Leading Human Rights Organizations Support a Democratic, Non-Violent Solution to Venezuela’s Crisis

(Version en Español)

On January 23, Venezuelans took to the streets in massive numbers, rejecting Nicolas Maduro’s claim to a new presidential term based on an illegitimate electoral process, and supporting an end to the country’s ongoing political and economic crisis. As organizations dedicated to the advance of human rights in the Americas, the signing groups condemn acts of violence reported to have been carried out against Venezuelans peacefully exercising their fundamental democratic liberties. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, there is evidence that at least 20 individuals have been killed in clashes related to the unrest. The right to demonstrate is fundamental and must be guaranteed, as well as the safety and freedom of the demonstrators. We call for the functions of the democratically elected National Assembly to be respected and that its members be protected against any aggression.

In solidarity with the Venezuelan people, we call for multilateral diplomatic actions that will advance a peaceful return to democratic order. It is fundamental that the international community ensure that any sanctions that may be imposed against the Maduro regime are coordinated, linked to concrete and clearly-communicated objectives and that they avoid worsening the country’s dire humanitarian emergency. In this context, we are deeply concerned by indications of renewed interest in an embargo on Venezuelan oil or other forms of broad economic sanctions, which would undoubtedly impact everyday Venezuelans and further restrict the ability to pay for imports of already scarce food and medicines.

We reject any threat of military intervention to resolve Venezuela’s crisis. Such an intervention would lead to massive destruction and loss of life, worsen the humanitarian situation, and exacerbate the regional refugee and migration crisis. The only solution to Venezuela’s crisis lies in a credible negotiated process that leads to free and fair elections that allow Venezuelans to choose their own leaders. The conditions for such a solution cannot be achieved through international pressure alone; they must be created through careful diplomatic engagement. In this spirit, we applaud recent efforts by the European Union, the governments of Mexico and Uruguay, as well as past statements by the Lima Group, all of which have expressed an interest in advancing a negotiated solution. Pairing pressure with creative diplomacy is the best way to facilitate a return to democracy

Conectas Human Rights, Brazil

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, Peru

Dejusticia, Colombia

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), United States