Venezuela Weekly: Will Bachelet Visit Venezuela?

On September 26, the United Nations Human Rights Council published a declaration that expresses concern for the “grave violations of human rights” in Venezuela and urges the government to cooperate with the office of the high commissioner for human rights. It also asks the latter to submit an exhaustive report on the situation. The new high commissioner, former Chilean president Michele Bachelet subsequently revealed that she had already spoken with Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza about such a trip, explaining that it would be an opportunity for the government to present its side of the story.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro said that Bachelet was welcome to Venezuela anytime and should coordinate a visit through the Foreign Ministry. This was reiterated by president of the Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello. This opening provides a significant window of opportunity, given that the Maduro government did not allow the previous high commissioner to visit Venezuela. In fact, the last time a UN human rights expert was allowed to visit the country in official capacity was 1996.

International Pressure

  • Colombian President Ivan Duque announced that Venezuela would no longer be included among the guarantors of talks between the Colombian government and the ELN. Venezuela played an important role in negotiations between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC. But Duque says that a country that has supported the ELN in its territory (i.e. Venezuela) cannot be a guarantor.
  • One of three docks in Venezuela’s Jose port, which exports 70% of Venezuela’s oil, will remain closed for another month. The dock has been closed since a tanker ran into it over a month ago. Reuters reports that PDVSA has had difficulty securing the materials and parts needed, due to US financial sanctions. Last month we published a piece by Francisco Rodriguez suggesting that US financial sanctions were a significant cause of Venezuela’s decline in oil production.

More on military intervention

  • General Remigio Ceballos in charge of the Venezuelan military’s exercises near the Colombian border suggested this was just the first phase of continued operations. He said the exercises were aimed to suggest “to any coalition of countries that might want to intervene in Venezuela, that Venezuela is not isolated. [The exercises] are combined with our allies because China is participating, Russia is participating, and Cuba is participating.” This is important as explained here, because the possibility of US military intervention in Venezuela has been framed in terms of defense of Colombia.
  • This gave new impulse to exiled Venezuelan politicians’ push for military intervention. Diego Aria published a Twitter video suggesting that the two previous US interventions in Venezuela in 1895 and 1902 were very positive. He argued that the current circumstances “are a great opportunity for the American president…to imitate this defense of [Venezuelan] interests, as it has done in two past opportunities, in benefit of Venezuelans.” Former mayor of Greater Caracas Antonio Ledezma visited Puerto Rico and signed a joint declaration with Governor Ricardo Rosselló saying the island would be the coordination seat of the “Commission for the Reconstruction of Venezuela,” and soliciting US intervention in Venezuela. This follows a joint trip by Ledezma, Aria and activist Tamára Suju to Cánada to urge humanitarian intervention, as well as Ledezma’s frequent visits to the OAS to argue for the same on the basis of the “Responsibility to Protect.”
  • Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post suggested that some in the region are discussing multilateral military action. However, it is not clear who other than Colombia might be on board since most US allies continue to state their opposition to the idea. Chilean president Sebastián Piñera agreed to cooperate with the US in addressing the Venezuela crisis, but reiterated his rejection of military action. “You can know how a military intervention starts, but not how it ends: the number of deaths, the pain and suffering that it will cause.” The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister rejected threats against Venezuela. And after a meeting, the Spanish and Peruvian foreign ministers made clear their rejection of “any non-pacific action.”

Migration

  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said 1.9 million people have left Venezuela since 2015 and 5,000 do so daily. In total, there are approximately 2.6 million abroad. He suggested that because of the scale of the migration “a non-political, humanitarian perspective is crucial, to help the countries who are receiving these growing numbers.”
  • Colombia’s executive branch is apparently developing a bill to be sent to the Congress that if made law would regulate migration to Venezuela.
  • A survey revealed that 55% of residents of Lima, Peru consider Venezuelan migration to be negative, in large part because they think Venezuelan migrants take jobs away from Peruvians.
  • The US said it was working with other Latin American nations to halt the spread of diseases from Venezuela.

Human Rights

  • The ProAcceso Coalition sent a letter to Venezuelan ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz demanding that he address violations of the freedom of expression. They said that journalistic coverage of Venezuela’s crisis is criminalized, the work of foreign correspondents is impeded, and journalists are frequently prevented from leaving the country.
  • In honor of “International Access to Information Day (September 28) a group of Venezuelan periodistas promoted the hashtag: #TenemosDerechoARespuestas.

The goal of Venezuela Weekly is to provide a news digest that is brief yet highlights concrete information. As such most of our links will be to local and regional Spanish-language press. English-language links will be highlighted in bold.

Did I miss something important or get something wrong? Let me know at [email protected]