Venezuelan Civil Society Opposes Economic Sanctions, Calls for Rejection of Constituent Assembly

On August 7, a group of over 50 independent Venezuelan civil society organizations issued a statement to the countries in the Americas ahead of the recent regional summit on Venezuela’s crisis held in Lima, Peru.

The statement, signed by leading organizations like Provea, Acción Solidaria, Transparencia Venezuela, and the Foro Penal Venezolano, urges countries in the Americas to call on the Venezuelan government to suspend the National Constituent Assembly and accept humanitarian aid in the face of the current crisis.

It also specifically calls on the countries of the hemisphere to refrain from adopting unilateral or multilateral sanctions which could “elevate the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela,” a clear reference to recent proposals to sanction the country’s oil sector.

Complete statement:

Open Letter from Human Rights and Social Organizations to the Meeting of Foreign Ministers to be held in Peru on August 8, 2017

The Venezuelan social and human rights organizations that endorse this document wish to convey the following information to the delegations present at the meeting of Latin American foreign ministers, which will be held August 8, at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru:

  1. Since April 1, 2017, important sectors of the Venezuelan population have been carrying out peaceful demonstrations in cities, towns and rural communities across the country to protest against the interruption of constitutional order and the weakening of democratic institutions, demanding a schedule for pending elections, the opening of a humanitarian channel for access to food and medicines, the release of political prisoners and respect for the separation of powers. In this cycle of protests, the largest demonstration was held on July 16, when more than 7 million Venezuelans expressed their rejection of the irregular convocation of a National Constituent Assembly.
  2. The Maduro regime’s response to its citizen’s demands, made through the exercise of their right to peaceful demonstration, has been repressive and violent. According to figures from the Public Prosecutor’s Office from July 31 of this year, in Venezuela 121 people have been killed in the context of the protests, of which at least 99 have been directly killed in acts of repression. Additionally, systematic violations of human rights have occurred, such as entering households without a warrant and without complying with legal requirements; massive and arbitrary arrests; torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment against persons deprived of their liberty to make examples of them; the application of military justice against civilians; attacks on residential complexes; the use of armed civilians against the protests and the widespread violation of international standards in the use of force.
  3. In this context, a National Constituent Assembly has been irregularly initiated without prior consultation of the citizenry and without complying with the requirements established by Venezuela’s laws, in addition to violating the principles that characterize a democratic electoral process. According to complaints filed by our organizations, the harassment of public employees in an effort to force them to participate in the July 30 elections became a state policy. The electoral authorities announced a rate of voting turnout – greater than 8 million people – that does not correspond with evidence seen on election day. Because it was marked by fraud, the Constituent Assembly election has been denounced both by the Attorney General of Venezuela, the CNE’s principal rector Luis Emilio Rondón, and by former ministers of the administration of Hugo Chavez, thereby illustrating the deepening social and political crisis of Venezuela. Even Smartmatic, the company contracted by the Venezuelan government to install the computer and technology platform that was used in the election process has denounced the results of the illegal election for members of the National Constituent Assembly as falsified.
  4. Our organizations promote a peaceful, democratic and constitutional resolution of the country’s current political crisis. To this end, we consider the actions of the international community to be key in forcing the Venezuelan government to fulfill its democratic duties and human rights obligations derived from the pacts and agreements that have been signed by the Republic in a sovereign manner.

With regard to the above considerations, we respectfully ask the Foreign Ministries of the different countries present at this extraordinary meeting of ministers to push for the fulfillment of the following actions:

  1. Urge the Venezuelan government to suspend the activation of the National Constituent Assembly, to respect the current constitutional framework and the independence of government powers, especially the Legislative branch and the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
  2. Reinforce systems of human rights protection systems to allow them to influence the democratic resolution of the Venezuelan crisis, urging the government to accept the visit of both the rapporteur for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and for the United Nations.
  3. Urge the Venezuelan government to announce and follow an electoral calendar for the electoral processes established in the National Constitution, carried out according to democratic standards.
  4. Demand that the Venezuelan government respect the freedoms of assembly, expression and association, as well as that of peaceful demonstration and to stop its criminalization; demand the deactivation of groups of armed civilians and the end of the use of military justice against civilians; demand the immediate release of persons deprived of their liberty for political reasons, and the investigation and punishment of allegations of human rights violations.
  5. Demand that the Venezuelan government respect and immediately cease any act of persecution, intimidation or threat against human rights activists and members of NGOs that have been engaged in denouncing and recording the serious human rights violations that have taken place in our nation.
  6. Urge the Venezuelan government to accept international humanitarian aid that will improve, in the short term, citizens’ access to food and medicine, recognizing the seriousness of the situation for large sectors of the population, especially those living in vulnerable conditions.
  7. Continue to carry out the necessary steps so that different countries of the region can address—in accordance with human rights standards—the migration crisis generated by the breakdown of social and political rights in Venezuela.
  8. Prevent the adoption of unilateral or multilateral sanctions against the entire country by international governments, which will heighten the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
  9. Contribute to Venezuelan civil society organizations,’ as well as to State institutions that request it, efforts to clarify investigations that reveal connections between Venezuelan government officials and cases of corruption, the result of which has led to the grave humanitarian crisis that affects our nation, as well as ensuring access to public information.

Signed in Caracas on August 7, 2017, by:

Acceso a la Justicia
Acción Ciudadana Contra el Sida (ACCSI)
Acción Solidaria
Acción por la Libertad
AEPA FALCON, A.C, Coalicion ONGs DDHH Falcon
Asamblea de Educación
Asociación Civil  Camino Democrático
Asociación Civil Fuerza, Unión, Justicia, Solidaridad y Paz (FUNPAZ A.C)
Asociación Civil Mujeres en Línea
Asociación Venezolana de Mujeres
Cátedra de DDHH de la UCLA
Centro de Acción y Defensa Por Los Derechos Humanos (Cadef)
Centro para la Paz y los DDHH UCV
Centro de Justicia y Paz – CEPAZ
Civilis Derechos Humanos
Centro de Formación para la Democracia (CFD Venezuela)
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Metropolitana (CDH-UNIMET)
Coalición Clima 21
Cooperación Internacional e Integración para el Desarrollo y Esfuerzo Regional (CIIDER)
Comisión de Derechos Humanos del estado Zulia (CODHEZ)
Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Políticas-LUZ
Comisión para los Derechos Humanos y la Ciudadanía CODEHCIU
Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela del Estado Monagas
Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Federación Venezolana de Colegios de Abogados del Estado Apure
Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela del Estado Monagas
Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela del Estado Táchira
Comite Pro Defensa de DDHH víctimas y familiares del edo. Falcon COPRODEH
CONVITE
Espacio Humanitario
EXCUBITUS Derechos Humanos en Educación
Federación nacional de sociedades de padres y representantes -FENASOPADRES
FENASOPADRES Capítulo ARAGUA
Foro Penal Venezolano
Fundación Aguaclara
Fundación Nueva Mujer Margarita
Fundación Redes
Grupo de Trabajo sobre Asuntos Indígenas de la Universidad de Los Andes
Humano Derecho Radio Estación
Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas UCAB
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS-Venezuela)
Instituto Venezolano de Estudios Sociales y Políticos-INVESP
Nueva Esparta en Movimiento A.C
Laboratorio de Paz
Movimiento SOMOS
Movimiento Vinotinto
Observatorio de Derechos de Propiedad de Cedice Libertad
Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia
Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de los Andes
Padres Organizados de Venezuela
Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)
Promoción Educación y Defensa en DDHH (PROMEDEHUM)
Sinergia, Red Venezolana de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil
Sociedad Hominis Iura (SOHI)
StopVIH
Transparencia Venezuela
Una Ventana a la Libertad
Un Mundo Sin Mordaza
Unión Afirmativa
Vicaria DDHH Arquidiocesis de Coro