Chavismo threatens NGOs in Venezuela with a law to regulate their operation | International

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The Action Against Hunger team assists Venezuelan migrants.Gonzalo Hohr

For years, NGOs have been in the eye of Chavismo. Diosdado Cabello, deputy and government leader, has threatened once again with legislation aimed at regulating the financing, operation and use of these organizations. “Through NGOs they conspire against the country. They are not non-governmental organizations. They do not depend on the Venezuelan State, but on the gringo State, they are instruments of imperialism," Cabello warned Wednesday night on his program With the mallet giving, broadcast on state television, after announcing that next week he would introduce the bill in plenary.

Although this legislation has been a constant threat, concrete steps have been taken during the Maduro government to restrict freedom of association and the work of NGOs. In 2021, a new mandatory registry was created in an anti-terrorism office, which was interpreted by civil society as a filter to limit its operation. This new step that is coming with the legislation puts Venezuela on a par with Nicaragua, where more than 3,000 legal entities have been suppressed in the last year, including those of universities critical of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

The presence of NGOs has increased in Venezuela with the worsening of the crisis, with serious problems of hunger that affect some 6.5 million people, the highest figure in South America, and a destroyed health system. Since 2019, the United Nations humanitarian agencies have been deployed to assist the population hand in hand with the NGOs that are on the ground.

Beyond the legal instruments that have become a permanent threat, the harassment against human rights defenders has increased during the Maduro government, to the point of putting them in the eye of the International Criminal Court, which was reactivated last December. the investigation into the human rights violations that occurred in the country. The work of hundreds of NGOs in the documentation has been key to making these files and the devastating reports of the United Nations Independent Fact-Finding Mission, which will continue its investigations for the next two years.

The Center for Defenders and Justice registered in the first half of 2022 more than 240 attacks against activists who watch over democratic freedoms in Venezuela. The main people responsible for these intimidating acts, according to this NGO, are "State officials", in addition to the communication platforms associated with the Government and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. “Those who work to defend and demand human rights should not be classified as enemies. On the contrary, they are essential actors in the recovery of democratic institutions and in the advancement of processes of justice, truth, and reparation for the victims of human rights violations," the organization denounced last year.

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