Repression intensifies in Venezuela, warns the UN
The government of Venezuela intensified "attacks on civic and democratic space" to "silence opposition or criticism" of Nicolás Maduro's Executive, a UN mission indicated in a report released this Wednesday.
The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela investigated allegations of human rights violations reported in the country between January 2020 and August 2023, and concluded that it has "reasonable grounds to believe that "They committed at least 5 arbitrary deprivations of life, 14 short-term forced disappearances and 58 arbitrary detentions" in that period.
In addition, experts recorded 28 cases of torture or other cruel treatment against detainees, including 19 cases of sexual violence.
An "especially alarming" panorama, since Venezuela will hold presidential elections in 2024, for which former opposition representative María Corina Machado and also opposition leaders Henrique Capriles and Freddy Superlano were disqualified.
The mission was created by the UN Human Rights Council in 2019 to investigate alleged human rights violations against opponents of which the Maduro government is accused.
In its new report, the group highlights that since the beginning of 2021 it received "fewer accusations of serious human rights violations against people opposed to the government or perceived as such."
But these types of incidents "continue to be committed […]recently […] more selectively against certain people from civil society, such as union leaders, journalists and human rights defenders," said Marta Valiñas, president of the mission.
"The repressive structure of the State has not been dismantled," the group emphasizes.
The report accuses the state of resorting to "threats, constant surveillance and harassment, defamation and censorship" to "suffocate the opposition."
– “Hard and soft” mechanisms –
"Together, these two types of mechanisms, 'hard' and 'soft', make up a repressive apparatus of the State used with different levels of intensity, depending on the nature and strength of social dissidence," said Francisco Cox, an expert at The mission.
Patricia Tappatá Valdez, another expert, denounced the "deliberate action of judicial and constitutional institutions" that "restrict the movements of social leaders and political leaders."
According to experts, there is continuity between the Special Actions Forces of the National Police (FAES), dissolved in 2021, and the Directorate of Strategic and Tactical Actions (DAET), created in July 2022.
"The transformation of the FAES into the DAET is a mere name change that shows the persistent impunity and continuity of serious violations of human rights," said Valiñas.
In a previous report, the mission documented the participation of the FAES "in arbitrary detentions" of people critical of the government.
Nicolás Maduro was re-elected in 2018 in elections boycotted by the opposition and not recognized by many countries, such as the United States.
In 2019, Washington and part of the international community recognized Juan Guaidó, leader of the opposition who proclaimed himself interim president.
The Venezuelan opposition put an end to this interim presidency in January, believing that it had not met its objectives for political change.
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