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LatinNews Daily - 05 July 2019

VENEZUELA: Bachelet presents devastating critique of rights abuses

On 4 July, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, submitted a report on the state of human rights in Venezuela following her recent visit to the country.

Analysis:

The report laid bare the abuse of authority and systematic violation of human rights by the de facto government led by Nicolás Maduro. The internationally recognised interim president and opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, heralded the report as an accurate reflection of the suffering endured by the Venezuelan people. The Maduro government rejected the report’s findings.

  • While the report did not confine itself exclusively to human rights abuses perpetrated by the authorities (looking at some of the causes, for instance, of Venezuela’s social and economic crisis), it is this section that will attract the most attention.
  • The report calls for the disbandment of the the police special action force (Faes), created in 2017 ostensibly to combat organised crime, and the pro-government militias known as 'colectivos'.
  • It reported 5,287 deaths in the course of Faes operations in 2018, which, according to the Maduro government, were the result of “resisting authority”. In a statement accompanying the report, Bachelet said the Faes was guilty of “excessive use of force…multiple killings, mainly of young men”. She added that “many may constitute extrajudicial killings and should be fully investigated”.
  • The deputy foreign affairs minister, William Castillo, responded by saying that “Venezuela categorically rejects the criminalisation of its security forces”. He dismissed the report as biased and full of “serious methodological errors”, demanding “corrections of its content”.
  • For his part, Guaidó said “the persecution, torture, and murder of this bloody dictatorship has all been clearly captured” by the report.

Looking Ahead: Guaidó has called for a protest today (5 July) outside the headquarters of military counterintelligence (DGCIM) after the recent death of a detained naval corvette captain, Rafael Acosta Arévalo. Acosta, accused of plotting to topple the Maduro government, died the day after being dragged before a military tribunal showing clear signs of torture.