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Venezuela: Open letter from the OAS Secretary General regarding Pre-Electoral Climate

  November 28, 2015

Today, one week before the December 6 elections, I reiterate my call for peace and an end to the violence in Venezuela. The insults and impunity, whatever their source, cannot be an answer to the national and international clamor for equal rights and electoral justice.

It does not make one 'garbage,' Mister President Nicolas Maduro, to condemn the killing of a politician and call for an end to the ongoing violence in the country, or to say that "the violent death of any person is a heinous act that we cannot accept. The killing of a political activist, moreover, leaves us all more vulnerable, and signals that we are all real victims, not just potential victims." 'Garbage' would be to say anything else.

In addition, it is not 'garbage' to say that "the killing of a political leader is a deadly wound to democracy and a succession of violent acts in an electoral process can be a mortal blow to nearly any kind of democracy."

Similarly, it is not 'garbage' to refer to "other attacks against other opposition political leaders in a strategy to intimidate the opposition," and to note that "the entire society is affected by fear and it has shaken the entire international community."

Insecurity and Fear Cannot Dominate the Campaign

And if the fear and insecurity of the opposition is not enough, Mister President of all Venezuelans, you should listen to them so they can tell you directly.

I only ask that every activist and every student - from any political affiliation - be able to express themselves peacefully, and be sure that they can return to their homes in peace; that any politician, from the best to the worst, be protected, be safe from any attack whatever the motive. To be 'garbage' would be to ask for anything else.

It is not 'garbage' to ask that "the government act now," to call for "an end to all violence;" to ask that "the electoral process be transformed into a celebration and not an exercise of force, violence and fear;" and to call for "the most absolute guarantees for everyone." It would be 'garbage' not to demand these rights.

Disarmament of civilian groups, a civic imperative

It is not 'garbage' to urge the immediate reestablishment of a climate of peace and respect for the law, nor to urge an end to "speeches filled with threats and dark forecasts and for the disarmament of any armed civilian group, in particular those that depend on the government or the party of the government." And my request refers specifically to these, because I suppose and I hope that you have influence and power in these cases, Mister President. In any case it would be good for the country to put aside the politics of weapons and crime.

It is not 'garbage' to say that "there should not be one more death, one more threat," and that it is "time to put an end to the fear," and that "every death in Venezuela today hurts everyone in the Americas."

It would be 'garbage' to allow violent death, threats, and the logic of fear; it would be 'garbage' if the deaths in Venezuela did not cause us pain. Every death should hurt us, whether the name is Eleazar Hernández or Pablo Sussoni, Génesis Arguisone or past cases such as those of Robert Serra and his partner or Eliezer Otaiza, or more recently, Luis Manuel Diaz, who died during a campaign event.

Principles Must Not Divide Us

Regarding the case of Luis Manuel Diaz it is urgent - due to the nature of the political crime - to carry out an investigation of the killing and that the investigation result in irrefutable conclusions, just as it is necessary to investigate and resolve the pending cases of the 43 people killed in past demonstrations and other still unresolved cases. This would bring security.

I hope these principles, Mister President, do not divide us and put myself on one side and yourself on the other. And I do not make this response today to keep myself safe from insults, but because I prefer to hear arguments.

I care about the happiness and the peace of your country. And I want the Venezuelan people to achieve their happiness during your mandate, because the happiness of the people, "does not allow for the slightest delay," nor do its causes, in the initial meaning of the words of General José Gervasio Artigas.

Luis Almagro,
Secretary General of the OAS

Reference: E-345/15