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OAS Secretary General Expresses Concern for Venezuelan Students on Hunger Strike

  February 10, 2011

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, expressed concern about the prolonged hunger strike by a group of Venezuelan students outside the Caracas OAS office.

During a meeting Wednesday morning with representatives of the students, the Secretary General received a list of persons currently deprived of freedom, among them the three detained parliamentarians, and indicated that he would request from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela background information on each case, and, upon hearing back, would refer them to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, so their situation may be reviewed should the autonomous OAS body consider it appropriate.

The Secretary General also will request immediate medical care to be brought to those detainees in need of it.

Regarding the possibility of visiting Venezuela in the near future, Insulza said that, according to the OAS regulations, the issue has once again been brought to the attention of that country’s authorities. Secretary General Insulza recalled that in December 2009, when a group of young people staged a hunger strike, the Venezuelan Government authorized the presence of a delegation to hold a dialogue with them; as then, he again expressed his willingness to contribute to generate spaces for dialogue and understanding that would again lead to an end to the situation.

“I am, as always, willing to visit Venezuela whenever possible, and that’s what I have said on numerous occasions,” the head of the OAS said. “But the Secretary General and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights can only conduct country visits when they have received the Government’s consent,” he recalled.

In this context, the OAS Secretary General once again called on the young people to abandon their hunger strike and employ other peaceful means of expressing dissent, without putting their integrity at risk. Furthermore, he called on the students to establish lines of dialogue with the national authorities recently elected to their country’s National Assembly.

Regarding the case of Judge María Lourdes Afiuni, brought forth by the students, Secretary General Insulza welcomed the judicial decision that granted her an injunction for house arrest, thus materializing the resolution of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in defense of her physical integrity, and asserted that her situation as well as the fulfillment of precautionary measures granted by the Court and Commission would be closely followed.

On another front, the Secretary General considered important to respond to legal initiatives proposed within the National Assembly that seek solutions to the situation of those who today claim to be unjustly detained.

“The doors of the OAS will always be open for dialogue with you, as with any group of citizens of the Americas that wishes to express its concerns and demands,” Insulza said. “But that can only happen with full respect for the sovereignty of countries and the powers of their governments. The decisions to accept and assume the issues proposed correspond to the national authorities, within the framework of the Rule of Law and respect for Human rights,” the OAS Secretary General concluded.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-530/11