Media Center

Press Release

Statement from the OAS Secretary General

  April 9, 2017

Luis Almagro calls on the Government of Venezuela to respect the voice of the people and settle differences through elections

I can’t help but admire the courage of the people in the street. When no one has resolved this political and humanitarian crisis, neither through mediation, nor through rigged dialogues, the people have decided to make their voices heard throughout the hemisphere, as is mandated in the Bolivarian Constitution in its Article 350.

Just hours ago we called for an end to the authoritarian repression in Venezuela.
Just hours ago we condemned the banning of Governor Henrique Capriles, recalling that only the people through the ballot boxes can disqualify their leaders.
Just hours ago we called on the military to assume its role in defense of institutions in a democratic spirit and not give in to authoritarianism and repression.

This Saturday, thousands and thousands of Venezuelans went out to demonstrate against authoritarianism in Venezuela and repression was once again present, the building of Henrique Capriles was burned, and the soldiers of the regime had to obey the dictatorial and repressive orders to confront their Venezuelan brothers in the streets once again.

The people are simply the most marvelous force in the universe, neither the curtailment of their rights, nor the failure to hold recall and regional elections, nor torture, nor the murders by cowardly snipers, nor fire nor hatred, can stop them.

Using repression, intimidation and terror as a tool of the enforcement of power is the clearest symptom of the weakness of the regime.

The Venezuelan people no longer fear these abuses because they know that they can do more than repression, that peacefully uniting to claim their constitutional rights is justice. That is the true and legitimate power, the people’s voice and ability to decide its own future.

The images were seen around the world throughout the day showing the confrontation between Venezuelans.
We have received information about the use of tear gas that can generate burns, just a few hours ago there were victims, one dead, others injured and arrested, and the people were not afraid.

We say to the regime that the street is not the place where the Venezuelans must face off, it is in elections.

Weapons do not legitimize a government, elections do.
Powers corrupted by the absence of the rule of law should not disqualify political leaders, elections should.

Several governments of the hemisphere have already expressed their concern about the repressive acts and the disqualification of Governor Henrique Capriles.

I share their statements; I condemn the authoritarian escalation by the Venezuelan government and call on the government and the armed forces not to pit Venezuelans against Venezuelans in the streets, but in free elections.

When the people are on one side and weapons are on the other, there is no democracy, there is no revolution, there is no justice, it is simply the repression of a dictatorship that does not accept the will of the people.

Here there is no invasion, there is no bombing, there is only a people determined to protest in the street against a tyranny that denies its fundamental freedoms, that denies it the elections and the legitimate government the people deserve.

The proscriptions and the attack on party buildings are testimony to the political cowardice of a dictatorship that fears above all things the voice of the people.

The only sovereign of a nation is the people, to violate their rights and to deny their expression is to condemn the country to the ignominy of submission to a dictator. One cannot expect that to be accepted.

Nor can it be expected that the people accept a Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), which is the right arm of the dictatorship, right when the people are trying to free themselves of that dictatorship.

The TSJ is behind the decisions that led to the recent resolution of the OAS Permanent Council.

The Venezuelan people know that their voice is stronger and is heard throughout the world, even in spite of the regime's attempts to silence it by force.

I call on the Government of Venezuela to release political prisoners and to reinstate leaders as an immediate and inescapable step toward free elections.

There is no better way than elections to settle the differences.

Legitimate democratic authority has been lost, and the government has decided to opt for authoritarianism and repression to maintain a power that does not belong to it, which belongs to the Venezuelan people.
The authority must return to the Venezuelan people.
And elections must determine the delegation of their authority.
The magnitude of the cowardice of a regime is shown by the extent of the violence used to silence a people.
The magnitude of the courage of a people is shown by the extent of its voice today in the streets to recover democracy.

Reference: E-030/17