Media Center


Message from the Secretary General on Venezuela

  June 12, 2017

The civil war of the repressive forces of the state carried out against unarmed people is the reality of the Venezuelan people today.

Finding a path to peace is imperative. The solution to the crisis is to respect the sovereign voice of the people.

Every act of violence and repression, imprisonment and torture, shooting and every murder, are the tools of a regime that lacks authority, understood as the ability to exercise power and generate civil obedience from respect for the social pact.

The more than sixty people dead in Venezuela are the direct responsibility of its governors. Gandhi said it and conflict theory echoes it:the ends and means must always coincide and be subject to the same ethical principles: violence can only generate violence (Mohandas, 1973).

The moral authority of the Venezuelan people is their pacifism and the struggle for freedoms, despite the absurdity of the repression.

Since April 1, nearly one person per day has died because of the repression. ThePublic Prosecutor´s Office of Venezuela recognizes that 47 people have been murdered and, in 8 of these cases, different personnel of the Bolivarian National Police, the Bolivarian National Guard, the Police of the State of Carabobo, the Police of the State of Táchira, and the Municipal Police of Sucre have been charged by the Prosecutor´s Office for the crime of homicide.

The number of people wounded in the protests varies widely: from approximately 1,000, according to official data from the Prosecutor´s Office, to 15,000, according to the opposition. In the same period, 2,990 people have been arrested for demonstrations and 1,251 remain behind bars.

Every day that the crisis goes on there are more deaths and wounded. Venezuelans –men, women, children- die for a lack of medicine and for the extreme repression of the security forces and the paramilitary collectives controlled by the regime.

The Interior Minister, Néstor Reverol, and the head of the National Guard, Major General Benavides Torres, are directly responsible for the systematic repression of the state.

They are responsible for the very serious violations of human rights, including crimes against humanity as is a systematic state action to murder and torture.

The Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino Lópezz, has come to recognize the excesses that are committed by the security forces. He called on the Bolivarian National Guard to respect human rights, assume their responsibility and stop from continuing to commit atrocities in the streets. This recognition is not enough. Hours later, there were more deaths to mourn and the continuity of the repression and the persecution that, far from diminishing, have extended across the country.

President Maduro threatens the people with 10 years of prison, if they decide to demonstrate against an illegitimate Constituent National Assembly. His answer to the calls of the people continues to be the spilling of blood, death, fascism and repression. His excuse for the impunity continues to be denunciation of external forces and imaginary ghosts.

A regime that sustains itself through violating the Constitution, in silencing the opposition, censorship, by annulling the legislature in absolute fashion, in repression, aggression, and murder, is undoubtedly an illegitimate regime, whose power is based on dictatorial practices.

The call at the beginning of April for a Constituent Assembly alluding to an undefined “sectorial” character of the voting bases, stripping people of the most essential value of democracy – universal suffrage – means falling even deeper into the horror of dictatorship.

We reiterate our solid support for the presentation of the appeal for annulment of the Constituent Assembly presented by Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz. The regime accuses her of being a traitor because she did not indulge in their manipulations or endorse their abuses; for insisting on the basic principles of progressivity and non-regressiveness of human rights; for defending the basic right of the sovereign to express himself freely at the ballot box through universal and direct suffrage; and for defending the validity of the Constitution against a call that is made without the people and against the people. The recent decisions of the Supreme Court against the Attorney General show, once more than it operates illegitimately as the enforcement arm of the dictatorship.

Opposition and dissent are synonymous with treason in dictatorships, which have emptied of content the functioning of institutions, by exercising violence against the rule of law and the Constitution.

The OAS General Secretariat especially welcomes the expressions from the Vatican after the meeting between His Holiness, Pope Francis, and the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, which concluded that in Venezuela “there is no confrontation between right and left, but a struggle between a government that has become a dictatorship … and a people that cry out for freedom and desperately seeks bread, medicine, security, work, and fair elections.”

We share their concern over the situation, faced with the impossibility of trusting the word of the government. We support their efforts to achieve a peaceful solution and their express rejection of a Constituent Assembly, in the sense that this is not an answer to the urgent needs of the Venezuelan people.

We fully support the new call from the Holy See for the Venezuelan government to comply with the four conditions requested by Cardenal Pietro Parolin in his 2016 letter, to enter a truly effective dialogue that allows the overcoming of the serious crisis facing the country: the immediate freeing of political prisoners, the opening of a humanitarian channel that allows for the entry into the country of food and medicine, the presentation of an electoral calendar and respect for the autonomy and complete functioning of the National Assembly.

As a Venezuelan institution, the Episcopal Conference has maintained absolute moral authority facing the political, social and economic crisis in the country.

We are in a time in which mediation efforts are taking place, all of them of course welcome, because they demonstrate the commitment of the international community to the search for a solution to the crisis.

In this context, the institution that is in the best conditions to act is the Episcopal Conference, because it is Venezuelan, because it knows its people´s feelings, because it knows better than anyone the history of this process and because of its immense moral authority.

From the international community we have stripped the regime of its impunity, the alteration of the constitutional order has been recognized and denounced, the return of democracy to the country has been called for, sanctions have been applied to corrupt and criminal affiliates of the regime, the freeing of political prisoners has been requested and various mediation efforts have been offered – and will be offered.

The work of the OAS has been and is essential in this sense. But the solution to the crisis is Venezuelan. It is imperative that the people of Venezuela recover their sovereignty and definitively restore democracy, civility and social peace that never should have been lost. Every day it becomes clearer that the peaceful solution is the convening of early elections with free, universal and direct voting. Only dictators fear elections. Commitments must be built to resolve the real problems of the country. I reiterate, there is a peaceful road to peace and a democratic road to democracy.

Reference: S-010/17