Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights stands with the people of Venezuela who are exercising their fundamental right to peaceful protest. We urge Nicolás Maduro and his officials to respect the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression. We are alarmed by the reports of violent repression, including with live ammunition, against civilians. We support efforts to find a peaceful solution to the long-standing crisis in Venezuela that upholds democratic values, respect for civic space, and fundamental rights.
Today’s protests, known as #23Ene, were called for by Juan Guaidó, recently elected as the head of the National Assembly. Guaidó has declared that Maduro’s second term is illegitimate -- a position supported by a majority of member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) and has been recognized by several states as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela. The protests are also a reaction to the economic and social crisis marked by inflation and extreme shortages of basic goods.
The last major protest in Venezuela, in April 2017, was met with widespread violence, brutality, and lethal force by Venezuelan security forces. Under Maduro, arbitrary detentions, political prisoners, and torture have increased. The authorities already arrested 27 members of the National Guard for alleged participation in uprising yesterday in Caracas and are violently repressing today’s massive demonstrations. Foro Penal has verified the arrests of 59 protesters so far.