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2024: WILL THE VIOLATION OF RIGHTS CONTINUE?

The challenges that Venezuela faces as 2024 approaches are truly complex. There are many areas in which the country shows extraordinarily low performance in terms of respect for citizens’ rights. On the one hand, the country remains immersed in a social and economic crisis of such magnitude that it has been the driving force that has fueled a migration that, at the end of this year, will exceed the figure of eight million people, that is, approximately the fourth part of the Venezuelan population has crossed the borders looking for work, food and security.

However, it is in another scenario, that of the political crisis, where seems to lie the key that would open the possibility for the country to begin to travel paths of re-institutionalization and respect for rights and democratic guarantees. In fact, the systematic violation of the political rights of Venezuelans has allowed the illegal maintenance in power of a leadership that has not hesitated to disrespect the legal framework of the country, from the national constitution to ordinary laws, in order to remain in control of the executive power. However, torture, murders of opponents, electoral fraud and the curtailment of the separation of powers leave traces, and these traces have consequences. Let’s look at some of them, whose outcome in 2024 will largely define the future of the country.

Even though in the organs of the United Nations, given its status as an intergovernmental entity, the treatment of matters in which a member government is strongly questioned progresses more slowly than expected, in that forum the regime led by Maduro has several open fronts. On the one hand, the International Criminal Court has decided to continue the investigation presented by Prosecutor Karin Khan in response to the numerous accusations of human rights violations that constitute crimes against humanity. Thus, despite the appeals presented by the Maduro government, the Court continues its consideration of the serious cases presented and supported before the judges. The trial continues its course, and everything indicates that, sooner rather than later, it will have a result that will bring justice to those responsible for crimes against humanity.

Likewise, the work of the Independent International Mission to Determine the Facts about the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, created in 2019 by the Human Rights Council, continues. To get an idea of ​​the Mission’s findings, let´s just read a paragraph:

“The mechanisms of repression investigated by the mission took place in the context of an ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis. According to non-governmental sources, by March 2022, 82.8% of hospital care services were inoperative, which implies that some 19.1 million people stopped benefiting from these services. The annual inflation rate in April 2023 stood at 400%, the highest national rate in the world. By August 2023, at least 7.71 million people had left the country…”

And while the ICC continues its work and the Fact Finding Mission advances in its labor of identifying the realities of one of the greatest crises in the world today, in the UN Human Rights Committee, one of its members, Dr. José Manuel Santos País, listened to the speech of the Attorney General of Venezuela, Tarek Saab, who made an ardent defense of the government. Dr. Santos País, who has forty years of experience as a prosecutor, took the floor to point out “…I have never seen, on this Committee, a prosecutor defend the government of his country in such a way, when an attorney general must, normally, present a situation of complete independence from the government…this has been, for me, the biggest surprise of the interventions of this session…”

But the fundamental challenge of 2024 lies in holding the presidential elections that must occur in the second half of the year. Here, the cocktail of irregularities to overcome is extensive: illegally disqualified leaders, illegalized parties, openly pro-government electoral authorities, blatant use of public resources both in government campaigns and on the date of the election… and much more. At the close of this analysis, it was learned that members of the team of the candidate María Corina Machado had their passports annulled without any explanation.

As if that were not enough, the electoral body has repeatedly violated the right to vote of Venezuelans abroad. With eight million Venezuelans outside the country. Will he do it again in 2024? There are no visible signs, just one year before the election, of retraining on the part of the National Electoral Council. Faced with this situation, today more than ever the international community must be present, raising its voice in defense of the rights of Venezuelans.