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New crackdown on trade unionists, human rights defenders, humanitarian workers and left-wing political activists

In the first days of July, multiple arbitrary arrests have been carried out by the Nicolás Maduro regime against trade union leaders, human rights defenders and their families, such as Alcides Bracho, Alonso Meléndez, Emilio Negrín, Gabriel Blanco, Reynaldo Cortes, Nestor Astudillo and Yeny Perez. These arbitrary arrests constitute another attack on freedom of association and CSOs that adds to the systematic violations of human rights committed in Venezuela.

Alcides Bracho is a university professor of chemistry, artist, and union activist in the university sector, who is linked to events that do not correspond to his conduct. Gabriel Blanco is a trade union activist from the city of Caracas, who currently works as a humanitarian worker and human rights defender.

Alonso Meléndez, Reynaldo Cortez and Néstor Astudillo are militants of the Bandera Roja political party, but on repeated occasions they have exercised union activism in the states of Guárico and Falcón. Yeny Pérez was detained by the security forces when they were unable to arrest her husband José Castro (a member of the Bandera Roja party and an activist in the trade union movement). Apprehension of family members is a recurring practice by the security forces to coerce the surrender of wanted individuals. Yeny Perez was released on Saturday, July 9, at noon.

This is also the case of citizen Jesús Manuel Berbesí, a militant of the Bandera Roja party in the state of Táchira, who was persecuted on Saturday, July 9 in the morning hours, as part of the repressive pattern against that political party. Not finding his whereabouts, the officials went to the homes of several of his relatives.

Emilio Negrín (lawyer, human rights defender, trade unionist and President of the Federation of Workers of the Judiciary), is the second member of the Alliance for the Defense of Labor Rights in Venezuela to be arbitrarily detained by defend rights, the first being Javier Tarazona, who has been unjustly detained since July 2, 2021.

On July 9 at night, the Fourth Court of Control with jurisdiction over Terrorism declared admissible the custodial measure requested by the Public Ministry against the humanitarian worker Gabriel Blanco, the activist Néstor Astudillo, Emilio Negrín, Alonso Meléndez and Reynaldo Cortes, accused of alleged crimes of association to commit a crime and conspiracy.

In Venezuela, innumerable cases of violations of labor rights have been documented, such as unjustified dismissals, arbitrary arrests, undue salary withholdings, prohibition of entry to work entities, either for exercising union activity, for political reasons or demanding compliance with labor guarantees, which translates into a government policy applied to neutralize worker dissidence.

It should also be noted that the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela established by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019, has documented and verified the abusive use of preventive detention and the jurisdiction antiterrorism as tools of persecution against political dissidence.

With information from the Alliance for Labor Human Rights in Venezuela, Bandera Roja Party, Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy