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The Maduro government’s “cooperation” narrative is false, but it has allies

On April 27, 2022, 19 organizations addressed the President of Argentina requesting his intervention to achieve the release of Javier Tarazona, a human rights defender detained since July 2, 2021

On April 27, 2022, 19 NGOs, including AlertaVenezuela, released a letter addressed to the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, responding to his previous statements in which he stated that the situation in Venezuela “had improved” because “many of its problems had been dissipated”, focusing his diagnosis on the fact that the Maduro government had presumably resumed the electoral path. This controversial position was supported by the Argentine government spokeswoman, Gabriela Cerruti, who suggested that in Venezuela “there is democracy.”

The letter was an opportunity to ask for the release of defender Javier Tarazona, still detained by the intelligence forces, in poor health and subjected to torture. The communication to Fernández puts into context the unpunished abuses committed by the government, all of which have been verified by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on whom Fernández himself had based her perspective to maintain exactly the opposite.

AlertaVenezuela has previously denounced that the OHCHR’s ambiguous and silent position on the Venezuelan crisis is being used by different relevant actors to echo a fictional country in which there would be presumed cooperation on human rights. Actors, including presidents, diplomatic personnel and “analysts”, are seeing a “glass half full” that hides the problems by calling them “opportunities” and claims without empirical evidence that the country would be better off than before.

The Maduro regime has launched a narrative of “cooperation” relying on the OHCHR as a sounding board. Unfortunately, today the OHCHR has not put a stop to the manipulations of the government when it knows that such “cooperation” is false. It has never existed because none of the more than 60 recommendations of the OHCHR have been implemented in any of the four largest issues denounced by itself, such as democratic deinstitutionalization (lack of independence of powers), humanitarian crisis (total abandonment of the population), closure of civic space (persecution of real or perceived dissidence) and breach of international commitments (opposition to the work of monitoring and international protection of all the mechanisms of the OAS and the UN).

What is trying to impose itself is an illusion of cooperation built by OHCHR speeches that celebrate announcements without implementing (for example, the extermination policy of the FAES, still continues to operate) legal changes that leave the concentration of power intact (see our analysis below). the reforms of the justice system), and isolated measures of individual relief, such as the release of a political prisoner, when hundreds more are detained who have no mourners outside (see reports from civil society in general). The ambiguous and silent policy of the OHCHR is proving very costly to the extent that it seeks to relativize the human rights, political and humanitarian crisis.

The government deploys a broad strategy of “normalization” to clean up its image that has found allies with different interests in the Venezuelan crisis. That is what the letter addressed to Alberto Fernández fundamentally denounces, but it is also a tacit demand for Venezuelan civil society to redouble its efforts to dismantle the “cooperation” discourse. Here our starting point is sincere: we, civil society, are the counter-narrative; the government, the narrative that is gaining strength.

From that premise, advocacy actions must be reinvigorated, clearly highlighting the particularity of our crisis. We are not South Sudan, Yemen, Nicaragua, or any other country, mainly because, in addition to our systematic human rights violations that prompted the opening of the ICC investigation, we are facing a more cunning government.