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The Venezuelan government continues to aggravate the political crisis

Credit: FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images

The “institutional normalization” in Venezuela keeps as fiction. The rupture of the democratic and constitutional thread continues. On June 15, the crisis took a new form through the arbitrary removal of two rectors of the National Electoral Council (CNE) by the illegitimate 2020 national assembly, which took place after the joint resignation of the three rectors linked to the ruling party, who did not provide reasons for the fact.

The resignation and subsequent arbitrary removal of CNE rectors came days after the Venezuelan opposition expressed its intention to request technical assistance from the CNE for its primary process. In the opinion of electoral experts, this maneuver makes it more difficult for the CNE to technically support the primaries and leaves room for the composition of an electoral body directors board that better responds to the interests of the government, unlike the previous board, which included two rectors related to the opposition who were crucial for allowing the presence of the electoral observation of the European Union. Now the veneer of institutionality that the CNE had been building was broken by the government, which also controls the legislative and judicial branches.

In a country where there is no rule of law, it is impossible for there to be a supposed normalization nor improvements of any kind if the structural problems of lack of independence of public powers and systematic disrespect for the exercise of political dissidence are not reversed. None of the measures that the Maduro government has taken have been to democratize political or economic power, quite the contrary, they consistently tend to further concentrate decision-making in the national government, strengthening its ability to apply severe sanctions for those who decide to deviate from the party line.

For instance, two workers and members of the board of the Siderúrgica del Orinoco (SIDOR), Leonardo Azocar and Daniel Romero, were arrested on June 11 by members of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), charged with the crimes of conspiracy , association to commit crimes and incitement to hatred, and were deprived of their liberty by a court in Bolívar state after leading four days of strike within the company’s facilities. Defense attorney Eduardo Torres denounced the violation of their rights to freedom of association, personal liberty, due process, and access to justice, among others, which continue to swell the list of cases for crimes against humanity for reasons of persecution and imprisonment against real or perceived dissidents in Venezuela. It was also reported that the home of Yuxcil Martínez, a Sidor worker, was raided by officials of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) on the evening of Wednesday, June 14. To date, there is ongoing persecution against Sidor workers for demanding their labor rights.

Since June 7, the workers of basic companies and trade unionists have protested. On that occasion, the union decided to paralyze the Pellas Plant in protest against the low wages, the non-existence of Hospitalization, Surgery and Maternity (HCM) service and the non-payment of social benefits. In addition, the Intersectoral Workers of Guayana (ITG) issued a statement on the arbitrary detention of Azócar, Romero and Juan Cabrera, recalling that these violations occurred while the 111th International Labor Conference of the ILO was taking place, an entity with which the government tries to catch up. Yet the government propagates its false narratives in international forums while continuing to repress its population behind closed doors at little or no political cost.

Days later, the general prosecutor imposed by the national constituent assembly ordered the arrest of farmers who were forced to get rid of part of their crops because they did not have gasoline to transport their products. Two producers were detained in the states of Mérida and Trujillo. Although they were released days later, the message is already being transmitted to those who dare to dispose of their crops, although the government does not sanction its own officials responsible for the fuel shortage.

AlertaVenezuela calls on the international community to redouble its efforts regarding the human rights, humanitarian and democratic situation in Venezuela, especially in the context of the upcoming presidential elections, stressing the need to strengthen international monitoring and advocacy mechanisms in order to push for the changes that the country requires. No negotiation process or political dialogue will have results if the government is not required to prevent and investigate crimes against humanity and other abuses committed.