GENEVA - The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is deploring the violent, escalating attacks against political opponents of the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Michelle Bachelet presented an oral update of the situation in Venezuela to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Tuesday.
Bachelet said the human rights situation in Venezuela has worsened since she last reported on conditions in that country in December. She said opponents of the Maduro government are in a particularly difficult and dangerous situation.
As political tensions increase, Bachelet said, so does violence against opposition members of parliament and other dissidents by security forces and government supporters. She said several parliament members have been arrested.
“My office has also documented acts of aggression against members of the political opposition, protesters and journalists. And, the security forces did not act to prevent such acts of aggression.… We have also registered cases of seizures targeting political parties and NGOs. These acts of aggression are usually accompanied by a rhetoric that stigmatizes, exposes and discredits the victims, and justifies violence,” the U.N. human rights chief said.
Bachelet, a former president of Chile, said she is also concerned about pending legislation to sanction human rights organizations that receive funding from abroad. Other causes for alarm, she said, are growing restrictions on the freedom of trade unions, whose leaders often face arbitrary detention. She added her office receives allegations that some people under arrest have been subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.
At the same time, Bachelet criticized economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela’s airline, Conviasa, as well as the country’s oil industry. She said they deprive the government of money to spend on social programs, which most hurts the impoverished general population.
Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Jorge Valero Briceno, criticized the high commissioner’s presentation as lacking balance. But he noted the necessity of maintaining a dialogue with her office and said his country welcomes its technical assistance.
But Briceno reserved the full blast of his ire for what he calls the war-mongering administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. He said the U.S. president’s threats to blockade and even militarily invade his country undermine the security, economy and human rights of the Venezuelan people.