- Independent investigators from the United Nations linked Nicolás, ministers Néstor Reverol and Vladimir Padrino López, among other people, to systematic human rights violations that equal crimes against humanity. They asked for criminal investigations to determine the scope of their involvement. The three-member International Mission appointed by the Human Rights Council, said that they “had substantial reasons to believe” that Nicolás, Reverol, Padrino López and the directors of security and intelligence services “ordered or contributed” to arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings on three groups in particular: protesters, members of the opposition or citizens perceived as such and alleged criminals. In addition, the Mission said that they didn’t stop the abuses, even when they had the power to do so. This report is focused on the events since 2014, when opposition to Nicolás’s regime strengthened and chavismo resorted to the most brutal tactics to remain in power. The UN exhorted the Executive to demand an accountability report on the events.
- “Far from being isolated acts, these crimes were coordinated and committed according to state policy, with the knowledge or direct support of superiors and high-ranking government officers,” said Marta Valiñas, president of the Mission. It’s worth mentioning that during the period of examination, Nicolás and his ministers knew about the crimes and “gave orders, coordinated activities and supplied resources for developing the plans and policies established on the report,” so they demand that their scope of participation in these crimes be “investigated and to determine their individual criminal responsibility, in an organization with national or international jurisdiction, carried out by the competent authorities.” This report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva next week, but it represents a historic document, with a devastating story of methods of human rights violations by chavismo, which they can’t deny now.
- The first official spokesperson to react was Freddy Bernal, wrongly called “protector of Táchira (state),” who called the report a “political attack” and offered his unconditional support to the aforementioned authorities, for their responsibility in extrajudicial executions.
- Hours later, Nicolás’s Foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, undermined the Mission’s work, and said that the regime only deals with the Office of the High Commissioner, that the small bandaids they’ve used during the last few weeks represent “important progress” and that they refused this independent investigation from early on, so they don’t care about their conclusions.
- Last night, PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello said on his TV show: “Somebody is paying and collecting money for these things. That’s what they want to turn into a political victory, they’re so short-sighted when it comes to politics.” He reiterated the regime works with Bachelet’s team, which he doesn’t defend because he’s been accused by it.
- Notable silence by the rest of the propaganda apparatus about the Mission. Barely some isolated “talents” tried to compare the pattern of repeated human rights violations to mistakes made by the opposition.
- The TSJ ruled measures against American citizen Heath Mattew John and seven Venezuelans, keeping them detained, for the alleged crimes of terrorism, treason, association to commit crimes and weapon trafficking. It’s devastating to see how they spent money in biosafety gear for judges, but they don’t buy them for sanitary personnel: the priorities are clear.
- Diosdado Cabello assured last night that the only way that elections would be postponed is if a “truly extraordinary event” (!) happened. “Here’s the Constitution. A truly extraordinary event would have to happen to stop the people from voting,” he said on VTV. The pandemic isn’t extraordinary to him, apparently.
- Nicolás’s Communications minister, Freddy Ñañez, said that there were 761 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 63,416 cases they’ve admitted to. He also reported nine new deaths, for a total of 511.
- Commissioner for the UN, deputy Miguel Pizarro, assured that the Mission is making very important allegations, like direct testimonies from officers of intelligence forces (SEBIN and DGCIM), linking them to detaining civilians and military officers, under orders by Nicolás or Diosdado Cabello: “All the violations and crimes in this report can be considered crimes against humanity,” he said. Pizarro emphasized that the report highlights that DGCIM “doesn’t only have the unofficial torture and detention center in Boleíta,” but other clandestine centers where they disappear detainees before they’re taken to hearings. “The recommendations on the report, aren’t more of the same thing. The fact that the concept of crimes against humanity is being used in a report is a fundamental change. It’s not like I said it, or like an NGO said it, it’s an independent UN institution,” explained Pizarro. He emphasized that this is the first time that an independent UN council exhorts its own members to support this kind of investigation and denounce these events.
- President Donald Trump, issued a memo for the State Department, where he identifies the main countries of transit and production of drugs in the world, among them Venezuela. Trump assured that “the leader, the accomplice in this hemisphere is Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.”
- Special Envoy Elliot Abrams said that there are no conditions in Venezuela for a free election in December and highlighted that Trump’s government didn’t send the alleged spy that was detained in the country. Abrams warned that there’s no press freedom, or reliable voting machines, and that the repression continues. He accused the CNE of being completely under Nicolás’s control.
- About the report presented by the UN International Mission, Abrams said that it’s an extraordinary report, that he hopes will impact the governments who are thinking about their policy towards Nicolás’s government.
- UN Secretary General António Guterres asked the regime to take the report seriously. When he was asked if the UN will accept the invitation to accompany the elections, he reminded everyone that the UN can only take on that responsibility if it’s mandated by the General Assembly or the Security Council.
- The OAS Secretary General expressed support for the UN and said that the evidence of collaborating in crimes is consistent with their report published in May 2018. He asked that the international community act “in a united, coordinated way to exert the corresponding pressure, to bring criminals to justice and free the Venezuelan people from the oppression.”
- The Mission’s report helps vindicate the victims and NGOs who have worked to document the atrocities this regime has committed. Human rights defenders are victims of attacks and threats for doing their job. We must see that there’s no retaliation. This report points to the people responsible for repression, how it’s systematic and there’s impunity, and those people are still free and they affect the lives of millions. There’s a long way to go before justice comes, but what happened on Wednesday is very important.
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