Venezuela: a country in exponential crisis and neglect

Press release
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(Caracas, Paris) - FIDH and its member body in Venezuela, Provea, today published a position paper that warns of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country due to the arrival of Covid-19, among several other reasons. The situation in Venezuela has been largely disregarded and made invisible, paradoxically due to the global pandemic itself. The support of the international community is now essential, as a mechanism for overcoming not only the humanitarian crisis but also the political crisis.

FIDH and PROVEA consider, together with Venezuelan civil society, that the grave humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is experiencing and the failure to guarantee the most essential rights to all Venezuelans merit more, not less, communication, transparency, and international cooperation to work toward their alleviation and prompt solution. For this reason, they call on the government to reconsider its decision to expel the European Union Ambassador from Venezuela.

The Covid-19 pandemic has arrived in Venezuela in a context characterised by two fundamental aspects: the existence of a Complex Humanitarian Emergency aggravated by the economic sanctions imposed by the United States resulting in the mass forced migration of vulnerable sectors of the population, and by a de facto government exercising power in an authoritarian manner, restricting freedoms and increasing social controls and repression.

The attached position paper (ES) draws attention to the seriousness of this crisis, its intensification due to the pandemic, the quarantine measures implemented, and how these measures have been used by the Maduro government to accentuate social and political control over the Venezuelan population.

The consequences of the economic crisis are devastating. Shortage of basic products, rising inflation, and loss of the purchasing power of wages and other socio-economic benefits of millions of workers. Currently, the minimum wage in Venezuela is less than 5 dollars, less than 20 cents a day, well below the poverty line. In February 2020, the World Food Program indicated that more than nine million Venezuelans cannot access food, even if it is available in the country, due to hyperinflation. 60% of the population have had to cut back on their food portions. One in three people has difficulty putting food on their table and consuming the minimum nutritional requirements. Four out of every ten homes experiences cuts in electricity and water services. Four out of ten households experience daily power outages and 72% have an irregular gas supply.

Added to this, stigmatisation, attacks, and criminalisation of human rights defenders, including journalists, have increased since the state of health emergency was declared on 13 March, with a pattern of persecution and harassment against people who are critical of the government.

The deinstitutionalisation of the Venezuelan State, corruption, indebtedness, and diminishing resources have resulted in a public services crisis which is unprecedented in the history of Venezuela.

As if this were not enough, lockdown measures in other countries have also affected work and Venezuelan migrants, so many of these people are returning in a highly vulnerable situation and are the those at greatest risk of COVID-19 infection, while families that relied on remittances to meet their living expenses are seeing this income decrease or disappear.

An economic and social crisis of such magnitude, it must be said clearly, has been able to last for so many years, due to the authoritarian and irresponsible nature of the government of Nicolás Maduro.

In this complex context, the document published today calls on the international community to take multiple actions, including: maintaining diplomatic efforts to promote a negotiated, peaceful, democratic and constitutional solution to the Venezuelan political crisis, and for the European Union to support and reactivate the efforts of the International Contact Group (ICG) to respond urgently to the setbacks that are occurring and that are making free and transparent elections impossible.

It also urges the de facto government to provide technical, truthful and transparent information for the management of the pandemic, which is the product of discussions with scientific actors and specialist health personnel, and to refrain from persecuting union leaders, journalists and human rights defenders who are independently documenting the situation in the country.

L’urgence humanitaire complexe du Vénézuela ne fait que s’accentuer sous l’effet du Covid-19 (ES)
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