By Luis Almagro
Organization of American States
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- This latest action taken without the minimum guarantees of any legal framework is completely harmful to the human rights of both leaders and their families.
In both cases, the detentions are carried out instilling fear and intimidation of their families.
The Venezuelan regime continues to escalate its use of repression.
On Sunday there were 16 indiscriminate murders of citizens who protested against a fraudulent election and the installation of an illegitimate national constituent assembly.
Today there was the selective targeting of opponents. The regime is trying to silence Ledezma and López and, through them, silence and subdue an entire people. It is no accident. They are opposition political leaders in a framework of the social, political and economic crisis of a Venezuela that is suffering to return to democracy.
There are no legal rationale for Ledezma and López to be in jail. This is the same lack of rationale used in the cases all political prisoners.
The justifications are arbitrary and unlawful, among other things because they ignore the health concerns- which have not changed- that led to the leaders’ release, because they imply that they were planning an escape, or because they broke a prohibition of making public declarations.
These are errors in the manipulation and use of the law that are made by the Regime. They are imprisoned because they are politicians who demonstrate leadership. They are imprisoned because they are hostages of the government.
I urge the international community, the countries of the OAS, the United Nations, the European Union and the Vatican, among others, to continue to adopt measures to defend democracy and human rights in Venezuela.
We admire the determination and courage of the Venezuelan people, the strength shown in the face of danger by the young people who protest, the women who march, the doctors who care for those injured by the repression, the religious figures who call for a stop to the repression, the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, who denounce these facts every day.
Our international solidarity can only be with those who claim their rights and not those who deny and repress them, those who are tortured and not their torturers, the victims and families of the victims and not their murderers.
For the corrupt, the murderers and the torturers, the international community must reply with the greatest severity.
In Venezuela today we are faced with a dictatorship that is afraid of its people and of international sanctions for their criminal actions. The way to overcome fear is not to harden repression, not to imprison political leaders, not to continue to violate the human rights of the people. If there is more repression and human rights violations, the actions and sanctions of the international community will have to be tougher. It is clear, repression does not stop the people, it strengthens their determination and makes their protest that much more necessary.
I reiterate that the only possible solution in Venezuela is an immediate call for full elections, including national and international electoral observation, the end of the repression, the release of all political prisoners, the restoration of the powers of the National Assembly, the opening of a humanitarian channel, and the cancellation of the fraudulent National Constituent Assembly. The mechanism for this is a negotiated exit between the regime and the opposition, one that includes Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo López. A negotiation in which includes the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, and uses the best mechanisms of the hemispheric community for monitoring political commitments. A peaceful path toward peace and a democratic path toward democracy in Venezuela.”