Bachelet Report on Venezuela: Executions, Torture, and Disappearances

The report highlights the human rights violation in Venezuela, although the language depicting the Chavista regime is benign

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“I am concerned about the pattern of arbitrary detentions, violations of due process, as well as allegations of torture and forced disappearances in the early days of detention,” Michelle Bachelet (Archive).

Spanish – Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented a new report on the situation in Venezuela based on the events that took place between June 2019 and May 2020. The document denounces several of the atrocities perpetrated by the security forces of Nicolas Maduro’s tyranny: executions, torture, forced disappearances, persecution of dissidents, and arbitrary arrests.

The 17-page report presented on Thursday consists of complaints about possible human rights violations but also highlights the political, economic, and social situation in the country.

Executions by regime’s armed forces

One of the most serious accusations is the alleged execution of 38 young men by the regime’s forces. These murders were allegedly carried out between May 2019 and May 2020 in the states of Anzoátegui, Aragua, Bolívar, Guárico, Lara, Sucre, and Zulia.

Of the 38 murders, 23 are attributed to the Special Action Forces (Faes), seven to the Scientific, Criminal and Criminalistic Investigation Corps (CICPC), three to the armed collectives, two to the Bolivarian National Police, one to the Criminal Investigation Directorate, one to the National Anti-Extortion and Kidnapping Command (Conas), and one to the Bolivarian National Guard because it was a custodial death. “The pattern identified in these cases is similar to that described in the High Commissioner’s report to the Human Rights Council in July 2019,” the document clarifies.

The reports also states that “the victims of the killings documented by OHCHR were all young men, mostly under the age of 30, belonging to low-income families in disadvantaged neighborhoods marked by high crime rates. Some victims had a criminal record, while others did not and were allegedly targeted for personal revenge or due to mistaken identity.”

The armed collectives continue to unleash terror

One of the points addressed by the high commissioner is the attacks by the regime’s armed groups against “political opponents, demonstrators, and journalists.” The tyranny and its law and order forces were complicit in these attacks.

The report also highlights the unconstitutionality of the state of emergency imposed by the regime. This has exceeded the 60 days established by the constitution and was also not approved by the National Assembly, as stipulated in the constitution.

It is worth noting that the report did not touch on how persecution and repression have grown since the extreme quarantine implemented by the Chavista tyranny. Although points such as “the arbitrary arrest of three health professionals for denouncing the lack of basic equipment, or criticizing the Government’s response to the pandemic” are mentioned, the reality is that the report was very mild in this exceptional circumstance, which the tyranny has exploited to further subdue the population.

The report also noted irregularities in arrests, persecution of the media, and restrictions on freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate: “OHCHR documented restrictions to the right to liberty of demonstrators, and media and health workers, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also documented violations of due process in cases of persons charged for crimes such as treason, rebellion, public incitement, conspiracy, attempted assassination, terrorism, or funding of terrorism.”

Cases of torture, sexual assault, and arbitrary arrests of reporters

Former President Bachelet’s report said that 17 protesters across the country were arrested for demonstrating to demand better public services. The detainees included both minors and elderly adults. The most serious of these allegations were three cases of torture and one of sexual assault of demonstrators arrested on May 20 in the state of Lara by members of the Chavista security forces.

Citizens were threatened and arbitrarily arrested for exercising their right to protest. Moreover, reporters also faced threats. “Four media workers were victims of arbitrary arrests by security forces, and seven were granted precautionary measures by a judge while awaiting trial.”

The report especially pointed to the Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence, DGCIM, as one of the perpetrators of torture. According to the data provided by the OHCHR, “almost all individuals detained by DGCIM from the cases documented by OHCHR were subjected to enforced disappearances for short periods following their arrest, and before being presented to a judge.” The document noted that the authorities did not confirm the whereabouts of the persons to either family members or lawyers for periods ranging from seven to 40 days, which “raised concerns about increased risks of torture and ill-treatment.”

OHCHR notes that persons deprived of their liberty were interrogated by the tyranny’s intelligence services after their arrest “either at the DGCIM premises or at non-official and unknown locations.”  The victims were allegedly subjected to “ill-treatment and torture.” According to the accounts compiled by OHCHR, the main purpose of such acts is to intimidate and punish the persons arrested and to extract confessions or incriminate others through videos or written statements. “Reports of physical and psychological torture of military or ex- military personnel were common while high profile individuals, such as members of parliament, did not report physical abuse.”

Persecution of medical personnel and arrest of dissidents

Health professionals, who have complained about the shortage of medical supplies and the notorious shortcomings of hospitals, have been persecuted, and three have been arbitrarily detained “for denouncing the lack of basic equipment, providing information about COVID-19 or criticizing the Government’s response to the pandemic.”

We must remember that doctors are the most affected by the pandemic since they are risking their lives to fight diseases without any protection and with a minimum wage of no more than five dollars a month to meet their needs.

OHCHR also “110 cases of persons, including three women, under criminal prosecution, charged for crimes such as treason, rebellion, public incitement, conspiracy, attempted assassination (against the President), terrorism or funding of terrorism. Sixty-three were members of the military and 47 were civilians. Sixty cases had been submitted to civilian jurisdiction, 48 of which had appeared before specialized courts dealing with terrorism, and 50 (including 12 civilians) had been subjected to military jurisdiction.”

The good and the very bad of the report

Michelle Bachelet and her commission denounce and publicize the executions, forced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests by the security forces of the Maduro tyranny. However, it is laughable and even obscene to so repeatedly highlight “the willingness” of the Chavista regime to provide information and help with transparency. If at this stage, there is still a belief in the “good faith” of a tyranny that kills and tortures, then a lot of things are really being done wrong.

“OHCHR welcomes the increased cooperation with authorities to promote the respect, protection, and the fulfillment of human rights through its presence in the country. OHCHR also welcomes efforts by the Government to increase engagement with international human rights mechanisms, in particular the special procedures system, and through the establishment of a national mechanism for reporting and follow-up.” Fragments like this were repeated throughout the text. Welcoming the “increased cooperation” from Chavismo is like thanking a murderer for giving you a clue to his crime. We are inevitably led to wonder how much the regime has disguised its atrocities to pass them on to the United Nations.

There is an obvious effort to wash the regime’s face in its economic disaster, and several of the paragraphs are not objective either. Today, Venezuela is bankrupt, without food and medicine; the health system has been devastated, the oil apparatus destroyed. All this is the faut of Chavismo and its corruption, inefficiency, and the evil of leaving Venezuelans dependent on their socialist system. Not of the sanctions, as several of the report’s sections would have us believe.

The Government’s efforts to reactivate the economy, increase wages, and maintain the coverage of social programs has been insufficient to guarantee a minimum essential level of economic and social rights, particularly for the most vulnerable sectors of society… Sectoral economic sanctions and related over-compliance by the financial sector have exacerbated this situation, by inter alia significantly reducing the state revenues that could have been allocated for the realization of economic and social rights.” At what point is the responsibility for the economic debacle placed on the regime? The United Nations deliberately points the finger at the sanctions which, in reality, do not affect the Venezuelan citizen’s economy as has been proven. The document overlooks the errors of the tyranny and classifies the regime’s responsibility as “insufficient efforts.”

It would be irresponsible not to point out how the UN has long been subservient to the global left. The instances are numerous, and in the case of Venezuela, too, the UN has favored the narco regime. It still recognizes Maduro’s regime as a government and even made it a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council- a move that was widely criticized at the time.

It still recognizes Maduro’s regime as a government and even made it a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council- a move that was widely criticized at the time. Basic medicines today are a luxury, and essential services are deteriorating by the day. How can the UN still advocate for political solutions through insufficient mechanisms such as dialogue or false elections? And how is it possible that the language of the report clearly goes against sanctions and in favor of the perpetrator (regime, to the detriment of the victims (the Venezuelans)? It is situations such as these that makes the United Nations lose credibility.

An example of this is that after criticizing the intervention of the Chavista justice system in opposition parties and the appointment of a new National Electoral Council, the concern of the former Chilean president was reduced to the fact that these measures “diminish the possibility of building conditions for credible and democratic electoral processes.” In reality, since the very nature of Chavismo prevents this from taking place.

In the same report, they note that “OHCHR continued to document restrictions to freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and the right of participation in public affairs, which have continued to restrict the civic and democratic space in the run-up to the electoral process.” The UN must understand that in Venezuela, there can be neither dialogue nor elections with Chavismo, only a change of regime can transform the current situation.

If the United Nations truly wants to show determination in defending human rights, it must stop beating about the bush and point the finger at the Maduro regime as a tyranny perpetrating violations of fundamental rights. It has been twenty years of torture, disappearances, murders, persecution, and arbitrary arrests. How long is the Chavista monster going to be allowed to continue committing crimes?

Bachelet’s report has important points, of course, but it also includes obvious errors. Someone unfamiliar with the Venezuelan case can, unfortunately, get the wrong image of Chavismo as a political system.

“I am concerned about the pattern of arbitrary detentions, violations of due process, as well as allegations of torture and forced disappearances in the first days of detention,” said Michelle Bachelet. If that is true, she has to start proving it.

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