OP-ED: Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter Statement on the Situation in Venezuela

 Editor's note: HNN contributor Sir Ronald Sanders sent this on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 20, 2014

The Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter repudiate the events that occurred during and after the peaceful demonstrations by student organizations on February 12, 2014 in Venezuela.  The group of Friends laments the loss of life and the wounded, and expresses its strong condemnation of the detention of more than 100 students, some of whom reported violations of their physical integrity.

The raid of a political party office without a warrant, and the arrest of Leopoldo Lopez, coordinator of the Voluntad Popular party, raise special concern. This situation constitutes the criminalization of the political activities of opposition groups, which is unacceptable in a democratic society.

 Equally concerning are the obstacles to the media to report on these events, including the threat of penalties that leads to self-censorship,  the removal of an international television station from the air, and the lack of paper supplies for print news.

 As a result of these serious events, the Friends of the Democratic Charter:


1. Condemn the repression of peaceful demonstrations and the arbitrary detention of Venezuelan students;

2.  Condemn the arbitrary arrest of political leaders;

3. Demand the immediate release of all those who remain detained, under the terms of which the right to personal liberty is guaranteed by the Venezuelan Constitution, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international obligations of the Venezuelan state.  This is without prejudice to the legal processing of those accused of violence or vandalism, guaranteeing due process of law;

4. Demand a thorough, transparent, and independent inquiry into the violence, as well as the allegations of abuse of detained students;

5. Call upon the government of Venezuela to respect and guarantee the necessary conditions for the exercise of political activities by political and social opposition, as guaranteed by the Inter-American Democratic Charter;

6. Remind all Venezuelan that the exercise of their constitutional right to protest must be peaceful, tolerant and respectful of the pluralism of a democratic society.

We urge Venezuelan political leaders to urgently seek mechanisms and solutions to prevent a downward spiral of conflict in the country.

February 20, 2014


Diego Abente Brun

Former Minister of Justice and Labor of Paraguay

Cecilia Blondet

Former Minister for the Advancement of Women and Human Development of Peru

Joe Clark

Former Prime Minister of Canada

John Graham

Chair Emeritus, Canadian Foundation for the Americas

Osvaldo Hurtado

Former President of Ecuador

Torquato Jardim

Former Justice of the Superior Electoral Tribunal of Brazil

John Manley

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada

Barbara McDougall

Former Minister of External Affairs of Canada

Andrés Pastrana

Former President of Colombia

Sonia Picado

Chair of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights

Sergio Ramirez

Former Vice-President of Nicaragua

Sir Ronald Sanders

Member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group 2010-2011

Eduardo Stein

Former Vice President of Guatemala

Alejandro Toledo.

Former President of Peru

Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla

Former Director

National Office of Electoral Processes, Peru

Joaquín Villalobos

Founder of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN),

Signatory of the Peace Agreements of  El Salvador in 1992




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