Colombia, 1st May 2019 – On April 30th, the interim President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, called on the Venezuelan population to join “Operation Freedom”, a massive demonstration to usher in what he himself describes as the “beginning of the end of the usurpation” of the Nicolás Maduro regime. Along with Guaidó, who issued the call in the early hours of the morning from the military base La Carlota in Caracas, was also the opposition figure Leopoldo López, who until yesterday was a political prisoner, and was freed from house arrest by defecting soldiers. The Maduro regime has described these actions as an attempted coup d’état.
In spite of this, the Venezuelan people took to the streets to demand the military forces to join them on the call for justice and freedom. However, the Police and National Guard, who are still allied to the Maduro regime, suppressed demonstrators of several cities by running over them, by using tear gas and rubber bullets, leaving dozens of people injured.
The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) strongly condemns the violence and repression carried out by Venezuelan authorities against the people who demand justice, democracy and freedom through their legitimate right to protest. We urge the Venezuelan State to put an end to the violence, to guarantee peace and the right to life, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the personal integrity of the demonstrators who today call for democracy through the constitutional path.
We urgently call on the international community to continue speaking in the face of the serious human rights crisis that Venezuela is going through, which has left more than three million people displaced to different countries in the region, as reported by UNHCR Americas, as well as serious attacks to the fundamental rights of the people who continue to demand their freedom.