Venezuelan Ombudswoman Accuses “NGOs” of “False” Reports
By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Correo del Orinoco | March 22, 2014
Venezuelan ombudswoman Gabriela Ramírez has accused international organizations of misrepresenting human rights conditions in Venezuela.
“A few NGOs have forged reports against our institution with false information,” Ramirez tweeted on Monday.
Since last month Venezuela has come under renewed criticism from international human rights monitors.
On 21 February, the United States based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Venezuelan security forces of using excessive force, while claiming it couldn’t find evidence of “anti-government protesters carrying firearms or using lethal force against security forces or third parties”.
Since February at least 29 people have been killed amid anti-government demonstrations and opposition violence. Among the dead are security forces and civilians who have been killed by firearms during clashes with the opposition.
The day before the HRW report was released, the brother of a socialist party (PSUV) deputy, Arturo Alexis Martinez was shot dead by a sniper. He was trying to clear an opposition barricade in Lara state when he was killed. On 24 February, motorbike taxi worker Antonio Jose Valbuena was shot by a masked individual in Maracaibo while clearing another opposition barricade. The alleged assailant reportedly demanded Valbuena desist from the attempt to clear the barricade. Since then assailants have shot at least two more civilians trying to clear opposition barricades.
Three national guard soldiers have also been shot dead during clashes with the opposition, including Giovanni Pantoja in Carabobo on 28 February, Acner Isaac Lopez Leon on 6 March in Caracas, Ramzor Bracho in Carabobo on 12 March and Jose Guillen Araque on 17 March.
According to Ramirez, misrepresentations of Venezuela by non-government organizations (NGOs) comes amid an anti-government social media campaign of misinformation.
Since February, photographs have circulated on social media websites including Twitter and Facebook of alleged cases of human rights violations by Venezuelan security forces. However, many of the photographs appear to be taken in countries as diverse as Syria, Chile and Egypt, but with inaccurate captions indicating they were taken in Venezuela.
HRW’s own report is accompanied by a photograph of what is claimed to be “a tank in San Cristobal”. The “tank”, was a statue that had been moved into the middle of the road and vandalized by opposition protesters.
Ramirez accused NGOs of being backed by the US State Department, which has also attacked Venezuela. In a report last month, the department leveled accusations against the Maduro government similar to those issued by HRW, while Secretary of State John Kerry has threatened possible “sanctions”.
Kerry’s comments have since been condemned by the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), along with the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“The Miami lobby is taking measures to sanction Venezuela, but I tell you, you’ll be going down a road without return,” Maduro stated in response to Kerry.