WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

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10 Oct 2020 | Joint Statement

Organizations Reiterate Concern Over Apparent Decision To Block Diesel Imports In Venezuela

Venezuela currently faces a deep economic and humanitarian crisis which is rooted in the dismantling of the rule of law, the destruction of legal and institutional order, and years of corruption and mismanagement by the government of Nicolás Maduro. With this in mind, the signing organizations are concerned by the likelihood that the lifting of extensions on U.S. sanctions that allow the importation of diesel to Venezuela could aggravate the impact of the humanitarian crisis on the Venezuelan population.

On September 1, a group of 115 organizations and individuals in Venezuelan and U.S. civil society published an open letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin to express concern over the possible consequences of this measure. One month later, we have not received an official response, and all indications suggest that the Trump administration is moving forward with the implementation of new restrictions on the exchange of fuel in Venezuela. Facing this situation, the 28 signing organizations once again express our profound concern over the devastating consequences this measure would have on the Venezuelan people, while having no effect on overcoming the political conflict currently affecting the country.

In Venezuela, diesel imports are the primary source of fuel for the generation of electricity and for the transportation of basic goods including food, medicine, and humanitarian aid. Limiting access to these already scarce goods and services would have profound consequences for the poorest sectors of society that are already in an extremely vulnerable situation, as well as for the humanitarian organizations that provide them assistance. To cut access to diesel would devastate an already crumbling supply chain in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and the additional restrictions associated with the pandemic. Based on these premises, we reaffirm our concern over the negative effects that this measure would have, such as: 

  • Almost all private clinics and some public hospitals in the country use backup electric generators, which depend on diesel. With less diesel, these health centers would have their activities paralyzed in the midst of the current health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2018, 85% of diesel consumption was concentrated in freight transportation, with 15% concentrated in transportation of people. More than 70% of the population depends on public transport to move around, including in order to obtain food and receive medical attention. Without diesel, people with less resources will be the most affected.
  • Freight vehicles depend on diesel for the transportation of cargo from ports and airports to cities, and similarly for the transportation of live animals, pigs, poultry, and livestock to industrial slaughterhouses. A lack of diesel would freeze freight transport, affecting the transportation of indispensable goods for the survival of millions of Venezuelan families. 

The evidence shows that the general sanctions imposed by the United States have aggravated the economic situation in the country, while not appearing to have had any definitive impact on the governing elite. On the contrary, these broad sanctions have decimated the citizens’ ability to respond to abuses of power by deepening the humanitarian situation of the Venezuelan population, while the elites within the regime appear more entrenched in power than ever before.

Based on this evidence, and foreseeing the likely negative consequences of these new restrictions on access to diesel fuel, the signing organizations once again call on the U.S. government to extend its commitment to a peaceful, negotiated, and democratic transition in Venezuela, and to maintain the current extensions on the importation of diesel. It is imperative that the U.S. reaffirm its commitment to these goals, while avoiding any measures that deepen human suffering on the ground.

Signing organizations:

  1. Acción Solidaria, Venezuela
  2. Movimiento Ciudadano Dale Letra, Venezuela
  3. Fundación Aguaclara, Venezuela
  4. Fe y Alegría, Venezuela
  5. Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ), Venezuela
  6. La Fundacion de Lucha Contra el Cancer de Mama (FUNCAMAMA), Venezuela
  7. Clima21 – Ambiente y Derechos Humanos, Venezuela
  8. Promocion Educacion Defensa en Derechos Humanos (PROMEDEHUM), Venezuela
  9. Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA), Venezuela
  10. Observatorio Global de Comunicación y Democracia, Venezuela
  11. AlertaVenezuela, Venezuela
  12. Meals4Hope – Alimentando Esperanza, Venezuela
  13. EXCUBITUS Derechos Humanos en Educación, Venezuela
  14. Acceso a la Justicia, Venezuela
  15. Prepara Familia, Venezuela
  16. Civilis Derechos Humanos, Venezuela
  17. Codevida – Coalición de Organizaciones por los derechos a la salud y la vida, Venezuela
  18. Una Ventana a la Libertad, Venezuela
  19. Espacio Público, Venezuela
  20. Reunificados ORG, Venezuela
  21. Fundación Tierra Viva, Venezuela
  22. Labo Ciudadano, Venezuela
  23. CODEH Moyobamba San Martin, Peru
  24. Asociación Centro Loyola Ayacucho, Peru
  25. Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos de Perú (CNDDHH), Peru
  26. Servicio Educativo para el Desarrollo y la Solidaridad (SEDYS), Trujillo, Peru
  27. Asociacion Nacional de Familiares de Secuestrados, Detenidos y Desaparecidos del Perú (ANFASEP), Ayacucho, Peru
  28. Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), United States