WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

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26 Jan 2022 | Joint Statement

The Government of Nicolás Maduro Continues to Violate the Venezuelan People’s Rights of Participation and Non-Discrimination

(Caracas, 1.25.22) We, a group of Venezuelan social and human rights organizations, reject the official decisions regarding the request to activate the constitutional right to hold a recall referendum of elected officials. This right is established in Article 72 of the Constitution, and its violation confirms the absence of democracy in the country and the inability for the population to exercise political rights without threat of reprisal.

On January 21, the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that, after accepting three requests, it had approved a timeline for a presidential Recall Referendum (RR). However, the timeframe established by the electoral authority makes it impossible to exercise this constitutional right, reaffirming the weakness of democratic institutions in the country.

With the dissenting vote of two of its five primary members, the CNE approved that the collection of the valid signatures and fingerprints of the 20 percent of the population, or approximately 4.2 million individuals, needed to advance in the referendum process, would occur over only a 12-hour period on January 26, 2022, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in only 1,200 centers across the country. As the Venezuelan Electoral Observatory (OEV) has calculated, fulfilling this minimum threshold of signatures would require each collection point to process five signatures per minute without rest for the entire 12-hour period, attending to each signatory in only 12 seconds, during which time they would have to take four fingerprints and sign a notebook. “This provided capacity would imply that some voters would have to travel to different municipalities within their same state to participate, in a country with serious limitations on mobility, which are aggravated during the pandemic. We have, as a result, a number of reception points that is absolutely insufficient during the approved time period, which is also insufficient,” explained the OEV.

Beyond the violation of the right to electoral participation through a referendum, established in the Constitution, there continues to be a state policy of discrimination on political grounds. In the afternoon of January 24, Vice President of Venezuela’s Socialist Party (PSUV) Diosdado Cabello declared that PSUV would request a list of the names of those who signed on to the referendum. This occurred after independent CNE rector Roberto Picón expressed the need to protect the identity of those who request the RR. As we recall, during the presidential recall referendum process in 2004—the only one that has taken place to date—the database of signatories was made public. This database, which came to be known as “Lista Tascón,” was utilized for the systematic exclusion of citizens from public services and policies, as well as the firing of hundreds of individuals from their jobs in the public sector. This political persecution was denounced by international human rights organizations, resulting in a sentence by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) against the Venezuelan state in 2018.

These decisions and declarations by different public officials present new evidence of the absence of democracy in the country, and the inexistence of institutional channels for the Venezuelan people to express their opinion through voting. These measures have been taken, even while Venezuela finds itself under the eye of different international human rights protection mechanisms, such as the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the International Criminal Court. Finally, these decisions add unnecessary conflict in the context of a pandemic and complex humanitarian emergency.

We call on the international community to persist in denouncing the authoritarian actions of the Venezuelan government, and to use all diplomatic mechanisms to achieve a peaceful and democratic solution to the political conflict, which continues to force thousands of Venezuelans to flee to other countries each day, generating one of the worst migratory crises of the region’s history.


1) A.C. Justicia y Paz OP Venezuela
2) A.C. Médicos Unidos de Venezuela
3) AC Conciencia Ciudadana
4) Acción Democrática
5) Agrupación Ciudadana MOVER
6) Ambar Asociación Civil
7) Asociación de Profesores de la UCV (Apucv)
8) Asociación de Profesores Unellez (Apunellez)
9) Aquí Cabemos Todos
10) Asociación Civil Ecológica y Social Chunikai
11) Asociación Civil Saber es Poder-AsoSaber
12) Asociación de Profesores de la Universidad del Zulia
13) Asociación de Profesores de la Universidad Simón Bolívar
14) Caleidoscopio Humano
15) Caracas Ciudad Plural
16) Cecavid
17) Centro de Formación para la Democracia CFD
18) Centro de Justicia y Paz – Cepaz
19) Civilis Derechos Humanos
20) Clima21 – Ambiente y Derechos Humanos
21) Comisión Nacional DDHH Federación Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela del estado Táchira
22) Comisión para los Derechos Humanos del Estado Zulia (Codhez)
23) Control Ciudadano para la Seguridad, la Defensa y la Fuerza Armada Nacional
24) Coordinadora de Lucha Vecinal Lara
25) EXCUBITUS Derechos Humanos en Educacion.
26) Expresión Libre
27) Frente Amplio de Mujeres
28) Fuerza Liberal
29) Funcamama
30) Fundacion Aguaclara
31) Fundación Incide
32) Fundación Iribarren Lucha
33) Fundación para el Debido Proceso Fundepro
34) Fundación para el Desarrollo Integral FUNDESI
35) Fundación Pro-Defensa del Derecho a la Educación y la Niñez (Funda-Pden)
36) Fundemul Venezuela
37) Gobiérnatec
38) Inclusión Venezuela
39) LABO Ciudadano
40) Laboratorio de Paz
41) Las Piloneras
42) Monitor Social A.C.
43) Movimiento Ciudadano Dale letra
44) Movimiento por la Democracia
45) Observatorio Global de Comunicación y Democracia OGCD
46) Observatorio Venezolano DDHH Mujeres
47) Observatorio Venezolano de la Salud
48) Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones
49) Organización Pensionados y Jubilados
50) Organización StopVIH
51) Organización Wainjirawa-UAIN
53) Provea
54) Sinergia, Red Venezolana de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil
55) Sociedad Hominis Iura (SOHI)
56) Solidaridad Activa
58) Unión Vecinal para la Participación Ciudadana AC
59) Universidad del Zulia
60) Vicaría de DDHH de la Arquidiocesis de Barquisimeto
61) WOLA
62) Zona de Descarga