On November 26, formal negotiations resumed between representatives of the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition coalition of the Unitary Platform. As human rights organizations from across the hemisphere, we celebrate the formal resumption of this process with a commitment to address the humanitarian emergency after months of informal dialogue. At the same time, we urge the parties and the international community to prioritize agreements that guarantee compliance with human rights in this negotiation process.
We applaud the announcement of an agreement to address elements of the social crisis arising from the complex humanitarian emergency in Venezuela using $3 billion that had previously been frozen by U.S. financial sanctions, prioritizing in this initial phase the needs of health care, malnutrition, education and infrastructure in Venezuela, as well as the relaxation of some sectoral sanctions. However, it is crucial that transparency and accountability be guaranteed to ensure that its implementation addresses the needs of millions of Venezuelans in need of assistance. Given the existence of widespread corruption in Venezuela, we urge the parties, as well as governments in the international community, to ensure that there is no misuse of these funds.
Furthermore, we emphasize that no sustainable and substantive solution to the crisis is possible without the cessation of repression in Venezuela. The advancement of this process should lead to the end of all human rights violations, as well as the release of political prisoners. For there to be a comprehensive solution to the crisis in Venezuela, it is especially necessary to guarantee the right of victims to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition. It is incongruent with a moment of dialogue to promote policies that restrict civil rights and further closures of civic space.
Likewise, we remind the parties involved that they must commit to a thorough discussion of the other agenda items the Memorandum of Understanding signed in August 2021, taking into account the recommendations of Venezuelan human rights organizations and international mechanisms. These include the recommendations of the 2021 EU Election Observation Mission to improve future electoral processes, as well as the recommendations of the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela regarding judicial reforms and the importance of advancing impartial investigations into serious human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity.
We urge the parties to make a genuine commitment to maintain open channels of dialogue and negotiation to improve the living conditions of the population and the democratic strengthening of the country’s institutions. Given the previous experiences of rapprochement, there is a wide margin of doubt among the population about the real political will of the actors, especially that of the Venezuelan authorities. This announcement occurs at a time prior to an electoral process, and we therefore call upon the representatives of both sectors to ensure that the expectations generated are not channeled to achieve electoral gains, weaken the adversary or discourage the population from exercising their right to participate.
Finally, we emphasize that victims and human rights organizations should have the opportunity and the right to introduce their recommendations throughout the negotiation process if they so wish. We therefore urge the parties to guarantee the participation of Venezuelan civil society through the creation of an inclusive and substantive consultation mechanism that provides opportunities to influence the final text of any future agreement. Such a mechanism must be independent and ensure that interested civil society voices are safely included. A consultation mechanism should avoid superficiality by asking for input in sufficient time and allowing for complex and extensive input, including from victims who should be protected from retaliation.
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (CDH-UCAB)
Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ)
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH-Perú)
Fundación para el Debido Proceso (DPLF)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA)
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)