Human rights conditions in Venezuela continued to worsen under the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro, according to the 2019 State Department Human Rights Report.
During the last two years, Maduro has moved decisively to consolidate his power. His term ended on January 10, 2019, but Maduro tried to stay in power by claiming victory in the 2018 presidential election, which was widely condemned as neither free nor fair. On January 23, 2019, Juan Guaido, as president of the National Assembly, assumed the role of interim president as provided for under the constitution. But Maduro, with the backing of hundreds of Cuban security force members, refused to cede control to Guaido.
Maduro’s power grab has resulted in significant human rights abuses committed “every day against Venezuelans,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They include “extra extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detentions.”
For more than 800 days, the former Maduro regime has held six CITGO employees - five of whom are U.S. citizens and one of whom is a U.S. legal permanent resident - without due process. Eighteen hearings have been cancelled, suggesting that these six men are actually political prisoners.
Maduro’s regime has been particularly harsh in its treatment of Guaido supporters. A case in point is that of opposition leader Elwin Mendoza. In February 2019, he was brought before a military tribunal simply because he called for desperately needed humanitarian aid deliveries to Venezuela. “Maduro’s thugs,” said Secretary Pompeo, “locked up [Mendoza]. Neither his family nor a doctor could visit. And one month later he had died at the age of 34.”
Others caught in Maduro’s crackdown include Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero. He was arrested in March 2019 in his home and charged falsely with conspiracy, treason, and weapons smuggling.If convicted on these trumped up charges, Marrero faces up to 30 years in prison.
The 2019 Human Rights Report honors those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for fighting for human freedom and dignity. “It’s a service to those punished for their beliefs and to those who continue the fight,” said Secretary Pompeo:
“We pray for a day when Cubans, Venezuelans, Chinese and Iranians, and all peoples can speak and assemble freely without fear of their own governments.”
The human rights report, he added, “is a sign of America’s continued belief in the peoples of the world to respect and uphold fundamental rights for every one of their citizens.”