Caracas, April 10th 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Venezuelan Committee for the Victims of the Barricades have branded a decision to deny them entry into a Summit of the America’s Forum as a “premeditated” attempt to silence them.
The victims of last year’s barricades, which were headed by Venezuelan opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, had travelled out to Panama earlier this week to participate in the Civil Society and and Social Actors Forum, as well as in the “People’s Summit” - an accompanying event to the Organisation of American States (OAS) 7th “Summit of the Americas”.
“This is no coincidence, they want to silence our voices so that we can’t tell the stories of our family members who are now dead, thanks to who they are calling political heroes like Leopoldo Lopez,” said Yendry Velasquez, whose soldier husband was killed in the violence.
The exclusion of the committee, which was formed last year in a bid to highlight the stories of the 43 people who were killed and the hundreds who were injured in last year’s violence, is just one of many recent attempts to silence the group. They say that they have been discriminated against by the largely privately owned Venezuelan media and its international counterparts, which have prevented them from telling their stories.
“They want to shut us up, they don’t want us to tell the truth,” said Desirée Cabrera, whose infant daughter almost died in an arson attack during the barricades.
As part of its awareness raising work, the committee has submitted official documentation of their experiences to bodies such as the Spanish and U.S. embassies in Venezuela, as well as to a U.N. mission in Caracas. To date, they have received little in the way of a response.
On Wednesday both Cuba and Venezuela withdrew their official delegations to the summit forum in protest at a number of the other participants who they described as “mercenaries” with financial links to the U.S. government and known Cuban terrorists.
Several Cuban delegates who had been accepted on to the forum also reported to press that they had been denied the official credentials in order to be able to participate in the event.
“Your Husband is Alive, Mine is Dead”
In a widely circulated video, Lilian Tintori, wife of currently detained opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, came head to head with widowed Velaquez at the summit, where the two women had a tense recorded exchange.
Tintori had flown to Panama to participate in the summit and to speak on alleged “human rights abuses” in Venezuela, as well as on her husband’s trial. She states that he is a victim of “political persecution”. Velasquez holds Lopez responsible for her husband’s death, who died of gunshot wounds inflicted by the barricaders.
“Your tears are the same as mine… I have been to the United Nations, I have been to the UN,” stated Lilian Tintori after coming face to face with the victim’s wife.
“No, no, it’s not the same. Your husband is alive, mine isn’t. Mine isn’t!” a visibly distraught Velasquez can be heard to reply.
“They listen to you. They don’t to me. There is no equality… When you go to see him, I have to go to the cemetery to lay down flowers at a tomb, that’s not equal,” she cried.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, met with the committee earlier today in what she described as an act of solidarity. The committee continues to demand justice for their family members and a prison sentence for Leopoldo Lopez.