Venezuela announced Tuesday a four year plan to improve human rights, including institutional reform and better coordination with social movements.
Announced by Vice President Jorge Arreaza and Security Vice President Carmen Melendez, the 2015-2019 National Plan for Human Rights aims to consolidate Venezuela's progress in promoting human rights. “Human rights are indivisible,” Arreaza stated.
According to Arreaza, the new human rights plan will focus on promoting a “culture of human rights.” The plan will also involve strengthening existing human rights institutions.
Arreaza praised the plan as a continuation of the vision of 19th century South American liberation fighter Simon Bolivar, arguing the initiative will be a historic step towards a more just society. He added that the plan is an expression of the governments’ philosophy of human rights, which includes a commitment to ensuring all Venezuelans have access to basic necessities like housing, work, food and healthcare.
"Here are the human rights, cultural, educational ... the right to work, the right to land," he said.
Arreaza also extended an invitation to social movements and nongovernmental human rights groups to work with institutions to better promote human rights.
In terms of concrete proposals, the plan seeks to establish a national human rights institute, make human rights a key theme in the education of teachers, strengthen higher education programs in human rights, raise consciousness regarding mother earth as a subject of human rights, among other goals.
The plan also extends the mandate of the newly created National Council for Human Rights, which was formed in 2014.
According to a statement from the government, the new four year plan is the result of extensive consultation between state officials in Caracas and representatives of the Union of South American Nations regional bloc, who visited Caracas in 2014.
Among the key recommendations of the international representatives were a series of advisories aimed at promoting dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition groups.
Within this plans, Arreaza said, “Venezuela has accepted the valid recommendations."
Ahead of the plan’s official launch, President Nicolas Maduro said the project was also formed through discussion with the public and human rights advocates.
“It’s a plan that began several years ago … and a proposal submitted to public consultation (in a) socialist democracy,” he said.
The announcement of the four year plan comes as Venezuela passes the half-way point in its time as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The South American nation was elected to take a seat at the council in 2012, marking the first time Venezuela has sat on the council – something Caracas says is emblematic of the progress it has made in promoting human rights.
At the time, Venezuela's representative to the U.N., Jorge Valero, said Venezuela had made major strides in human rights since the 1990s.
“This is a demonstration of the strength of the (Bolivarian) revolution in the world, and the successful state policies to protect the human rights of all Venezuelans without exception,” Valero said at the time.
Before it is approved in its final form, the plan will be subject to extensive consultation, first by the general public via the web, then by Venezuelan human rights organizations of all political stripes, and finally by the President of the Republic.
Also present at the plan’s launch were the internationally-renowned human rights champions, Rigoberta Menchu and Piedad Cordoba, who praised the initiative.
“The fact that Venezuela publically presents its human rights plan and calls all sectors to the discussion table represents an example of democracy for the world to follow,” affirmed Menchu, a Guatemalan indigenous leader who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1992 for work in demanding justice for the victims the genocidal, US-backed military regime.
“You are an example of hope and democracy, I believe that this plan should be an example for the world, because it is mainly based on the concept of emancipatory human rights,” declared Cordova, former Colombian senator who has played a key role in the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP.
“Everyone who defends the process of socialist revolution in Latin America and the world is committed to the truth, that Venezuela does not violate human rights but rather defends them,” she continued.
With additional reporting by Venezuelanalysis