Caracas, September 13th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Committee of Victims of the Guarimba and Ongoing Coup in Venezuela made public Monday an official letter addressed to the President of the Organization of American States’ Permanent Council, Elliston Rahming, and the body’s other members in which they denounce Secretary General Luis Almagro’s “stigmatization campaign” against their organization. Over the past several months, Venezuelan social movements and political leaders have criticized Almagro’s behavior and active campaign to justify intervention in the South American nation.
“We believe that it is inadmissible and disrespectful that the Secretary General attempts to communicate with our organization, addressing himself before Venezuela’s OAS Permanent Mission, trying to show that there is a direct link between this government agency and the Committee of Victims” states the letter, which was originally sent on September 9th.
The Committee is composed of direct victims of guarimba opposition protest violence as well as family members and other loved ones of those killed by the violence. A total of 43 were killed in 2014, resulting in 57 in total since 2013 and hundreds more injured.
“For us, it was hard enough having to bury our relatives or having to live with a disability as result of this violence, so we are not willing to tolerate the Secretary General as he tries to offend or disparage our struggle for truth and justice,” the Committee emphasized.
The Committee also argues that due to Almagro’s continued behavior, “we have not had, nor do we wish to have, any meeting with OAS Secretary General, who has taken a biased attitude in favor of the perpetrators of this deadly violence.”
Furthermore, the Committee criticizes Almagro’s attempts to delegitimize their work by presenting allegations that the committee is directly controlled by the Bolivarian government.
“In such communications, the Secretary General attempts to show that our organization is controlled by the Venezuelan Government, discrediting the Committee’s independent work which seeks out the truth and justice of those who were affected by [guarimba] violence,” reads the statement.
Moreover, the Committee expressed that since sharing their testimonies they have received “attacks, insults, harassment and hate speech by national and international leaders.” As such, Almagro’s manipulation of their circumstances to justify attacks against Venezuela and its government, “does not surprise us” the Committee continued.
The Committee has made formal complaints before the United Nations as a direct result of international persecution as well.
The Committee also highlights Almagro’s active advocacy for the release of opposition leaders Leopoldo López, Daniel Ceballos, and others who have been imprisoned due to their roles in organizing and instigating the guarimba violence. The Committee directly relates Almagro’s advocacy as a means “to promote impunity for victims and families of victims who make up our committee.”
The Committee finalized its statement with a request for the Permanent Council’s direct action to stop what they presented as attacks against its organization “since such conduct contradicts the position of this organization in favor of defenders and human rights defenders of our continent.”
In late August, the Committee also issued a press release in response to opposition leader Jose Pérez Venta who admitted that the guarimbas were part of a nationally and internationally supported plan to destabilize Venezuela.
“We express our deepest outrage regarding the revelations of Jose Perez Venta, who revealed that the violent acts that occurred in our country during 2014 were deliberately planned and financed by a variety of domestic and international players,” they expressed.