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Venezuela Rejects UN Call for Release of “Political Prisoners”

Los Angeles, March 14th 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuelan Ambassador before the United Nations (UN) in Geneva Jorge Valero denounced UN high official Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein who called for the release of the South American nation’s “political prisoners” last week. According to the Venezuelan Penal Forum (FPV) there are 97 in the country. The most emblematic cases include high ranking opposition leaders accused of promoting violence as a strategy for removing the elected national government. 

During his annual presentation to the UN Human Rights Council, Al-Hussein remarked on Venezuela’s current political atmosphere expressing his “concern about the extreme polarization in Venezuela with continued restrictions on freedom of movement, association, expression and peaceful protest."

Al-Hussein then called for the release of all “political prisoners” in Venezuela and suggested that Venezuela lacked fundamental rights for all citizens.

Valero opposed Al-Hussein’s comments, which he described as an echo of “the international media campaign against Venezuela, hatched by imperialist interests.”

In the last year, Venezuela has come under increasing international scrutiny for alleged unfulfilled commitments to human rights by a wide range of political and economic institutions including the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) among others.

“It is deplorable that those responsible for crimes are presented by you [Al-Hussein] as peaceful demonstrators and political opponents," said Valero addressing Al-Hussein during the UN Human Rights Council session.

In his presentation, Valero also emphasized that “human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected in Venezuela. Everyone can freely express their own viewpoints. Peaceful declaration is a constitutional right.”

Venezuela's alleged “political prisoners” include Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma and other opposition leaders currently imprisoned for their roles in promoting violence in an attempt to unconstitutionally unseat the national government. In particular, Lopez was sentenced to 13 years and nine months jail time in September 2015 for having encouraged violent anti-government protests known as the guarimbas the previous year, leading to the death of 43 people.

Last month, Lopez's wife Lilian Tintori spoke with US President Donald Trump and other Florida congressional representatives including Carlos Curbelo (R), Mario Diaz-Balart (R), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), to demand the release of her husband and other “political prisoners”. Since then, bipartisan US legislators have gone on to call for even harsher sanctions against the Venezuelan government and Bolivarian top ranking officials.

Additionally, the UN moved to sanction Venezuela late last month by temporarily removing the country's right to vote in the General Assembly until it pays off its $USD 24 million in debt to the international body.

Published on Mar 14th 2017 at 5.50pm