Venezuela opposition wins Sakharov human rights prize


Credit: IRI

Bonds issued by Venezuela and state oil firm PDVSA dropped sharply on Thursday amid concerns cash-flow problems and regulatory hurdles may leave PDVSA unable to make more than $2 billion in payments coming due over the next week, Reuters reports:

Banks have become wary of Venezuela transactions following several rounds of U.S. sanctions against Maduro’s government for alleged human rights abuses and undermining democracy.

The European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Europe’s most prestigious human rights award, to the democratic opposition in Venezuela on Thursday, The New York Times reports:

The announcement, made by Antonio Tajani, the Parliament’s president, before a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, was repeatedly interrupted by applause. “Today we are supporting a nation’s freedom to struggle,” Mr. Tajani said. “We hereby express our full support for the National Assembly of Venezuela, the only democratically elected Parliament.”

The prize – named after former Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov (right) – also praised the role of political prisoners in Venezuela and those protesting for freedom, the BBC adds:

The European Parliament said in a statement that it wanted to “express its proximity to and pay tribute to the Venezuelan people: to all those who have been unjustly jailed for expressing their opinion, to those struggling to survive on a daily basis because of a brutal regime, to those families in mourning because they have lost loved ones in months of uninterrupted protests for freedom.” The €50,000-prize ($58,000; £45,000) will be awarded on 13 December in Strasbourg. Last year’s prize was awarded to two Yazidi women who escaped sexual enslavement by so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

“This award supports the fight of democratic forces for a democratic Venezuela,” said Guy Verhofstadt of the ALDE liberal group. He urged “the international community to join us in this fight for the freedom of the people of Venezuela”.

President Nícolas Maduro and his ruling United Socialist Party presided over regional governor elections on October 15 that shut out any meaningful participation of opposing candidates and or their voters, notes Stephen Johnson, the International Republican Institute’s Division Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Heading into this contest data suggested that opposition candidates would win as much as two-thirds of the governorships of Venezuela’s 23 states. An August Datanalisis survey found the opposition Democratic Unity Table candidate in one state ahead of the Socialist party candidate by nearly two to one, with top voter concerns being lack of food, crime, and high cost of living—all problems the Maduro government has government has brought to Venezuela, he writes for DemocracySpeaks:

Yet, after the precincts closed on election day, the National Electoral Council announced that with a large voter turnout of 61 percent Maduro’s party had won 17 of 23 states, including that one. It’s doubtful anyone will know the validity of the Council’s figures—the government barred independent organized observation. Still, there were enough reported irregularities and a lack of transparency that suggest outright manipulation, if not fraud. RTWT

Exporting kleptocracy

Corruption has afflicted Venezuela for decades, both before and during the presidency of Hugo Chávez. But under Maduro, who has completely eliminated the separation of powers, corruption and impunity are flourishing, according to Freedom House researchers:

Venezuelan corruption also has an international impact, compromising government officials abroad and obstructing accountability. This is especially true in Central American and Caribbean countries, where governments that have benefited from questionable oil deals with Venezuela have continued to back the Maduro regime and thwarted efforts by the Organization of American States (OAS) and others to address the breakdown in Venezuelan democracy.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email