Perspectives

Venezuela: Government Cracks Down on Opposition in Advance of Sept. 1 Protest

The Venezuelan government is taking new measures against opposition leaders in advance of an anti-government protest scheduled for September 1.

In response to the Venezuelan government taking new measures against opposition leaders in advance of an anti-government protest scheduled for September 1, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The Venezuelan government’s wave of arbitrary detentions shows alarming disregard for rule of law and government’s increasing insecurity in the face of dissent,” said Carlos Ponce, Director of Latin America Programs. “The government fabricates reasons to imprison its opponents, incarcerating them in inhumane prisons to stifle dissent. The government should release Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, and others immediately, end the authorities’ pursuit of Lester Toledo, and ensure that the September 1 rally takes place without violence or intimidation.”

Background:

Leading up to an opposition protest in support of a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office, the government on August 28 transferred opposition leader Daniel Ceballos, who had been under house arrest since 2014, to a prison without a valid court order and accused of planning to instigate acts of violence during the upcoming rally. On August 29, Venezuela’s SEBIN police force abducted opposition figure Yon Goicoechea from his car, claiming that he possessed bomb-making materials to be used during the upcoming protests. SEBIN officers also raided the home of Lester Toledo, head of the opposition party Voluntad Popular, also without a warrant, accusing him of financing terrorism. Toledo, who was not at home, has gone into hiding.

Venezuela is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016 , and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.