Venezuela: A Maduro Dictatorship Emerges after Flawed Elections
In response to Venezuelan authorities’ use of force against demonstrators protesting unconstitutional elections called by the government, irregularities at the polls, and the arrest of opposition leaders following the vote on rewriting the country’s constitution, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The sham elections, and the violence and threats against critics of the government, show President Maduro’s regime to be a dictatorship intent only on maintaining its hold on power, without regard to the will of the country’s citizens or for human rights,” said Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House. “The United Nations Security Council, as well as the Organization of American States, should condemn the elections, as well as the killing of 130 protestors, and the arrest of more than 5,000, including 498 political prisoners. The arrests of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Mayor Antonio Ledezma of Caracas, who were abducted from their homes, as well as continued threats against Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz, an outspoken critic of the regime, should be addressed before the International Criminal Court.”
For 122 days, Venezuelans have engaged in mass protests across the country against the acute humanitarian crisis, a lack of separation of powers, and escalating repression and violence by the Maduro regime. The government has responded by arresting more than 5,051 protesters, including 498 political prisoners, and killing 130 people since April 1. Meanwhile, the regime has used military tribunals to sentence peaceful protestors.
In the midst of these protests, Maduro called for the National Constituent Assembly to rewrite the constitution and supersede other institutions, including the opposition-dominated congress and the Attorney General's Office. Last Sunday the National Electoral Council declared that more than 8 million Venezuelans voted and elected the candidates to draft a new constitution, though most reports note that polling places were largely empty all day. Moreover, the government's numbers cannot be corroborated since journalists and observers were forcibly denied access to polling stations.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.