Venezuelan Program of Education and Action on Human Rights, PROVEA | Issue N° 07 | October 2013

Provea reached its first 25 years of struggle for the respect of human rights in Venezuela. Now in its seventh international newsletter the Venezuelan Program of Education and Action on Human Rights is offering information about the increasing authoritarian tendencies in the management of the new government that emulates most of the features of the infamous National Security Doctrine. As specific topic, this newsletter deals with the impact of extractive policies on the rights of indigenous peoples and the right to a healthy environment. Finally, we will share in our 25th anniversary, our difficulties and challenges in the current context of the country. Our newsletter is available in Spanish, Portuguese, English and French on our website We welcome your suggestions and comments to the e-mail

Want to know the 20 human rights landscape in the past 15 years in Venezuela? See our special report “15 years on human rights: social inclusion, political exclusion”


Because of the criticism, the National Executive retires notions of “internal and external enemy” of new legislation
On October 7, according to the Official Gazette 405 839, the National Executive created a new organization called the Centre for Strategic Security and Protection of the Homeland (CESSPA), whose aim was to “unify the flow of information on sensitive issues of security, defense , intelligence and domestic law, foreign affairs and other public and private institutions that are required to facilitate and contribute to the decision making process, as well as anticipate and neutralize potential threats to its vital interests. “ According to the decree, the CESSPA have the following functions: “to solicit, organize, integrate and evaluate relevant information to the strategic level of the nation, associated with internal and external enemy activity, from all security and intelligence State agencies and other public and private entities, as required by the Political-Military Steering of the Bolivarian Revolution”. PROVEA and other non-governmental organizations began to report potential human rights violations to occur as a result of introducing, for the first time in the country’s legal framework, the notions of “internal enemy” and “external enemy” that characterized the “National Security doctrine “in the region. That same doctrine that did so much damage in the 60’s and 70’s to the nations that today are part of the MERCOSUR regional bloc. The national security doctrine, served as an excuse to commit serious human rights violations by the dictatorships of the time. Increasing authoritarian tendencies in governance are confirming this statement. Already some of these features existed under the government of former President Hugo Chavez.


Let’s look at these disturbing features: • The development of a discourse and rules on the existence of an internal enemy to defeat to which we must apply “the full weight of the law.” With that goal is instrumentalized Justice System, censorship is imposed for the critical opinions and establish codes about what the public can be informed about. Public Information System is used to launch campaigns that seek to spread hatreds in some sectors of the population against these “internal enemies.” An example of this discourse is clearly reflected in the official news agency reported on oath made by President mature, the “Military Civic Union:” The agency urged people to “know very well who are the enemies of the country (...) the full names of those enemies, where they are, what they think, what their psychology is “.

• The militarization of governance, not only placing active and retired military in top and middle positions but imposing a logic operation, which consists of commanding and obeying, fading away processes of consultation and participation. • The use of the Armed Forces to confront social protest mainly against workers in the state’s basic enterprises merges with threats to the striking workers and a speech criminalizing union activity. • The militarization of public security work, gradually abandoning efforts from the year 2006 to implement a democratic doctrine on the phenomenon of crime. This militarization is imposed in violation of Article 332 of the Constitution and Decree that created the All Life Mission to Venezuela. In the new vision of government, the work of national defense and internal security fuse to confront and defeat the “enemies of the country”. • Continued efforts to organize and involve sectors of the population to fight the “enemies of the revolution”, using for this purpose the resources of the State. Following the complaint from different sectors of the country, the government of President Nicolas Maduro eliminated the most dangerous concepts of the new state institution. Even with everything positive that this decision may be, it ran erratically, weakening democratic institutions in the country. The Official Gazette 40,266 of October 7, 2013 included a “reprint by faults in the original papers” related to the 458 decree, ordering the creation of CESSPA, modifying the decree substantially. One of the items corrected was the number 3, defining the object body, eliminating the phrase “associated with internal or external enemy activity” referred to in the original text. President Maduro has missed an opportunity for dialogue

Among some of the actions carried out by PROVEA throughout its history, highlight the following: • Advised the President Nicolas Maduro when as unionist, he suffered the violation of the trade union immunity by the Caracas Metro company. • During the 2002 coup, asked the Human Rights Commission precautionary measures in favor of former President Hugo Chavez. • It is the co-editor of the Refugee Act and the Act on Housing, both in force today. • Prevented by a writ of amparo the charging enrollments in Simon Bolivar University, a former test from Caldera government to eliminate free public education. • Has defended Basque, Colombians and Peruvians political asylees, added to hundreds of Colombian refugees, and has even defended state security officials, who have suffered human rights violations. with the aim of correcting the most dangerous aspects of the new body. PROVEA has repeatedly reiterated that the country no longer requires more confrontation, however, Venezuela needs to create spaces for dialogue to explore minimum consensus to the serious problems affecting the population, mainly insecurity, high cost of living, shortages and deficiencies in public services.


Extractivism and indigenous rights
The government of President Maduro, continuing the promise made by his predecessor Hugo Chavez has pledged to increase oil production to 6 million barrels per day and gas to 11.9 million cubic feet by 2019, according to the “Plan of the Nation 2013-2019”among other natural resources to exploit. However, many of the sites to be developed are indigenous territories, without any made provisions mentioned in Article 120 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (CRBV), on the exercise of the right to free, prior and informed consultation as a prerequisite for the utilization of natural resources in indigenous habitats by the state. According to the 2011 population census, the country’s indigenous communities are made up of 725 148 people. The deepening of such extractive economy in the country is without mitigating the social and environmental impacts generated. According to the environmental assessment conducted in 2010 by the ARA environmental network “in the case of the oil industry, its impacts not only occur in the production area, but continue along transport processes, refining and distribution”. According to the report, “There is no clear information on mitigation and compensation measures, as well as process control and supervision necessary to avoid creating serious environmental and social damage.” In the case of mining additional

problems have been highlighted, like the presence of so-called Garimpeiros (prospectors) and allegations about the involvement of military officers in the exploitation of different mines. The Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon ( COIAM ) has said that “The entry of prospectors to Venezuela has been constant and cyclical , and the Venezuelan state responses in terms of effective action to control the systematic presence of illegal mining on Yanomami lands have been poor, unstructured and without obeying specific plans”. On the other hand, communities Pemon of the Gran Sabana, twice, disarmed military officials that conducted illegal mining activities. The Indigenous also reported mistreatment by officials of the

Pemon communities disarmed soldiers for exercising illegal mining Photo: Correo del Caroní

armed forces against communities and the use of military courts against their leaders arrested. On the pollution generated by the oil industry in indigenous populations, PROVEA corroborated allegations of Tascabaña Kariña ethnicity in Anzoategui state, on the emission of methane gas in its their main source of water reserves, which has prevented traditional food harvesting and water supply through trucks and storage tanks paid by the state oil industry, Petroleos de Venezuela ( PDVSA ) . Article 119 of the CRBV, mandates the National Executive to demarcate and guarantee the right to collective ownership of the land that belonged to the indigenous ethnic groups since ancient times, however, this constitutional mandate has been failed. The twelfth transitory statement of the constitution set up to two years for the demarcation process, and today far less than 5% of the territory of indigenous communities has been demarcated and turned over to their owners. To PROVEA one of the main causes of this stagnation is the presence of different energy and mineral resources. The absence of collateral on indigenous land rights has been the source of conflicts in different parts of the country, especially in the state of Zulia. PROVEA revealed, in its Annual Report of 2012 that during that same year, six indigenous people (Yukpas) were killed by conflicts over land

tenure. The yukpa chieftain Sabino Romero was killed 03/05/13. He had carried out different actions for enforcing rights to push for the demarcation of indigenous habitat and reject the exploitation of minerals in their territories. Although the authorities have shown speed in the capture and prosecution of alleged perpetrators, Zulia state social organizations have expressed doubts about the transparency of the investigation and the lack of political will to punish the masterminds of the crime. Given the above situation, PROVEA has required government: • Advance the process of demarcation of indigenous territories, as established by the CRBV and the Organic Law of Indigenous Peoples and Communities (LOPCI). • Conduct transparent environmental impact studies to measure the degree of pollution generated by mining activity in indigenous territories, publicizing their results as a basis for the exercise of the right to free, prior and informed of indigenous communities to develop projects in its territory. • Investigate and punish in a transparent, expeditious and attached to the rule of law procedure, the murders of indigenous people in the context of conflicts over land tenure.


PROVEA: 25 years defending and promoting human rights
PROVEA fulfilled this October 25 years of work in defense of human rights in Venezuela since its inception in 1988. That year in the border area with Colombia 14 fishermen were killed by state security bodies, and make them pass off as Colombian guerrillas killed in combat, in what is known as the slaughter of El Amparo. PROVEA accompanied the victims seeking justice and took the case to the Inter American System of Human Rights Protection, which generated the first sentence of the Inter American Court of Human Rights against the Venezuelan government. Later continue to support the victims of the crimes of the Caracazo (1999), victims of the coup attempts in February and November 1992 and accompanied the victims of cases of enforced disappearances by the army and police in the middle of the landslide in the state of Vargas (1999), reported the incidents related to the coup of 2002, among others. PROVEA also contributed in the construction of legal rules favorable to human rights, in particular the discussion and drafting of human rights standards set today by the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 1999 and the adoption of standards on refugees and asylum seekers and housing and environmental law. At the same time developing educational strategies, implemented alongside victims defense strategies of free university education and the right to health in cases like mass poisoning of patients and medical staff in 1993 in the Hospital “Jose Antonio Vargas” in Maracay, Aragua State, among other cases.

First presentation of Provea’s Annual Report, December 1989. Photo: Archive

But progress at the regulatory level in human rights, such as education or the right to food, come in contrast to the increasing authoritarian tendencies in governance of President Nicolas Maduro that create favorable conditions for the violation of human rights. On the other hand, the right to public participation in the management of the State is being conditioned to political affiliation of people with the ideals of the government while implementing the project of a communal state conditional on social and popular organizations. On the other hand there is a growing militarization process in the public administration and citizen security work, undermining the effort since 2006 to create and install a democratic

vision that respects human rights in confronting crime. Initiatives such as the construction of a new police model through the National Experimental University of Security face today the deployment of the Bolivarian National Armed Force to respond to serious safety problems in the country. Then there is impunity for human rights violations committed by the security forces in works of crime control. PROVEA acknowledged the State’s progress on economic social and cultural rights while remaining vigilant and critical in situations of human rights violations. Its funding sources are clearly stated on their website as part of the right of human rights organizations to receive international cooperation to do their job. There have been epithets and insults from the Executive every time that PROVEA worked independently, monitoring the situation of human rights and reporting violations of these rights. In the high government was installed as state policy, a discourse of threats and intimidation against critical voices, internal
Supporting human rights defenders

dissent and social protest. In particular human rights organizations are now one of the objectives of this policy. Recently was created in the National Assembly, a special commission formed by deputies, whose aim is to investigate the contribution of international cooperation with NGOs in Venezuela. According to one of its members, the first meeting of the commission was to the intelligence and security officials. In this context, it should be considered the approval of the Foreign Assistance Act whose purpose is to control the financing of social organizations that receive funds from abroad. Now as always, human rights organizations play a fundamental role in the life of democracy in Venezuela. The Venezuelan state has the obligation under national and international law, to ensure that human rights defenders their right to undertake this activity. PROVEA, as an independent organization, is always ready to engage in constructive dialogue with the State, in order to safeguard the rights of victims and to contribute to public policy to ensure human rights.

It is available the 2012 Annual Report on the situation of Human Rights in Venezuela, may be consulted on the website of PROVEA:

Programa Venezolano de Educación – Acción en Derechos Humanos Tienda Honda a Puente Trinidad, Bulevar Panteón, Parroquia Altagracia, Edif. Centro Plaza Las Mercedes, P.B. Local 6, Caracas, Venezuela Apartado Postal 5156, Carmelitas 1010-A Teléfonos: (58) 212-860.66.69 / 862.53.33 / 862.10.11 Sitio web: Twitter:@_provea E-mail: investigació

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