The European Parliament passed an anti-Venezuela resolution calling for a “delegation to be sent to assess the situation in Venezuela as soon as possible.”
The European Parliament called on Venezuela Thursday to release opposition members the Parliament claims were “arbitrarily detained” during opposition violence that resulted in 43 deaths last year.
The resolution follows a statement by the U.S. on Monday claiming that Venezuelan government authorities posted an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The statement also referred to the arrest of some opposition leaders who encouraged the violence.
In a resolution passed by 384 votes to 75, the European Parliament called on Venezuela’s government to “release all those detained and to end its opposition crackdown.” The Parliament did not call on Venezuela to release security officials who have been arrested for the few deaths they were responsible for, nor did it criticize the human rights violations committed by the opposition leaders, who for 4 months led a campaign to oust democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro. Right-wing opposition tactics included burning buses and health centers, stopping children from attending school, prohibiting sick people from getting to hospitals, and murdering various people who tried to clear barricades so that they could go to work.
The European Parliament’s statement referred to such actions by the opposition as “peaceful.”
Venezuela’s Ambassador to the EU, Antonio Garcia, told the press that the vote was part of a “broader campaign” against Venezuela and driven by domestic issues in some member states, such as Spain. Recent polls suggest Spain’s Podemos could win upcoming elections with similar anti-austerity politics which brought the left-wing Syriza party to power in Greece in January.
“It is not a secret to anyone that Venezuela is being used in Spain’s internal politics,” Garcia said.
The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias told the press Thursday that he didn’t support the U.S. sanctions and aggressions and said that “dialogue” was a better way to solve “international problems.”
Garcia noted that last time the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials, on Dec. 18, the European Parliament also voted on a resolution against Venezuela. He noted that the same thing has happened again and argued that the U.S. executive order was a “very serious attack on Venezuelan sovereignty.”
Venezuela: MEPs deeply concerned about violent crackdown on protesters
Plenary Session Press Release
12-03-2015 – 13:00
The Venezuelan authorities must immediately release all peaceful protesters, students and opposition leaders arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and fundamental rights, Parliament said in a vote on Thursday. The government must also put an end to the political persecution and repression of the democratic opposition, it added.
In the resolution, passed by 384 votes to 75, with 45 abstentions, MEPs call on the authorities immediately to release Antonio Ledezma, Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos, and all peaceful protesters, students and opposition leaders arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and fundamental rights. All the political prisoners must be given medical attention and have immediate, private and regular access to their families and lawyers of their choice, they add.
Let human rights defenders and NGOs do their work, security for all
The government must also create an environment in which human rights defenders and independent non-governmental organisations can do their legitimate work of promoting human rights and democracy and ensuring the security of all citizens, regardless of their political views and affiliations, MEPs insist. They point to the particular responsibility of Venezuela, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, to comply with the rule of law and international law.
Restraint and genuine national dialogue needed
MEPs are concerned that new protests could lead to more violence, which would further polarise the already sensitive political developments in Venezuela.
They call on all parties and sections of society to remain calm in both actions and words.
They also point out that the opposition has suffered arbitrary detentions and attacks in an election year, which could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process. They call on the authorities to use the pre-election period to establish a genuine national dialogue, with the meaningful participation of all democratic political forces.
The resolution was passed by 384 votes to 75, with 45 abstentions.
Local and international organisations report that one year after the peaceful demonstrations in Venezuela, over 1,700 protesters await trial, more than 69 remain jailed, and at least 40 have been killed in protests. Their murderers remain unaccountable.