Leading Venezuelan Activists to Address Washington Gathering on Human Rights Abuse in Venezuela

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As Nicolas Maduro's regime in Venezuela steps up its repression of the pro-democracy demonstrations that have roiled the country for nearly two months, leading Venezuelan human rights activists and political analysts have been gathered together by the Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas for a seminar that will highlight the systematic abuse of human rights by the authorities in Venezuela.

in Venezuela, we have in essence a military regime that engages in massive corruption and abuses its citizens with abandon - and yet, most of the governments on our continent remain silent. - Leopoldo Martinez, CEO of CDDA

As Nicolas Maduro's regime in Venezuela steps up its repression of the pro-democracy demonstrations that have roiled the country for nearly two months, leading Venezuelan human rights activists and political analysts will gather in Washington today, March 27, 2014, for a seminar that will highlight the systematic abuse of human rights by the authorities in Caracas and other cities.

"The human cost of our peaceful struggle against the Maduro regime and its failed policies has been tremendous," said Sergio Dahbar, a leading free speech advocate and columnist for the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional, who will address the seminar. "The death toll has surpassed 30, while the number of citizens imprisoned for peacefully protesting has exceeded 1,000. Many of these detainees have endured torture and sexual abuse at the hands of the National Guard.

"The more we urge the Venezuelan regime to engage in dialogue with the opposition, the more they demonize and repress us," Dahbar continued, "for example, by slandering us as 'fascists,' by incarcerating opposition politicians like Leopoldo Lopez, and by removing the parliamentary immunity of Maria Corina Machado, one of the most courageous opposition voices in the National Assembly."

Tomorrow's Washington event will also focus on the failure of the Inter-American Human Rights System to adequately protect the human and civil rights of Venezuelans.

"We thought we had left the days of military governments in Latin America far behind," said Leopoldo Martinez, the CEO of the Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas (CDDA,) which is co-hosting the event with leading NGO Freedom House. "But in Venezuela, we have in essence a military regime that engages in massive corruption and abuses its citizens with abandon - and yet, most of the governments on our continent remain silent."

Ramon José Medina, a speaker at the event and Adjunct Executive Secretary of the MUD said, “There is an assault on democracy. In less than one week and without due process, the government has unseated the mayors of San Diego, Enzo Scarano, and Daniel Ceballos in San Cristobal, sending both to prison for 10 and 12 months respectively. This two opposition mayors were elected in December in both cities with 75% and 67% of the popular vote. The government has also initiated proceedings against other mayors in the city of Caracas such as Ramon Muchacho (Chacao), Gerardo Blyde (Baruta) and David Smolansky (El Hatillo)”.

"The State of Human Rights in Venezuela" will be held at the National Press Club from 6-8PM on March 27. As well as Mr Dahbar, Mr Martinez and Mr Medina, speakers include Mario Ponce, of the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, which has closely monitored government acts of repression, and social activists Carlos Patiño, Marino Alvarado and Marianela Balbi.

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For interview requests and to confirm attendance, please contact Rosa Rodriguez at CDDA:
Email: venezuela_initiative(at)cddamericas.org
Telephone: (202) 431-3790

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Rosa Rodriguez
CDDA
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