The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela through the eyes of Marianna, a lawyer and human rights defender.

This blog was originally written for and published at Justice and Peace official website.

“We have to survive and teach our children that there is no food”, grandmother’s words from Caracas. “Children beg for food outside my door every evening”, says the owner of a local restaurant in Caracas too. “The only thing that the health institution provides are the bed, the mattress and the presence of doctors and nurses”, states the Head of local Nurses Union in Venezuela. “There is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. There is not. I say this with full responsibility”, declared Delcy Rodriguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Local people present the socio-economic crisis in the country, while at the same time the government sustains the exact opposite. Marianna, a lawyer and human rights defender from Venezuela, gives a thorough image of the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in her country. Marianna shares her experiences with Ioanna from Justice and Peace Netherlands, the NGO where she attended the The Hague Training Course on security and advocacy last June.

photo made by Anette Brolenius

“The situation in Venezuela is extremely bad. This crisis has afflicted the entire population, not only the poor communities. Millions of people are suffering because of the lack of food supplies and medicines. Children eat from the rubbish and families feed from the common meals. The conditions in hospitals are indescribable. Immense shortages of medicine and equipment cause the death of lots of people, including babies, every day. The levels of poverty, criminality and corruption are on a constant rise. Furthermore, those who participate in human rights demonstrations are considered as criminals of the State”. Marianna based on her research on this issue, concludes that this socio – economic crisis in Venezuela is the consequence of bad implementation of policies in 2014. At the same time, the government of Venezuela denies any human rights violation while the politicians sustain that the raise of poverty and the number of deaths are the unfortunate result of the current financial crisis. In addition, the State has also allowed its responsibility for food distribution to the army forces.

Venezuela’s democracy has been shaken the past 17 years since this party is being on power. Our fundamental human rights have been violated. In December 2015 we had the chance to assert our right to regain our democracy through a referendum, but the government delayed any of our efforts. We don’t have the right to vote, neither freedom of speech, nor possibility of participation in public audiences. There is no respect to the law rules and the political discrimination is increasing steadily. People who participate in peaceful demonstrations have been arrested, tortured and treated as criminals. I remember a year ago when some of my friends were protesting in Caracas, they had been hit and arrested by the police. This is not democracy, this is dictatorship”.

Marianna works as a lawyer and researcher in a Center for Human Rights at an University, where she defends and struggles for people’s civil-political rights, freedom of expression and together with her colleagues participates in peaceful demonstrations for peace and refugees. In collaboration with almost 60 others NGOs, they struggle for their democratic principles, even though they have been characterized as criminals of the State too. “We try our best to assert our democracy and preserve the freedom of expression. Our work in cooperation with the local human rights defenders is getting more difficult, but we won’t stop. Through several actions and trainings, including The Hague Training Course last June, in digital security and advocacy, I learnt new methods and now I follow different and safer paths to carry on my job. In addition, I retrained more people here in Venezuela and now we all work in a more secure and effective way. The situation here is really harsh but I won’t let anything stop what I do. I believe that we will succeed to bring justice and weaken this unhealthy political environment”.