The following Report documents human rights violations that occurred in Mérida state, Venezuela. A series of protests took place from February through July, 2014. The following report offers information about demonstrations that occurred in Táchira state and that directly affected the University of Los Andes, such as the destruction of the radio station of the Táchira branch of the University of Los Andes. It also offers testimonies about the intimidation of some teachers by police officers that constantly sent them massive official summons. To sum up, the following report highlights the situation of danger and insecurity that students and professors faced inside and outside the University campus—a situation that took the lives of students and university staff and that was at the root of the protests.
Secondly, the Report documents violations of freedom of assembly, association and pacific demonstration. It also gives account of the diverse modalities of peaceful protests that were carried out, such as mass meetings, public assemblies, vigils, banners protest (pancartazos) collective prayers, flyers protests (volanteos), nude protests, human chains (cadenas humanas), pot banging protests (cacerolazos), and barricades that, despite their peaceful nature, were excessively repressed by police and military officers together with illegally armed civilians.
Thirdly, the Report describes in detail a series of violations of personal integrity and disproportionate use of force against civilians, applied by police and military officers. Testimonies of people who were victims of torture and/or inhuman or degrading treatment are included, and the most recurring patterns of such treatment are described—such us beatings, electric shocks, pellets shots, etc. Testimonies also give account of psychological abuses such as insults and rape and death threats.
Fourthly, a list of people who died in the context of the protests is provided. Between February and March 2014, four people died in Merida due to the several violent events that occurred in the city. A person died when colliding with a steel cable placed by protesters and the three others were shot to death by unknown shooters. Judicial authorities haven’t yet clarified the crimes that remains unpunished.
Fifthly, the Report documents illegal and arbitrary detentions that occurred during the protests as well as violations of due process.
Sixthly, the Report documents residential attacks. Forty one residences were attacked when their inhabitants were protesting. Excessive use of force, illegal raids, use of guns and excessive use of toxic substances (like tear gas) against the residents, directly affected neighbours, including old people and pregnant women as well as pedestrians.
Finally, we conclude that human rights violations occurred in Merida state during the documented period remain unpunished and we ask the Attorney General’s Office to initiate the necessary and transparent investigations in order to determine responsibilities and apply due punishments.