(Mérida 21/10/2019) – On October 17th, the panel «Venezuela: derechos humanos y cooptación del Estado» was held at the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellín, organized by the Research Group on Political Studies of that university and the Research Group Saber, Poder y Derecho of the University of Antioquia. The objective of the activity was to make visible the political causes of the complex humanitarian emergency in Venezuela, which has generated the greatest forced migration of people in the region.
Mayda Hočevar, director of the Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA), and Víctor Mijares, Venezuelan internationalist and professor at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, were the two panelists of the meeting that took place during the morning in the Guillermo Jaramillo Barrientos auditorium of the Pontifical Bolivarian University and was attended by professors, researchers and students of Law and Political Science.
The purpose of this activity was to deepen the political causes of the Venezuelan crisis and its consequent incidence in Colombia and the other countries of the region. In the opinion of the panelists, these causes make it possible to increase political and legal understanding of the origin of a system based on two fundamental pillars: the destruction of democratic institutions and the consolidation of corruption networks through the co-optation of the State.
Destruction of democratic institutions
Hočevar based his presentation on showing the ways and mechanisms through which democratic institutions have been destroyed in Venezuela, dating back to Hugo Chávez’s arrival in power in 1999. Specifically, he explained to those present the system of Missions created by the ruling party to take away the functions of democratic institutions, as well as the creation and imposition of parallel bodies at the service of the governing party.
As director of ODH-ULA, Hočevar also dedicated part of her presentation to explaining the current situation of academic freedom in the country, reviewing the creation and functioning of the parallel university system that since 2003, through the Sucre Mission, promotes government as a state policy to diminish and undermine university autonomy.
Cooptation to create and consolidate corruption networks
Víctor Mijares, for his part, explained how cooptation works in the Venezuelan state through the creation and management of corruption networks that operate within the government and whose scope is transnational. According to Valenzuela and Yévenes (2015), political cooptation is «a practice that originates from the leading elites of a nation, who seek to maintain the status quo or establishment of the prevailing regimes in exchange for the delivery of benefits, whether economic or social.
In this sense, Mijares explained the functioning of the corruption networks created by the Venezuelan state in which political leaders, military and agents of organized crime participate, as well as other governments. Mijares has focused his most recent line of research specifically on relations of this type between Russia and Venezuela. He is currently carrying out the research project “Petro-states in World Politics: Foreign Policy and Security Strategies”.