(Mérida 07/02/2020).- Victims, specialists and representatives of the Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) were this Thursday, February 6 and Friday, February 7 in the city of Cúcuta, Colombia, to participate in the meetings of Venezuelans held with the delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), where they presented cases of human rights violations committed by the Venezuelan State in Mérida.
The meetings with the delegates of the IACHR were held at the Quinta Teresa Cultural Center. More than 18 Venezuelan human rights organizations were present along with victims who presented their cases to the president of the IACHR, Esmeralda Arosemena; the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (DESCA), Soledad García Muñoz; and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELA), Edison Lanza. A technical team from the organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) was also present.
Manuel Guillén and Leonard Rondón, two young people who partially lost their vision because of direct shots to their faces caused by police officials in the framework of the social protests of 2017, told the IACHR delegation their cases, for which there is no no detainees nor justice has been done.
The ODH-ULA accounted more than 20 people who lost one or both eyes as a result of the state repression exerted during the social protests of 2017, only in the state of Mérida. The most recent case of this type also occurred in the Andean region of the country, specifically in Táchira, where the teenager Rufo Chacón lost both eyes due to shot shots shot by police officials on July 1, 2019, while a citizen protest was taking place due to lack of domestic gas.
Regarding this repressive practice, Estrella Uzcátegui, a Venezuelan doctor and former director of the Autonomous Institute of Los Andes University Hospital (Iahula) in Mérida, told the IACHR delegation about the characteristics of the pellets extracted from the faces of the victims, which they had been intentionally modified in their material composition to cause as much damage as possible. These evidences have been included in the reports prepared by the ODH-ULA.
Another of the victims who presented her case to the IACHR delegates was Gerardo Paredes, cousin of Wuilderman Paredes, who was killed in a gasoline queue in June 2019 by an officer of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB, by its acronym in Spanish). Paredes told the rapporteurs of the fact, in which he was also shot by the PNB officials who caused serious injuries and almost death.
The ODH-ULA lawyers told the IACHR delegates of the few irregularities committed during the current trial in this case, in which they are defenders of the victims by extension of the deceased – his mother, his widow and his daughter – and by Gerardo Paredes.
Attacks on universities
Finally, this Observatory did not omit to tell the IACHR delegation about the repeated violations committed against the country’s autonomous universities and their professors, students, authorities, and administrative and labor personnel. The ODH-ULA recalled the cases of professors Manuel Rachadell and Miguel Albujas, who are unfairly subject to precautionary measures,
The ODH-ULA also referred to the IACHR delegates on the recent ruling No. 0324 issued by the Constitutional Chamber of the illegitimate Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ, by its acronym in Spanish), through which it is intended to further undermine the already attacked university autonomy. This Observatory appreciates the IACHR’s effort to achieve this meeting on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, as a way of approaching the victims of the illegitimate regime headed by Nicolás Maduro and giving them the opportunity to present their cases, before the blockade exercised by the regime to the on-site visit that this main and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) had planned to do in Venezuela.