ODH-ULA was able evidence that police and military personnel used their firearms against unarmed civilians during the social protests in 2017.

(Mérida 04/30/2020) – The peaceful social protests that were registered during 2017 in several states of the country, these were brutally repressed by officials of the public forces and paramilitary groups, whose criminal actions remain unpunished. Only in Merida, the Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) estimated that more than 2,000 people were injured, that 15 people were murdered, more than 40 attacks and raids on private property were carried out, and 290 victims were arbitrarily detained, humiliated and tortured. These violations of human rights began just three years ago, on April, 2017.

Although the Venezuelan justice has been hijacked by the de facto regime, ODH-ULA has not ceased its struggle to demand justice for all victims, as well as due reparation and compensation by the state and with the competent international entities. Likewise, this Observatory will not stop denouncing that the repression carried out during 2017, and during all the social protests against the regime led by Nicolás Maduro, it constitutes a criminal state policy.

Criminal repression since 2014

In the report realized and entitled «Merida: an assault on human rights» by ODH-ULA in 2017, it is highlighted that since the protests carried out in 2014, there is a pattern of the violation of human rights in Merida. This consists of the coordinated action of security forces of the state and paramilitary groups or the so-called «collectives».

«This pattern increased in 2017 when officials of the Police of Merida State (Polimérida), Bolivarian National Police (PNB), Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) caused considerable damage to the physical and psychological integrity of demonstrators, they used prohibited ammunition in the control of public demonstrations such as bullets, steel rods and cartridge with marbles, so they violated the standards of performance because they fired at the most vulnerable areas of the human body,» the report of this Observatory detailed it.

Consequently of criminal repression in the context of peaceful demonstrations between April and July 2017, 22 people lost their eyesight in full or in part as a result the shots fired directly into their eyes. The medical tests made to these victims determined that the embedded bullets were intentionally modified with the aim of causing as much damage as possible.

Unpunished Deaths vs. Framed Innocent

Between April and July 2017, a total of 15 people were murdered in five municipalities of the Merida state as part of social protests against the national government.

Jesús Sulbarán, Luis Márquez, Anderson Dugarte, Luis Gutiérrez, Douglas Acevedo, José Márquez, Carlos Paredes, Rafael Balza, Ender Caldera, Oneibis Quiñones, Marcel Pereira, Eduardo Olave, Ángelo Méndez, José Sánchez y José Monsalve died between on April 24 and July 30, 2017. The most of these deaths remain unpunished.

However, Erickvaldo Márquez, who is a student at the University of Los Andes, was arrested on September 13, 2017 by the murders of Jesús Sulbarán and Luis Márquez. The charges against him by those deaths don`t present any evidence, so his innocence remains unquestioned. Márquez remains in detention. His trial, which is being monitored by legal team of ODH-ULA, has been plagued by irregularities.

Also, Daniel Parra and Richard Alamo were arrested by the death of Douglas Acevedo between on September 8 and 9, 2017. Parra is remained in detention.

In addition to these detentions and accusations without evidence, ODH-ULA verified at least 290 arbitrary arrests made without detention order and flagrant crime from police and military officials between April and October, 2017. «The detainees claimed to have received cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during their detention,» the report in 2017 of this Observatory stated it.

Violation of private property

Between May and July 2017, ODH-ULA verified 33 attacks on residential areas made by law enforcement officials or armed groups. Likewise, 12 illegal raids were confirmed by this Observatory in the Libertador, Campo Elías and Tovar municipalities. They were carried out by the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas (Cicpc) and Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia (Sebin) officials. None of the affected owners have received reparations or compensation.

ODH-ULA has taken on the legitimate defense of some of the regime’s victims of criminal repression effected three years ago. Some cases have also been taken to international entities. This Observatory is emphasized that crimes committed against human rights and crimes against humanity there was no statute of limitations.

Three years of impunity in Merida

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