Barcelona/ Mambí en A/ The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the murders of Paola Andreina Ramírez, 23, and Carlos Moreno, 17, who were killed by regime-funded paramilitary groups known as “colectivos revolucionarios.” Both Ramírez and Moreno were killed during anti-authoritarian demonstrations that have rocked Venezuela over the last few days. Ramírez died after being shot in the head on Wednesday afternoon in San Cristóbal, while Moreno was shot in the head around noon in Caracas. HRF also condemns the killing of National Guard Sergeant Neomar San Clemente Barrios in Las Salias, and calls for all resistance to authoritarianism to be nonviolent.
“Maduro’s regime has shown once again that it is willing to terrorize Venezuelans and wipe out all its critics without any consideration for human life, as long as it is able to remain in power. Meanwhile, its supporters continue to brazenly proclaim that in Venezuela ‘there is a democracy and the right to protest is guaranteed,’” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “The democratic world must stand firm in support of the young men and women in Venezuela who are risking their lives for freedom and democracy by rejecting Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship,” added Halvorssen.
The three deaths happened on Wednesday during a series of massive demonstrations dubbed “the mother of all protests,” which took place in all corners of the country to demand presidential elections. Last year, the regime denied the Venezuelan people the opportunity to vote in a referendum to recall Maduro, even though the representatives of the Mesa de la Unidad, the main political opposition group, complied with all the requirements established by law and in the constitution in calling for the vote.
During the last few weeks, discontent with the regime has intensified. Protests have addressed the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country, as well as the decision by the regime-controlled Supreme Tribunal of Justice to strip the National Assembly of its legislative powers and Venezuelan parliamentarians of their immunity.
According to HRF’s sources in Venezuela, more than 500 people have been arrested in the last two days. In the next 48 hours, it will be known which protesters will remain under arrest indefinitely, and which will be released provisionally. Between April 4 and April 16, 538 people were arrested, and at least eight people have been killed by firearms during the protests in April, including those that were murdered yesterday. These numbers reflect an escalation of the regime’s crackdown. Since 2014, the number of prisoners of conscience in the country’s prisons has reached almost 140 people, and there have been at least 6893 arbitrary detentions.