Diosdado Cabello is watching a Chavista march against sanctions this Monday in Caracas.Rayner Peña R. (EFE)
Diosdado Cabello’s warning from a week ago has come true. The number two of Chavismo presented this Tuesday in the National Assembly a bill controlling the work of non-governmental organizations, which raised alarm in civil society over the possible restrictions it represents on freedom of association in the context of a humanitarian crisis and obtaining funds for international cooperation that most of these associations support.
“Behind an NGO there are faces, political parties, the rest is absolute hypocrisy. I’m sure that when we check the names of those who are behind these facades called NGOs, they live like royalty because they spend their time traveling the world,” said the deputy and deputy leader of the ruling party ( PSUV) during the debate. in which the norm was adopted, which will now move on to a second discussion in a parliament fully controlled by Chavismo.
The proposed law to oversee, regulate, perform and fund NGOs and causes has not been circulated publicly, but a draft circulating among organizations requires them To with the Comptroller General and provide affidavits of assets. In addition, it stipulates that they cannot engage in “political activities” or receive funds for doing so, giving the government the power to determine at its discretion what work may be considered such.
In the debate, Cabello pointed directly to one of the NGOs with the longest experience and reach in Venezuela, Provea, which defends victims of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture, among other human rights abuses. He also pointed out that Súmate is dedicated to overseeing the electoral system and promoting voting.
Nicolás Maduro’s government has been criminalizing the work of NGOs for years, with police harassment and arrests of their members. An emblematic case is that of Javier Tarazona, director of Fundaredes, imprisoned since July 2, 2021 for incitement and terrorism. Tarazona had documented and denounced human rights abuses during the armed conflict that took place that year between the Venezuelan army and former FARC guerrilla dissidents in southern Apure, on the border of the Arauca River. In Venezuela, a narrative has been built linking them to agents of foreign governments, as has happened in Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua, which has already passed a law that has led to the illegalization of more than 3,000 organizations.
The NGO ecosystem has been vital in recent years to deploy the aid and funds provided by the United Nations humanitarian agencies to stem the severe food and health crisis that a large segment of Venezuelans are experiencing. It is the mechanism that has made it possible to help the most vulnerable local populations. This new regulation may further suspend the viability of the deal signed at the negotiating table in Mexico last October to release $3,000 million in government accounts abroad to be distributed by the UN for health care, education and awareness for those affected by the previous year’s floods and landslides.
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