Venezuela: protest crackdown on rights activists

Amnesty International on Oct. 16 called on Venezuela to halt an "escalating campaign of attacks and harassment against human rights activists," noting that President Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly criticized the work of rights organizations and workers in recent weeks. In a televised speech Aug. 21, he attacked Marino Alvarado of local human rights group PROVEA, portraying the organization as in league with the right-wing Opposition. A few weeks later, on Oct. 1, armed men attacked Alvarado in his doorway as he arrived home with his nine-year-old son. An investigation has been launched and the Public Ministry has requested protection measures for him and his family. (AI, Oct. 16)

Also Oct. 16. Venezuelan opposition politician Manuel Rosales was arrested on his return to the country after six years of self-imposed exile. Rosales, who said he wanted to take part in December's parliamentary elections, was detained shortly after landing in the city of Maracaibo from the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba. A pillar of the right opposition, Rosales ran against the late President Hugo Chávez in 2006, then fled to Peru in 2009 amid corruption allegations that he called politically motivated. He is charged with abuse of power during his term as governor of Zulia state between 2000 and 2008. (BBC News, Oct. 16)

  1. Venezuelan opposition leader slain

    A regional opposition leader in Venezuela was been shot dead at a campaign rally less than two weeks before congressional elections. The Democratic Action party says Luis Manuel Diaz was killed by a man who approached the stage after a public meeting in central Guarico state. Opposition leaders blamed militias supporting the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). (BBC, Reuters, Nov. 26) PSUV leader Jorge Rodriguez said Diaz was involved in a criminal gang in the region, Los Plateados, suggesting the slaying was drug-related. (TeleSur)