VHeadline.com : Saturday, April 13, 2002 — Invoking the 1999 Constitution and instruments of international human rights protection signed by the Republic, La Red de Apoyo por la Justicia y la Paz, Humana Dignitas, Vicaria de Derechos Humanos de Cumana and Provea once again address the national and international community in view of the specially difficult circumstances our country, Venezuela is experiencing.

We are independent HR groups that have acted for more than a decade in accordance with applicable norms and principles on the basis of non-discrimination.

We manifest the following:

1) At the moment there has been no independent and impartial verification of the duly elected President’s resignation … the only certainty we have is that he has been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty. If his decision to resign is verified, the 1999 Constitution art. 233 indicates procedures to ensure constitutional continuity, none of which have been guaranteed. If indeed he hasn’t resigned, it would place the authorities outside the Constitution and Rule of Law, in which case we characterize the situation as a Coup d’Etat.

2) “The Provisional Government” headed by Pedro Carmona Estanga is unconstitutional. However, insofar as he has control over the population and territory, he has concrete obligations to respect and guarantee human rights that protect the whole population in the current conflict. During the first two days, we have witnessed arbitrary raids and arrests of political and social leaders (some of whom enjoy parliamentary immunity), who have objected to the Coup d’Etat and repression of manifestations demanding the freedom of President Hugo Chavez Frias with at least one protester dead.

3. We especially demand that all arrests and investigations into the events of April 11 respect legal guarantees and the human rights of persons under investigation and that they be undertaken according to the 1999 Constitution. We reject any attempt to detain people for “crimes of opinion,” as in the case of National Assemblyman and human rights defender Tarek William Saab on Friday.

4. We demand an exhaustive and impartial investigation by the organs stipulated in the 1999 Constitution regarding deaths and injured registered during the events of April 11 that caused more than a dozen deaths and a hundred persons injured by bullets and which involved national and regional security forces. As we have never ceased to point out, we express concern for signs of social intolerance, which we have observed both in the context of the arrest of public officials as well as at the manifestation at the Cuban Embassy, which is under siege and with electricity and water cut off in the presence of police officers. These actions do not favor the construction of peace and harmony, to which the whole Venezuelan people legitimately aspires.

5. We call on all international social HR organizations to express solidarity, through whatever means they think best, with the Venezuelan society in this situation of political crisis, which has been resolved by breaking the constitution thread. We especially request you to lobby your States not to accept the de facto government and to open up the Embassies to protect those suffering political persecution.

6. We call on the Inter American Government Community to take a stand as regards the institutional crisis that Venezuela is facing applying Inter American Democratic Charter Art.19, which establishes the condemnation of “rupture of the constitutional order that seriously affects the democratic order” of member States and at the same time we call on the continent’s democratic governments to request the immediate convocation of the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council in virtue of applying said Charter’s Art. 20 so that said instance can “undertake a collective appraisal of the situation and adopt the decisions it deems necessary.”

Caracas, April 13 2002