The lack of democratic quality in Venezuela is the cornerstone of the deep crisis that the country has been going through for decades. The situation experienced by the Venezuelan population has various causes, some of the most important of which are corruption - particularly the impunity it enjoys in Venezuela - and the violation of human rights. These are the two main issues addressed at the opening of the International Meeting on Corruption and Human Rights in Venezuela, organised by Transparencia Venezuela and held in Madrid.
Mercedes de Freitas, founder and executive director of Transparencia Venezuela, was in charge of presenting the event. And she did so in a clear and forceful manner, stating that "in Venezuela there is impunity for cases of corruption". The country, which is experiencing a "complex humanitarian emergency", according to the United Nations, is concerned about the destructuring of its country, aggravated by corruption that finds refuge in countries that are being asked to be more effective in their methods of fighting this scourge. In fact, "in addition to impunity in Venezuela, there is impunity abroad", said de Freitas, alluding to the concern that exists in his country in the face of the passivity of many countries in helping to clear up cases of Venezuelan corruption.
The meeting opened with a panel discussion entitled "The defence of human rights and the fight against corruption: contradictory or complementary", moderated by Katya Salazar, Director of the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF). This round table, which included the participation of María José Veramendi, lawyer, Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Officer at the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, and Feliciano Reyna, architect of Acción Solidaria, focused on the absence of information, one of the main problems in the corruption scheme, and the victims who suffer from it, who, as Veramendi explained, are often forgotten.
One of the key issues addressed is the fact that corruption is "a crime with direct victims", although on many occasions it is treated in an abstract way. Therefore, one of the objectives is to "ensure that anti-corruption policies are focused on human rights and the victims involved". However, there are numerous barriers that hinder efforts to shed light on cases: "The difficulty of access to public information makes up an attack on human rights", argued Feliciano Reyna, adding that it is a kind of circle in which "impunity perpetuates acts of corruption".
The second presentation, entitled "Justice at the service of impunity. When corruption violates human rights", dealt with some of the direct actions carried out by institutions to prevent transparency in judicial processes. On this occasion, the moderator was Mildred Rojas, from Transparencia Venezuela, who explained that "in Venezuela, in drug trafficking cases, judges and prosecutors receive direct indications from political factions". This is one of the fundamental problems, above all because of the complicity between the political and judicial authorities, whose network is difficult to break due to the opacity of the processes and the absence of information.
Jimena Reyes from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Marcos Gómez from Amnesty International Venezuela, and Francisco Cox from the Independent Fact Finding Mission in Venezuela, completed the second round table discussion. One of the messages launched at this one was that "crimes against humanity exist in Venezuela", a fact that has been proven after an in-depth study of the situation in the country, as analysed by Francisco Cox. He also commented that, throughout this work, they found evidence that proves that "many prosecutors and judges say that it is easy to determine the results according to the economic and political power of the parties involved".
Another of the points analysed was the relationship between the low salaries of judicial officials and corruption. According to Cox, the low remuneration of judges is related to corruption, "it creates incentives to accept bribes and corrupts the system". Thus, there are many pillars underpinning the web of corruption in the country, deepening the crisis that Venezuela is going through and condemning a system that is currently impossible to trust. It is in an attempt to reverse this situation that Transparencia Venezuela is working to clean up the Venezuelan organisation and protect the human rights of society, which are currently being systematically violated.
Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra