I want to add my voice to a chorus of concern that resonates in a large portion of our America.
Thousands of students and opponents to the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela were savagely attacked by security forces with firearms.
In any truly democratic country no one goes to prison or is killed due to his or her ideas being different or due to public displays of dissent against governmental actions. Venezuela can make as many oratory efforts as it desires to try to sell the idea that it is a true democracy, but every violation of human rights carried out denies that affirmation in actuality, since criticism and dissent are being repressed.
Any government that respects human rights must also respect the right of its people to non-violent demonstrations. Resorting to violence is unacceptable. Let’s remember Gandhi’s warning: “An eye for and eye and everyone will go blind”.
I have always fought for democracy and I am convinced that in a democracy, if one does not have an opposition then it must be created, not repress it and condemn it to brutal persecution, which is what the government of President Maduro seems to be doing.
Venezuela must respect human rights, especially the rights of the opponents, because there is no merit in only respecting the rights of supporters.
At some point in his life Martin Luther King Jr. said that “… the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintained their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal”.
Therefore, I am aware that by making these statements I’m exposing myself to all sorts of criticism from the Venezuelan government. I will be accused of intruding in internal affairs, disrespecting sovereignty and with almost certainly of being a servant of the empire.
Surely I am a servant of the empire: the empire of reason, sanity, compassion and freedom. I will not be silent when human rights are violated.
I will not keep silent when the very existence of a government like the one in Venezuela is an insult to democracy. I will not keep quiet when there is a threat to the life of human beings who are defending their rights. I have lived long enough to know that there is nothing worse than being afraid to tell the truth.
Oscar Arias Sánchez
Óscar Arias is a former President of Costa Rica and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.
Original source: Venezuela: Infierno de persecución (El País)
Translation by #InfoVnzla