In early June, following the presentations of human rights NGOs and the Venezuelan Government before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, government officials, including President Nicolás Maduro and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, attacked the NGOs accusing them of being under the pay of the “Empire” and of conspiring to destabilize the country.
In June 29 and 30, Venezuela came up for its periodic revision by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations. The head the Venezuelan government delegation, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, in her presentation assured that the NGOs and independent human right activists who had given information to the Committee, would suffer no retaliations from the Venezuelan government.
The next day however, Diosdado Cabello in his public television show “Con el Mazo Dando,” again repeated claims that the human rights NGOs conspire against the government “and defend obscure interests.”
Cabello said during his show:
“On December 4, 2014, Alfredo Romero, Feliciano Reyna, and Rafael Uzcátegui, put together a workshop at the Hotel Garden Suite on how to present human rights cases to international organizations. The workshop was directed by Ben Leather and Eleanor Openshaw, representatives of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), which counts as one of its members that Colombian Lawyer Gustavo Gallón Girardo, a close friend of William Brownfield, who has served as US ambassador in Colombia, Venezuela and Chile. This is where the attacks are coming from…”
“…Among those present [in the June session of the Human Rights Committee in Geneva], were members of human rights NGOs. Several among them are protagonists of conspiracies and defend obscure interests behind the façade [of the NGOs]. They are: Carlos Correa (Espacio Público), Alfredo Romero and Tamara Sujú (Foro Penal Venezolano), Ligia Bolívar (Foro por la Vida), Rocio San Miguel (Control Ciudadano, a fake NGO [ONG de maletín]), Humberto Prado (Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones), and Feliciano Reyna (Codevida, and Sinergia), among others.”
Marino Alvardo, of PROVEA, responded to the accusations: “A democratic government regards the participation of civil society as a positive thing, it even stimulates it. Unfortunately the government of President Nicolás Maduro thinks the participation of civil society is part of an international conspiracy against Venezuela. Human rights activists are disqualified and in some instances are persecuted when they try to contribute to the debate over the situation of human rights in the country.”