The situation in Venezuela is deteriorating: a peaceful demonstration in the capital, Caracas, on 12 February was followed by violent clashes. Three people were killed, dozens injured and many arrested. The EU High Representative called on the Venezuelan Government to allow peaceful demonstrations.
The demonstrations taking place across the country are in protest at increasing violence and restrictions on civil rights. Demonstrators are also demanding the release of detained students. Journalists are protesting at the lack of paper and calling for greater freedom of the press. What were initially peaceful demonstrations on 12 February later escalated into violence, killing three people. Both Venezuelan and foreign media representatives were prevented, in some cases with violence, from reporting on events. The Government and opposition each accuse the other side of being responsible for this escalation.
Last Friday (14 February), President Nicolas Maduro presented a tenpoint plan to try and quell the unrest. On Tuesday (18 February) the situation in Caracas remained peaceful despite numerous large demonstrations; elsewhere however there was serious violence. The opposition politician Leopoldo López, for whom an arrest warrant was issued following the riots last Wednesday, handed himself over to the police. He had previously told his supporters that he had “nothing to hide” and that he was not afraid of being in custody.
EU High Representative’s appeal
In a Statement by the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the recent incidents in Venezuela, 14 February 2014 PDF / 574 KB , EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said that freedom of expression and the right to participate in peaceful demonstrations were essential and called upon the authorities to reach out to all segments of Venezuelan society. Freedom of opinion and of the press were essential fundamental rights and representatives of all parties and sections of society should “maintain calm in both actions and words”. The EU Partners fully support Ashton’s appeal.
The German Federal Government is concerned about the tense and confrontational situation in Venezuela. It has been greatly saddened to receive reports of deaths and injuries caused by the clashes. The Federal Government calls on all those involved to eschew violence and exercise moderation. Respecting the right to demonstrate and not criminalising demonstrations form part of this.
Travel advice for tourists
The Federal Foreign Office is reviewing its travel advice for Venezuela on a regular basis. At present tourists are being advised to keep away from protests and crowds.