Parliament will debate the Venezuelan situation on Tuesday 5 September. Ensure that MPs have all the information they need to make the right decision about Venezuela. Send the following email with the subject line “Support targeted sanctions against Venezuelan officials” to your MP:
On 5 September 2017, there will be a debate at Westminster Hall to discuss the political situation in Venezuela, moved by Graham P Jones, MP for Hyndburn. I trust that you will take part in this session, and that you will support the UK government in taking specific actions in defence of human rights and democracy in Venezuela.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has accused the Venezuelan regime of “widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions against demonstrators”, and reported that security forces and pro-government armed groups were responsible for 73 deaths during recent protests.
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, has certified that there are 620 political prisoners in Venezuela. Independent human rights organisation Foro Penal Venezolano reported over 4,000 people injured and 5,000 arrested in four months of protests.
The European Union refused to recognise the results of the 30 July election, which led to the establishment of an illegitimate Constituent Assembly that summarily, and illegally, fired the state attorney, a former ally of Hugo Chávez that had been investigating corruption and human rights violations. UK-based technology company Smartmatic, which ran the election, admitted that the results were tampered with.
The UK government has stated that “urgent action must be taken to stop the situation getting worse”. Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said that “if the United Nations were to apply sanctions, we would be part of that.” But the UN is not expected to approve any sanctions. China and Russia continue to do business with Venezuela and it is likely they will veto any resolution against the regime.
It is up to the UK and other countries to take the initiative. Parliament can help by approving targeted sanctions against Venezuelan government officials. These are not economic sanctions that will further starve the country, but individual measures that will put pressure on President Nicolás Maduro and his allies.
Venezuela is a kleptocracy. The regime is sustained by a web of alliances and corrupt business dealings that have seen over 350 billion US dollars disappear from state coffers. As government and military officials find their assets and their access to first-world markets at risk, their loyalty to Maduro will waiver. Therefore, the following actions would have a direct impact on the Venezuelan situation:
1. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office must approve financial sanctions against top officials in the Venezuelan government and armed forces, and against all members of the Constituent Assembly.
2. HM Treasury must freeze any assets in the UK belonging to any of these individuals, and prevent UK-based individuals and companies from engaging in business with them.
3. The UK Border Agency must enact and enforce a travel ban against these individuals.
4. The Export Control Organisation at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills must enact and enforce a ban on exporting weapons or any equipment that might be used for internal repression in Venezuela.
These targeted sanctions should remain in place until the Venezuelan government allows free elections and a peaceful transition of power.
Please encourage your colleagues at Parliament to act now to save lives and help restore democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights in Venezuela.
If you wish to download an information sheet about the human rights crisis in Venezuela, you can do it from http://justice4venezuela.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Venezuela_fact_sheet.pdf.
Copy your postcode into this website to find out who your MP is and to get their contact details. Remember to add your full home address at the bottom of the letter.
See here other ways in which you can put pressure on the government of Venezuela.