ITUC/TUCA Statement on Venezuela

The ITUC and its Regional Organisation the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) have once again expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Venezuela, where dangerous confrontation is resulting in an increasingly high loss of life, injuries, arrests, destruction of infrastructure and other damages to the country and its population.

In the last three months, we have witnessed a situation of increasing political violence, and the crisis that the country is facing is becoming ever more serious. With approximately 100 people dead as a result of various incidences of violence (including shootings, people being burnt alive, having their throats slit, lootings, barricades), lives have been lost among both government and opposition supporters, but in most cases, among those who have no involvement with the protests or the political conflict that the country has been dragged into. For the most part, the victims are young people, workers and students, civil servants and members of the state security forces. The perpetrators of the violence are the state security forces – the police and the Bolivarian National Guard – and armed groups of civilians linked to the government opposition. We need to establish the circumstances in which these incidents occurred and the legal and criminal responsibilities of the cases. These deaths should not be used to send a political message.

TUCA General Secretary Victor Baez said “We condemn the use of any form of violence to resolve political differences within a democratic regime. The State of Venezuela has an obligation to its citizens, to guarantee their civil and political rights, their right to life and to their right to peaceful protest. Equally, the representatives of the political opposition should exercise their democratic rights responsibly, stop encouraging unconstitutional actions to achieve their objectives and explicitly condemn the use of violence. No truly democratic political project can be legitimised if it is imposed through violence.”

The Venezuelan government and state institutions must take action to control the violence, wherever this originates, in order to protect its citizens and the country’s public service infrastructure. It is the State’s duty to identify and punish those security officials implicated in these incidents that are in violation of human rights. The civilians instigating violence that have resulted in deaths, injuries and destruction of public and private infrastructure must also be held accountable for their crimes.

The majority of the Venezuelan people – workers, men and women of different ideologies –demand that those in the political sphere, both from the government and the opposition, act democratically and call for the discourse of hate and violence to cease, in order to maintain and strengthen democracy and its institutions. It will only be possible to confront the population’s social and economic needs, and its serious problems, if all sectors of society – public and private, government and opposition – are prepared to contribute to achieving peace and stability in the country.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said “The international trade union movement, represented by the ITUC and the TUCA, demands an end to the political crisis in Venezuela. It demands commitment to a real dialogue between the government and the democratic opposition, a guarantee of respect towards political adversaries and recognition of the negotiation required between the different sides to find a much-needed solution for the country. This process should be conducted between the citizens of Venezuela (both men and women) and their social and political institutions and organisations, including trade unions, in accordance with the constitution and the laws currently in force.”

The international community and institutions at both the regional and global levels have a duty to support this process in Venezuela without interference or conditions that might prejudice national unity and peace among its inhabitants. The international trade union movement is committed to ending the confrontation and reinstating the social and political dynamics in a peaceful environment. This is what the Venezuelan people deserve and what the international community hopes for.