Both the political and economical situation in Venezuela has taken a dramatic turn for the worse since the death of the president Hugo Chávez. The new government of the current President Maduro does not promise any positive outlook for the future. There are political prisoners in the country, a majority of inhabitants lives in unbearable conditions of hunger and poverty. People demonstrate in the streets and many have emigrated.
The opposition has been oppressed by the regime and there are more than 100 political prisoners in the country. Amongst them there is also the head of the strongest opposition party Leopoldo López, who was sentenced for 14 years in manipulated process during which revealed the complete dependency of the judiciary on the government.
Supporting civil society
Space for organisation of civil society activities is getting smaller and scores of capable people perceive emigration as the only option they have.
People in Need has been operating in Venezuela since 2014 and has been trying to motivate active people in society to remain in the country and continue in their work despite the difficult conditions. We provide small grants to a number of organisations and individuals to support their activities. The focus of the projects varies from support of activists operating in deprived areas to support of lawyers defending imprisoned activists.
For instance, we awarded a mini grant to support the idea that the walls in Venezuela should stop serving exclusively for political propaganda:
The dictatorship regime of Presidents Chávez and Maduro has attempted intensively to manipulate the inhabitants of disadvantaged districts of Venezuelan towns and win their votes in the election. The walls in the towns have been often used for this purpose and therefore are covered in the portraits of the two presidents and the slogans of pro-government propaganda. An organisation supported by the People in Need is uniting young people from surrounding areas who then agree on a better theme for the walls. The walls are then painted over with more positive themes promoting other values like sport, family, health, and so on.
We help Venezuelan organisations and activists to organise advocacy trips around Europe and we assist them during the attendance of the international forum. We organised a meeting between Venezuelan activists and prominent figures from the EU and supported their attendance at UN negotiations in Geneva.
The guests from Venezuela regularly attend the One World human rights documentary festival which is held annually in Prague and Brussels.