Inside the Human Rights Crisis in Venezuela | NowThis

It was a massacre of innocent Indigenous people from one of the world’s most repressive regimes, and you almost definitely didn’t hear about it. On February 22 in 2019, at least 50 soldiers with the Venezuelan military approached the community of Kumarakapay on the Venezuela-Brazil border, where many Indigenous people live. Without warning, the soldiers soon opened fire on unarmed men and women. Venezuelan armed forces violently repress any aid from entering the country and punish those who protest. Most ports of entry have been blocked by the Venezuelan government. Nicholás Maduro’s authoritarian regime has destroyed all democratic institutions in Venezuela. Foro Penal, an NGO in the country that works against arbitrary detentions and in favor of human rights has registered more than 15,000 politically motivated arrest since 2014. They’re working alongside Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, an organization that has also been working in the region, and drawing attention to the abuses that have occurred in the crisis in Venezuela. People there are suffering from malnutrition and lack of medical attention in what was once the richest country in South America. Nearly four million have fled to neighboring countries. When members of the international community announced that they would bring food and medical supplies to desperate communities, Maduro sent the military to block the aid. One of communities near the border was the
Kumarakapy, a peaceful village of ethnic Pemón Indigenous people. On February 22, I saw the military approaching. They knew that we came in peace, but they were all
pointing their guns at us and all 50 officials started shooting. When I tried to run, they shot me in the
leg. We had never seen anything like that before. We are making a call to all, Indigenous
people and non-Indigenous, to join together to avoid more murders like the massacre
that happened this morning in Kumarakapay. On February 23, more attacks were made against the population in the nearby town of Santa Elena de Uairén. A total of 7 civilians were killed, 57 were wounded, and 62 were arrested. A violent repression alongside the border of Brazil has forced over 900 Indigenous people across the border. This is the latest in a long history of government oppression, neglect, and brutality in Venezuela. On March 31, Kerry Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights led a joint delegation with Foro Penal to the border between Brazil and Venezuela. During the visit, the delegation interviewed survivors of the Kumarakapay and Santa Elena massacres. We are labeled as a community that are opponents of the government for speaking the truth. Now, with how things are, people are unable to leave the community for another place. They are permanently in Kumarakapay. Currently, none of the soldiers are facing any criminal charges or disciplinary action. Kumarakapay, Santa Elena, and other
communities along the border continue to be militarized, and the survivors fear returning home.

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