Women’s Rights in Venezuela TodayIn Venezuela, women have always needed to fight for their rights. However, now more than ever women need much more support. In the constitution developed in 1999, all citizens regardless of gender have social, political and economic rights. The 2007 law reform Organic Law of the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence, women are more often in disadvantaged positions than men. Women’s rights in Venezuela have been neglected and much-parodied by a government that calls itself “feminist.”

Women’s Rights in the Past

The first years of Chavez’s government saw the development and reinforcement of programs that enhanced women’s rights. For example, they implemented the Women’s Bank (which has ceased to exist) and the Women and Gender Equality Ministry. The 2007 Organic Law of the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence was considered groundbreaking. It is internationally recognized as “one of the most progressive in the world,” as it broadened the definition of domestic violence. However, this is as far as the government has gotten into reinforcing women’s rights in Venezuela.

Women’s Right in the Present Day

Today there’s a persistent gender gap in Venezuela. A 2016 report from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean indicates that around 54% more women between the ages of 20 and 59 are not actively in the workforce. Instead, there are more women now who have become head of households than in 1990, 39% in 2011 versus 24% back then. Since women have fewer opportunities in the workforce due to their lack of experience, women in Venezuela are often staying at home. In addition, the worsening healthcare system plus the great shortage of contraceptives, which have fallen around 90% since 2015, only strengthen women to remain in their “traditional roles as mothers and caretakers.”

Issues that Affects Women in Venezuela

Indeed, Venezuela is the country with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also sees a rise in HIV and other STDS cases due to the lack of contraceptives. There is also a great shortage of menstrual products, which has made a huge impact on the lives of women and girls, often becoming an impediment for them to go to school or work. Moreover, the maternal mortality rate has sparked over these few years, with a rate of 66%. As a result, this led many women to seek out better healthcare in other foreign countries like Colombia, in which 26,000 women gave birth to their babies since 2015. There are supports and efforts from UNFPA and local organizations and the promises made by the government. However, there have not been any other options but for women to migrate to other territories.

International Aids

UNFPA along with UNICEF and PAHO has delivered 90 tonnes of health, water, hygiene and sanitation and education supplies to Venezuela earlier in April. Indeed, these supplies were vital for vulnerable women and families in Venezuela. There is also support from organizations such as the UN Population Fund. The UN Population Fund imported thousands of contraceptives to fight the shortage and supply the market. However, there is still much to be done.

What To Do

Today there are only 32 women out of 167 representatives in the assembly. Increasing representation of women in politics is one way for women’s rights to become more accessible for them. Women’s participation in politics can benefit innumerable ways in the country. For instance, ending the gender gap and increasing women’s physical security. Gender-based violence is another problem in the Caribbean country. Indeed, only this year there have been 157 women who died at the hands of physical violence, according to a report of Uthopix’s Monitor de Femicidios. Complaints often go unreported, and the ones that aren’t do not always go to trial. By including more women in political positions there will be a better chance for women’s rights to be assessed adequately.

Alannys Milano

Photo: Flickr

venezuelan government
Dressed in traditional red, the color of socialism, President Nicolas Maduro stood in front of the Venezuelan congress and announced the late president Hugo Chavez the “eternal leader” of Venezuela.

Maduro’s ability to capture and maintain control kept the third meeting of congress moving forward, which was impressive considering this was the first meeting without Chavez leading the way.

In recent months, Maduro has faced criticism from Marxists that believe his socialist regime is feeble in comparison to Chavez’s. Supporting criticisms is the fact that Venezuela has the, “highest inflation rate in the continent at 62 percent in the 12 months to June,” according to Reuters.

This inflation rate has caused price distortions and, while it benefits those in the black market, civilians are struggling financially. Cuts in water and energy have Venezuelans up in arms as their needs continue to be ignored. These daily strifes add to the claims that Maduro has failed his nation in improving living standards.

This tension is visible within the government, with parties openly stating their dissent. Jorge Giordani, former planning minister and a close adviser to Chavez, wrote in an open letter address to Maduro that the he “fails to transmit leadership,” which creates “a power vacuum situation” and “clears the way for the reinstatement of financial mechanisms” in Venezuela, as reported by the Buenos Aires Herald.

Throughout the nation, many are waiting to see improvements in daily life. As a former bus driver, Maduro has expansive shoes to fill following Chavez, who served the country prosperously.

The harsh opinions of Maduro led him to address prevalent issues in Venezuela and dispel thoughts that he is not taking any actions to improve conditions at the six-day national congress. Maduro managed to dim the flame and unite everyone to continue stabilizing the Venezuelan government, such as by agreeing on an inflation rate.

Anger continues to build as Venezuelans wait to see improvements and there is a high possibility of a revolt if actions are not taken to eradicate the increasing level of poverty.

Elena Lopez

Sources: Reuters, Stabroek News Buenos Aires Herald
Photo: CNN

On Thursday, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 in the Senate along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-F.L.). The bill is a response to the escalating violence from the government crackdown on protesters that began one month ago and aims to aid the Venezuelan opposition.

The bill proposes sanctions against persons responsible for the violence in Venezuela, including asset blocking and visa revocation. The bill also proposes appropriating $15 million for building a strong and vibrant civil society in Venezuela through supporting nongovernmental organizations and activists that promote democratic governance. The bill supports independent media organizations in disseminating viewpoints contrary to what the Venezuelan government has made available.

Recent remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the protests in Venezuela have stoked a quarrel between Kerry and the foreign minister of Venezuela, Elias Jaua.

Kerry likened the Venezuelan government’s brutal tactics against protesters to a “terror campaign” at a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing, saying, “We are trying to find a way to get the Maduro government to engage with their citizens, to treat them respectfully, to end this terror campaign against his own people and to begin to, hopefully, respect human rights in an appropriate way.”

Jaua responded by criticizing Kerry as a “murderer” who encourages violence through his remarks.

The protests in Venezuela began in early February as protesters took to the streets to demand government action against rampant inflation, corruption, the scarcity of basic goods, and a rising murder rate. The death toll from the protests currently stands at 28, according to Venezuelan State Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz. Although many protesters claim they will not stop protesting until their demands are met, the Maduro government has done nothing to appease them, even going so far as to declare its success over fighting against “right-wing fascists” who attempted to topple the administration.

–Jeff Meyer

Photo: The Week
Reuters, The Hill, The Hill

venezuelan government
After weeks of Venezuelan protests in February, U.S. Senators are calling for sanctions to be placed upon Venezuelan government officials for their violent responses to the peaceful protests.

A Senate resolution proposing investigations and sanctions placed upon human rights violators in Venezuela was introduced in the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 27. Chairman Robert Menendez and Senator Marco Rubio were instrumental addressing the situation in Venezuela as they assert, “The (U.S.) should condemn Venezuela’s government for violently suppressing protests, and it should slap individual sanctions on mid and top-level officials associated with the regime in Caracas.”

The resolution also urges U.S. President Barack Obama to impose individual sanctions on government officials by denying or revoking visas, freezing their American assets and encouraging a process of dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition. The protests in Venezuela stand eerily similar to those in Ukraine and the United States government has responded similarly in both cases, which is to support peaceful resolutions and government accountability.

So far, the youth population and students have made up a substantial amount of protesters and have employed peaceful tactics to air their grievances against the Venezuelan government. Much of their unrest stems from poor economic policies that have resulted in “inflation that exceeds 50% annually, currency shortages, economic distortions, and the routine absence basic goods and foodstuffs.”

After two weeks of widespread protest, clashes between government and opposition forces have resulted in 14 deaths. In an effort to dissipate the movement, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro granted a six-day holiday to the people of Venezuela. Regardless, the protests have continued with several thousand demonstrators marching in Caracas on February 27. The National Guard responded to the protests in Caracas by implementing tear gas and water cannons to break up the march.

The situation in Venezuela has been riddled with human rights violations—as asserted by the international community—where people have been deprived of basic political rights and individual freedoms. In addition to resorting to violence to break up protests, the Venezuelan government has tried to censor media outlets covering the demonstrations. Thus far, Maduro has threatened to expel U.S. news correspondents from CNN, blocked online images of protests and censored domestic media outlets.

The resolution proposed by Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio aims to put an end to human rights violations and allow for the Venezuelan people to retain their individual liberties in living free and democratically.

Jugal Patel

Sources: Buenos Aires Herald, Latin American Herald Tribune, Bloomberg
Photo: International Business Times