Former UN special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas slams UN High Commissioner Bachelet’s report on Venezuela as a politicized collection of baseless accusations by “advocates of regime change”
When United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet traveled to Venezuela earlier this year, she met with an array of citizens who lost family members to right-wing violence in the country.
Among them was Inés Esparragoza, whose 20-year-old son, Orlando Figuera, was doused with gasoline and lit on fire by an opposition mob during violent anti-government riots, known as guarimbas, in May 2017.
“He was stabbed, beaten and cruelly burnt alive,” Esparragoza declared before Bachelet in March. “Simply because of the color of his shirt, the color of his skin, and because he said he was Chavista.”
While Esparragoza poured her family’s torment out before the former Chilean president, Bachelet scribbled notes and glanced down at horrific photos which captured the moment masked men attacked Figuera. As the young man knelt to the ground, a gang of anti-government thugs poured petrol over his body before lighting a match.
“I call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to make justice,” she said. “These are not peaceful protesters, they are bloodthirsty.”
Yet shockingly, when Bachelet released her long-anticipated report on the situation in Venezuela on July 5, it was as though that meeting never took place.
Apparently unmoved by the testimony of Figuera’s grieving mother, or anyone else’s story of injury and suffering, Bachelet made no mention of opposition violence in her report. Her failure to properly detail the plight of Venezuelans who have suffered at the hands of anti-government rioters was just one of many glaring omissions which has one of the top international legal experts to have served at the UN calling the high commissioner’s objectivity into question.
Alfred de Zayas became the first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years, traveling to the country in 2017 to examine the social and economic impact of unilateral coercive measures applied by the US. He determined US-led sanctions were largely to blame for the country’s hardship, accusing Washington of waging “economic warfare,” and comparing its harsh measures to “medieval sieges of towns.”
De Zayas was no less scathing towards Bachelet’s report,