Venezuelan Government Detains Key Opposition Figure

Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
February 20, 2015

The United States condemns the detention of Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma by Venezuelan security forces, as well as the systematic intimidation of other leading opposition figures. These actions appear to be a clear attempt by the Venezuelan government to divert attention from the country’s economic and political challenges. Rather than imprisoning and intimidating its critics, the Venezuelan government should focus on finding real solutions through democratic dialogue.

Venezuela’s problems cannot be solved by criminalizing legitimate, democratic dissent. These tactics violate the Venezuelan people’s basic human rights and civil liberties and flout the principles and values set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The Venezuelan government should release those it has unjustly jailed and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. The United States calls on other countries, leaders, and organizations to urge the Venezuelan government to cease these efforts to silence the political opposition and further weaken democratic institutions.