Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado addresses the 7th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks.
I am Maria Corina Machado of the National Assembly. My country is living through the bleakest and most critical moment in its history and for that of future generations. We have had a coup d’état, carried out by the state. Mr. Maduro and his regime have shown that this militarist dictatorship has links with a criminal underworld and with international drug networks. They have no scruples in the way they are trying to subdue and repress our people.
In the past few hours repression has been stepped up as well as persecution, censorhip and torture. Students, journalists, tweeters, trade unionists, and businessmen have been taken prisoner without any arrest warrants issued and without having committed any offense. In the past few hours, the Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, has been arrested. He was abducted from his office without an arrest warrant and sent to the Ramo Verde military prison, where national leader Leopoldo López has been detained for the past year. Antonio Ledezma, Leopoldo Lopez and I have been accused of promoting and breaking [the] constitutional order for having called a national meeting to achieve reconciliation with all Venezuelans and to rebuild the country during our next step towards a peaceful transition to democracy within a constitutional framework. I want to say to you, Mr. Maduro, that I support everyone of the ideas, words, spirit, and values of the National Transition Agreement that we invite all Venezuelans to endorse.
I have been physically attacked. My nose was broken in the National Assembly under the eyes of Mr. Cabello, President of the National Assembly. I have accused of terrorism, of betraying my country, because I denounce Venezuelans’ human rights violations to the Organization of American States. I have been accused of assassination and conspiracy. My family and I have been attacked and even the lives of my children have been threatened. For the past year, I have been prohibited from leaving my country, from carrying a message about how we Venezuelans are determined to fight until we achieve democracy and freedom.
Democratic governments of the world for many years have turned their backs on us. Perhaps for economic or geopolitical reasons. But, Mr. Maduro has crossed a red line and now the world knows he massively and systematically is violating human rights, the Venezuelan constitution, and international agreements. And for this reason I’d like to say to all democracy lovers in the world that we need you to speak up, to speak out, to stand beside the people of Venezuela. We hope the world will take a firm stand now to support our fight for democracy in Venezuela and reject the dictatorship now governing our country. We in Venezuela will carry out our task and we will achieve a peaceful transition to democracy and freedom soon.
Have confidence in us. We are confident you will show your solidarity with us.