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Intimidation and threats against Violeta Santiago

Status: 
Threatened
About the situation

On 15 July 2019, a member of the armed forces of Venezuela threatened and intimidated journalist and woman human rights defender Violeta Santiago, while she was documenting the lack of fuel in the city of Mérida.

About Violeta Santiago

Violeta Santiago - VenezuelaVioleta Santiago is a woman human rights defender and correspondent for the national newspaper "El Pitazo". She is known for conducting research about democracy, politics, and denouncing human rights violations in Venezuela. She is also a member of Promotion, Education and Defence of Human Rights - PROMEDEHUM (Promoción, Educación y Defensa en Derechos Humanos – PROMEDEHUM), an organisation focused on providing workshops and lectures to civil society on a number of issues related to the use of lawful and peaceful means to denounce human rights violations, mainly in Mérida.

23 July 2019
Intimidation and threats against journalist and WHRD Violeta Santiago

On 15 July 2019, journalist and woman human rights defender Violeta Santiago received threats and intimidation from a member of the armed forces of Venezuela when she was documenting the lack of fuel in the city of Mérida.

Violeta Santiago is a woman human rights defender and correspondent for the national newspaper "El Pitazo". She is known for conducting research about democracy, politics, and denouncing human rights violations in Venezuela. She is also a member of Promotion, Education and Defence of Human Rights - PROMEDEHUM (Promoción, Educación y Defensa en Derechos Humanos – PROMEDEHUM), an organisation focused on providing workshops and lectures to civil society on a number of issues related to the use of lawful and peaceful means to denounce human rights violations, mainly in Mérida.

In the afternoon of 15 July 2019, Violeta Santiago and another journalist went to the “Urdaneta” gas station in order to take pictures and document the shortage of fuel and the long waiting lines that the shortage has generated for months in the city of Mérida. When they arrived, they were approached by a member of the Guardia Nacional Bolivariana, a branch of the armed forces in Venezuela, who shouted at them. For this reason, they decided to move their vehicle and approach the guard in order to identify themselves as journalists. The guard then yelled at them again, telling them in a provocative way to “publish their news and denounce him”. Later on, when they decided to leave the station, the same guard followed them, took pictures of their car and threatened them by saying “Let’s see who is the bravest, you or me”.

This is not the first time that Violeta Santiago receives threats while documenting the current political context in Venezuela. In October 2018, she was followed and intimidated by another member of the armed forces, who told her that he knew who she was, when she was documenting a pacific protest in the University Los Andes, in Mérida. Front Line Defenders is concerned that the pictures taken of her car may be used for threats and attacks against her in the future.

Front Line Defenders remains concerned about the pattern of attacks and intimidation against members of the independent media in Venezuela, who have been repeatedly threatened because of their work documenting and reporting about the current political and economic crisis. Furthermore, these attacks seem to be part of a broader trend limiting freedom of expression and opinion in Venezuela and thereby denying citizens their right to be informed. The direct involvement of state officials in these attacks is particularly worrying, as this generates an adverse and possibly more dangerous climate for journalists and human rights defenders.