Venezuela in Crisis: The Decline of Democracy and the Repression of Human Rights

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 18:00to19:30
Chancellor Day Hall Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (NCDH 100), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

This event will be webcast at bcooltv.mcgill.ca/Viewer/?EventID=201501124312

See our map on how to get to the Faculty of Law [.pdf]

In the 1970s and 80s, when the majority of Latin American countries were ruled by military dictatorships, Venezuela was a democracy under civilian rule. Less than fifty years later, the country is undergoing one of the most serious political and economic crises of its time: an inflation rate at over 60%, a shortage of basic food and supplies, and a murder rate that has turned Venezuela into one of the most violent countries in the world. In early 2014, these factors, among others, provoked an eruption of demonstrations across Venezuela.

In an attempt to end the protests, the government responded forcefully leaving more than 40 people dead, 3000 detained, and dozens imprisoned. Among those arrested was Leopoldo López, a prominent leader of the Venezuelan opposition, who has been placed under solitary confinement in a military prison. Several key politicians, NGOs, and even the United Nations have called for Leopoldo López’s release, yet the Venezuelan government has taken no action. Leopoldo López remains in prison without a due process.

This conference will present two key witnesses of state repression in Venezuela: Carlos Vecchio, a Venezuelan lawyer, political exile and the main ally of Leopoldo López, and Diana López, Director of “Accion por la Libertad”, an initiative in defense of Human rights in Venezuela and sister of Leopoldo Lopez. They will discuss the grassroots causes of the protests and will share their stories.  They will be joined by Professor emeritus and former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Liberal Party critic for Rights & Freedoms and International Justice, and Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights.

Many voices will be needed to reverse the decline of democracy in Venezuela and end the human rights’ abuses. Please join us for this important event, which will be moderated by Professor René Provost.

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