Thousands of people have flocked to the streets in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to protest against a recent United Nations report on the country’s human rights situation.
The mass rally, held in defense of the government of President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday, came after the UN high commissioner of human rights, Michelle Bachelet, published a report on the state of human rights in the Latin American country.
The report accused Venezuelan security forces of extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances and other rights violations in recent years.
Maduro’s supporters in Caracas, holding banners and chanting slogans against Bachelet, rejected her report as biased, manipulated and pro-imperialist.
The protesters also said the UN official had betrayed Venezuelans and other Latin American people by issuing such a report.
Last month, Bachelet visited Venezuela and met with Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido before the release of the report.
The report claims that Maduro’s government and its affiliated institutions have set in place a strategy “focused on neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing the political opposition and those who criticize the government” since 2016.
Maduro has slammed the latest UN report on his country’s human rights situation as full of “lies”. Bachelet, he said, “presented a report plagued by false statements, misrepresentations and mishandling of data and sources.”
The Venezuelan president also dismissed the UN document as “just another report” dictated by the US State Department, noting that it was drafted by people who were enemies of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution.
Rights groups claim some 700 people, including about 100 members of the military, are detained in Venezuela for political reasons. The government denies it has put anyone behind bars for such causes.
Venezuela plunged into political crisis in January, when Guaido abruptly proclaimed himself “interim president.” The elected government of Maduro has rejected the self-proclamation, but it has been negotiating with Guaido’s representatives to resolve the political crisis in the country.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has levied several rounds of sanctions against Venezuela to oust Maduro and replace him with Guaido.
Washington has confiscated Venezuela’s state oil assets based in the US to channel them to Guaido.
Guaido orchestrated a failed coup against the government on April 30 with backing from Washington. Maduro’s government, however, has not proceeded to arrest Guaido despite the coup attempt.