On 23 January 2019, Mr. Juan Gerardo Guaidó, deputy of Venezuela’s National Assembly (in contempt since 2016), proclaimed himself to be and swore himself in as “Interim President” of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the context of a public demonstration, without having participated in any presidential election and without any legal basis. This was an anti-democratic act that violates the most fundamental principles of the rule of law, contravenes the Venezuelan Constitution and, fundamentally, violates the sovereign decision of the Venezuelan people who, on 20 May 2018, expressed their will at the polls. In a transparent and competitive electoral process, 9.389,056 people democratically exercised their right to vote and President Nicolás Maduro Moros won by a wide margin, reaching 6,248,864 valid votes, representing 67.84% of the total votes cast.

A group of States led by the United States of America arbitrarily and illegally recognized Mr. Guaidó as “interim president”, as well as accepting the irrational designation of alleged ambassadors and diplomats to those States. This has been carried out in frank violation of public international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the international treaties that regulate these matters. But perhaps most seriously, a group of States, in open and public violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations proceeded to evict the officials legally designated by President Nicolas Maduro as ambassadors and consuls from the diplomatic headquarters of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela abroad.

Since January 2019, Mr. Guaidó has made public appeals and addressed communications to the U.S. Government, requesting not only “humanitarian intervention” in the country but also a military intervention in order to overthrow the president who was constitutionally elected by the majority of Venezuelans.

Within the framework of these events, on Tuesday, 30 April 2019, an attempted coup d’état was executed in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela against the government of President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

On that date, Mr. Guaidó, together with Mr. Leopoldo López and Mr. Edgar Zambrano, also a member of the National Assembly, appeared publicly in the media directing an igroup of armed soldiers with military weaponry ordering the cessation of the functions of President Nicolás Maduro Moros and his replacement by Mr. Guaidó. They also called on Venezuelan society to come out to demonstrate and support their actions. All of these events occurred in an area adjacent to a military base located in the capital city of Caracas and were broadcast through private and public media agencies, both inside and outside Venezuela.

A fact of great relevance is that this attempted coup d’état in Venezuela was immediately supported by high officials of the government of the United States of America through mainstream media and social networks. This comes in addition to the continuing military threats made by U.S. officials since 18 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued the Executive Order declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security.”

Fortunately, the great majority of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces and the Venezuelan people rejected the coup d’état and refused to participate in the calls made by Juan Guaidó, Edgar Zambrano and Leopoldo López. So the day culminated in a focused public demonstration in a small area of the city of Caracas, with targeted violent events. However, five people died as a result of the coup attempt, including two teenagers who participated in the events and two soldiers who participated in containing the acts of political violence.

U.S. military threats against Venezuela have not ceased. Recently, Mr. Juan Guaidó reported that his representative and alleged ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Carlos Vecchio, has confirmed that he will hold a meeting during the month of May with the Head of the Southern Command, to address issues of cooperation and military intervention to forcefully impose the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro, attempting to achieve what was impossible through the attempted military coup.

Faced with these facts, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers:

  1. Expresses its deepest rejection of the 30 April attempted coup d’état as well as any other attempt to forcibly overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro Moros, who was legitimately and legally elected for the constitutional period from 2019 to 2025, as a very serious violation of democracy and human rights.
  2. Demands that those responsible for these acts be held accountable through the political, civil, disciplinary and penal mechanisms.
  3. Urges all States not to recognize as “interim president” Mr. Juan Guaidó. He was not elected by the people of Venezuela to hold that office, nor is there any legal basis that justifies his “self-proclamation” and “self-investiture” to exercise it. Furthermore, the IADL urges that the persons designated by him should not be recognized as diplomatic representatives and notes that any such recognition comes in contravention of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
  4. Demands the immediate cessation of acts of violence and violations of international law by the States that have arbitrarily and illegally appropriated the diplomatic properties of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, including embassies and consulates.
  5. Expressly calls upon the U.S. government to stop its threats of the use of force and asks the international community to take the necessary measures to put an end to the continuous violations of international law and, in particular, of the basic norms of peaceful coexistence between states by the United States. Its bellicose attitude endangers the peace not only of Venezuela but of the entire region.
  6. Urges the international community to respect the rights of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs and, in particular, to cease military threats against them and the application of any unilateral coercive measures.
  7. Demands the government of the United States of America immediately lift the unilateral coercive measures against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, especially the immoral, unjust and illegal economic, financial and commercial blockade, which has caused suffering and constitutes a serious human rights violation with a particular impact on the lives, health and food security of the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

Signed by:

International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
American Association of Jurists (AAJ)
Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP)
Giuristi Democratici – Italia (GD)
Democratic Lawyers Association Pakistan
Associação Portuguesa de Juristas Democratas (APJD)
National Association of Democratic Lawyers – South Africa (NADEL)
Droit Solidarité – France
Union Nacional de Juristas de Cuba (UNJC)
Asociación Venezolana de Juristas


Photo credit: Joe Catron/Flickr



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