State Department, Human Rights Groups Condemn Abuses

The State Department calls for the “immediate release” of Venezuelan political prisoners, after Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, met in Washington with relatives of jailed Venezuelan opposition leaders, including the wife of Leopoldo Lopez.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch and Venezuelan human rights group Provea say that police and security forces committed human rights abuses while taking part in a campaign to stamp out criminal gangs in Venezuela, launched in July 2015. The groups report that police conducted illegal killings, mass arbitrary detentions and forced evictions. They say that security forces detained more than 14,000 people temporarily between July 2015 and January 2016, but fewer than 100 were charged.

A BBC report says that local community councils have complained that Maduro’s socialist party has taken over from them the role of distributing food, alleging that food is being withheld from those who voted for the opposition in December’s parliamentary election.