On January 31 of this year nine Venezuelan students began a hunger strike in front of the offices of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Caracas, Venezuela. They are demanding that the Venezuelan government allow OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza to visit the country in order to evidence the deterioration of the civil and political liberties. According to OAS protocol, officials may only visit member states upon invitation by their governments. Venezuela has refused the admittance of the OAS on multiple occasions, specifically denying the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights the opportunity to evaluate the situation in the country.
In a press release, the students stated, “...we have taken the decision to put our lives at risk for the purpose of having our voices heard by the Organization of American States. Our hunger strike aims to highlight the unsustainable situation of the systematic violation of our Human Rights by the government of Hugo Chavez against those who openly disagree with their ideas and official policies.”
Since they began, other students in other cities have joined the strike – bringing the total to 63. The strike has extended so far 19 days, and the health of these young people is at risk. The fact that they would take such measures to seek the attention of the global community speaks to the gravity of their concerns. The government of Venezuela, in the person of Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, has responded stating that the situation is, “an internal issue.” Minister of the Interior Tarek El Aissami met with the students on Thursday to attempt to secure the end of their protest.