Opposition Leaders at Risk

Two of our World Fellows, Maria Corina Machado and Carlos Vecchio, are at risk in Venezuela.
 
 
Maria Corina currently represents the state of Miranda in the National Assembly of Venezuela, leads the Independent Parliamentary Faction and sits on the Interior Policy Committee. She has been involved in the nationwide protests across Venezuela. Now, the Venezuelan government wants to open a criminal investigation to decide whether she’s guilty of treason. They’re targeting Maria Corina after having arrested another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez - who remains in prison. 
 
More from Reuters here. We will continue to watch Maria Corina’s situation closely and press for her safety. 
 
And Carlos is National Political Coordinator of the Venezuelan opposition party Voluntad Popular (VP). He’s senior deputy to Leopoldo López, who was taken into custody on February 18, 2014 after a week of national protests and demonstrations (many led by VP members), followed by government raids on VP’s political offices. Some serious charges have been leveled against Carlos there is a warrant out for his arrest. With López’s detention, Carlos now serves as the de facto leader of the VP party: this makes him a likely government target. 
 
Carlos appeared at a rally in Venezuela on March 22nd - catch him at about the 3:00 minute mark. 
 
A loose translation:
“During these difficult times we should look to history to understand what our liberators had in mind when they created our homeland…  Venezuela will celebrate a new era of freedom and we can tell the world that we will live and die free in the land of Bolivar!”
 
We are deeply concerned for Carlos’ safety: he is currently in hiding in Venezuela with limited access to communication. Unlike López, he is not an internationally recognizable figure - media outlets outside of Venezuela have yet to report on his situation. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have released alerts specifically naming Carlos as a government target. The Yale Politic and Yale Alumni Magazine have also written about Carlos’ situation. 
 
But we worry that his relative anonymity will allow government forces the space and ability to do whatever they will without fear of international repercussion. 
 
While at Yale, Carlos Vecchio spoke passionately about his tireless efforts to promote democracy in Venezuela: his enthusiasm and depth of knowledge were infectious. He reached across campus to students, faculty and other Fellows – many of whom have rallied around him in this time of crisis – with his pure love of country and genuine respect for democratic ideals.  In Venezuela, Carlos a well-loved political figure and an inspiration to young people across the country. 
 
This is Carlos at a rally in Venezuela in December, just after he left Yale: 
 
 
Please join our efforts to raise global awareness of Carlos and Maria Corina’s situations, and support our call for their safety. Along with Yale World Fellows Henrique Salas-Romer (who is helping us from New Haven), they have has sacrificed much and placed himself and family at great risk to help Venezuela achieve democratic reform.
 
For more information and updates on the situation as we have them, please refer to the list of links and contacts below. Please help us spread the word by sharing this page and other links. We will continue to update this page as we receive news. 
 

Links/further reading: 
Carlos Vecchio Biography, Yale World Fellows
Venezuelan Opposition Chief Surrenders, but Not Without a Rally, The New York Times, Feb 18, 2014
Venezuela: Opposition Party Headquarters Raided, Amnesty International, Feb 18, 2014
Venezuelan Political Dissident Speaks Out at Yale, Yale Daily News, October 16, 2013
Henrique Salas-Romer Biography, Yale World Fellows
Maria Corina Machado Biography, Yale World Fellows
Don’t forget Vecchio, Yale Daily News, February 24, 2014
Building Democracy from Below in Venezuela, Yale Journal of International Affairs, Winter 2011