Human rights defender
Genesis is a human rights lawyer from Venezuela and founder of non-governmental organisation Defiende Venezuela (Defend Venezuela). With her organisation, she is dedicated to filing cases of human rights violations taking place in Venezuela before international mechanisms of protection. Defiende Venezuela has represented more than 200 victims from different social structures in the Venezuelan society over the last three years. The victims have varied from patients with chronic diseases unable to access medical treatment provided by the State, to students arbitrarily detained and tortured in the context of the 2014-2017 demonstrations, as well as some of the most prominent opposition leaders. Additionally, Genesis also trained over 300 human rights defenders nationally and internationally on human rights.
Human Rights violations in Venezuela
Since 2014, Venezuela has been witnessing political unrest, including mass protests against the Maduro government whose response has included operations resulting in detentions and deaths. In 2019, Guaidó was appointed as the President of the National Assembly and soon after declared himself interim-President of Venezuela. As a result, new demonstrations in support of Guaidó took place in various cities. In 2020, growing tensions between the regime and the opposition are expected, especially with elections likely taking place by the end of 2020.
Threats and challenges
In Venezuela, human rights defenders have been targeted and are branded as ‘terrorists’, ‘imperialist organisations’ and ‘enemies of the state’. Human rights lawyers that represent political cases are at even greater risk. Some of the lawyers Genesis has worked more closely with, have been harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.
Genesis also faces many difficulties because of her work. In 2019, when participating in a demonstration, she was attacked with a tear gas bomb. She also asked her mother to move out of the country to prevent her from being attacked as a result of Genesis’ work.