Maduro closes UN office in Caracas after activist arrested

After an activist was arrested
Maduro closed the UN office in Caracas

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Venezuela's foreign ministry has closed the UN human rights office in the capital and given all staff three days to leave the country. Not long ago, the country's most prominent human rights activist was arrested.

The Venezuelan government has closed the local office of the UN human rights commissioner and expelled staff from the country. The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said the personnel must leave Venezuela within 72 hours. Employees will unilaterally take the stand of the opposition. “Rather than being an impartial body, the agency has become a private office for coup d'etats and terrorist groups that continue to plot against the country,” Foreign Minister Yuan Gil said.

The move follows a statement two days earlier in which the office expressed “deep concern” over the detention of prominent human rights activist Rocio San Miguel and called for his immediate release. He faces charges of sedition and terrorism. He was allegedly involved in a plot to assassinate President Nicol├ís Maduro.

Repression of opposition party members before elections

The popular activist was arrested at the San Miguel airport.

The popular activist was arrested at the San Miguel airport.

(Photo: AP)

San Miguel is the head of Ciudadano (Civil Control), a non-governmental organization that documents human rights abuses by the police, military and secret service. Among other things, he exposed the military's involvement in illegal mining and the killing of women in army ranks.

The entire San Miguel family was arrested

Recently, repression against government opponents has increased again in Venezuela. Ahead of this year's presidential election, President Maduro has sought to remain firmly in office, with several leading opposition figures barred from political activity. It was not immediately clear whether the Venezuelan government communicated the order to close the office directly to the United Nations.

Human rights activist San Miguel was detained at an airport near Caracas on Friday as she and her daughter waited for a flight to Miami. Authorities only confirmed his arrest on Sunday, and his lawyer was not allowed to meet him until Wednesday.

Attorney General Derek William Sapp said earlier this week that the lawyer was being held at Helicoid Prison, a notorious facility for political prisoners. San Miguel's daughter, her ex-husband, two brothers and her ex-partner were also arrested following the arrest. Of them, only their ex-partner is still in custody.

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