The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Venezuela to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Venezuela's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government's human rights and democracy strategy focuses on advancing democratic principles and practices, and human rights, by supporting non-partisan citizen efforts to strengthen independent civil society, particularly groups working on political pluralism and press freedom. The U.S. Government also encourages support for local government and citizen participation and efforts to strengthen democratic political parties. U.S. officials develop strategy priorities by working with international organizations, NGOs, labor unions, and other groups to discuss problems related to human rights and democracy. The U.S. Government also uses public diplomacy, thematically focused foreign assistance directed largely to local and international NGOs for civil society organizations, and cooperation with other governments and multilateral organizations to advance strategic objectives.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
U.S. assistance supports democracy by funding nonpartisan projects to train interested political groups in organizational development and public outreach to help them participate more effectively in the democratic political process. The U.S. Government also supports efforts to inform, register, and mobilize voters.
U.S. programs use public diplomacy to express concerns about government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, laws governing libel and broadcast media content, media licensing requirements, harassment, detention, and prosecution of journalists and media figures. U.S. officials invite media experts to the country to discuss the state of press freedom in Latin America and to provide grants for seminars on press freedom, human rights reporting, and investigative journalism. The United States government also provides funding for Venezuelan journalists to attend professional seminars in the United States. In connection with Daniel Pearl World Music Day, U.S. officials join with the national professional journalism association to sponsor an annual concert featuring well-known Venezuelan journalists and musicians to underscore the importance of freedom of expression in a democracy.
U.S. support to NGO and civil society groups working to build responsible governance institutions helps foster a culture of democratic participation and tolerance through civic education and active citizen engagement. U.S. programs support strengthening human rights NGOs operating in an environment of government pressure and harassment by sharing information on strategies successfully employed by human rights defenders in other countries. This expertise enables NGOs to serve as effective human rights defenders in an increasingly difficult political environment.
The United States meets regularly with independent civil society groups and international organizations that monitor human rights, democracy, and press freedom issues. In addition, the United States hosts discussions involving Venezuelan human rights advocates and members of the international diplomatic community to raise awareness of government actions that restrict freedom of the press, such as the closure of independent radio stations critical of the government and the persecution of political opponents.
The United States works with civil society groups that address labor rights, trafficking in persons, and women's issues; this includes sponsoring Digital Video Conferences between antitrafficking organizations in Venezuela and counterpart advocacy groups in the United States. U.S. exchange visits raise awareness about eliminating violence against women and preventing trafficking in persons. The United States supports efforts to strengthen the ability of labor unions to protect and advocate for worker rights and educate the public on the importance of worker rights.