Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet made a three-day trip to Venezuela to evaluate the state of the human rights crisis in the country. Bachelet’s trip to Venezuela was her first as High Commissioner. From the beginning, the trip was surrounded by high expectations from different social and political actors hoping to see Bachelet’s presence mark an important turning point for the crisis in Venezuela. At the same time, many questioned if the visit would make any difference at all, including Global Americans contributor Andrés Cañizález, considering the limited role that the UN and its actors have played in past country contexts.
Bachelet met with President Nicolás Maduro, as well as opposition leader Juan Guaidó. She also met with other Venezuelan leaders and victims of human rights violations, allowing Bachelet to hear the arguments of both pro-government and anti-government forces. As Bachelet wrapped up her visit, a small protest was organized outside of the U.N.’s office to denounce the government’s human rights violations. At the end of her visit, Bachelet called for the release of political prisoners and denounced torture practices as well as extrajudicial killings. She also announced that the Venezuelan government had agreed to allow a team of human rights officers to monitor the situation from Venezuela.
In a press conference following her visit, Bachelet briefly stated her conclusions from the visit, and said a more detailed report should be released on July 5th. After the announcement, Guaidó called for a major protest on the same day to mark the release of the report and Venezuelan independence day. The depth of Bachelet’s report will likely motivate the #5Jul protests as well as answer this central question: Did Bachelet’s visit to Venezuela make a difference? So far, all that has come out of it are empty words.