Caracas, January 23 – The Venezuelan Human Rights Education-Action Program – a non-governmental organization (NGO) with more than 35 years documenting, denouncing and training in the defense of the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of Venezuela – is pleased to announce the journalist, Oscar Murillo, as its new General Coordinator. This appointment not only represents a change in the organization’s leadership, but also a reinforcement of its unwavering commitment to the defense of democracy and human rights in the country.

The election of Oscar Murillo, decided by an Independent Commission – in accordance with Provea’s founding statutes – and after extensive deliberation between several candidates, highlights the organization’s commitment to internal democracy and the importance of a direction that reflects our values and principles. Oscar is preceded by Rafael Uzcátegui, a sociologist who held the position for 9 years and maintained Provea’s leadership in the Venezuelan human rights movement.

Since its creation in 1988 by Dinorah Contramaestre, Ligia Bolívar and Raúl Cubas, Provea has defended independence, autonomy, social equality and an unwavering focus on the humanistic and transformative contents present in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as pillars fundamental to their work. Oscar’s arrival strengthens this commitment, providing new perspectives and strategies in front of the challenges we face as Venezuelans as the civic space closes and the extension of the complex humanitarian emergency endures, in which more than twenty million people have needs for humanitarian care and which has expelled to more than 7.7 million people since 2015.

A trajectory on communication and human rights

Oscar Murillo began his career as a human rights defender in 2007 in Bolívar, his native region. Accompanied by Provea during the outbreak of union violence in Guayana, Oscar worked as a journalist with a human rights perspective, a work that later became a core pillar of his professional projects.

Being the School of Social Communication’s director at the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB) Guayana campus for more than 5 years and professor of communication, sociology and research for more than 12 years, Oscar has demonstrated exceptional leadership and a firm dedication to education and training of new generations. This experience, added to his career as a researcher of the Labor Rights chapter in several editions of Provea’s Annual Report, has given him a unique perspective on the challenges that Venezuela faces in terms of human rights and democracy.

Oscar has also led large-scale awareness campaigns, monitoring projects, human rights training, directed research and publishing projects, and has worked closely with vulnerable communities, giving him a deep and practical understanding of the issues in the terrain. He has motivation, experience in leadership, teamwork coordination, capacity for political analysis and knowledge of Provea’s internal and external reality after having been part of the General Assembly for several years.

Facing threats and challenges

The human rights movement in Venezuela is going through a critical moment. We face significant challenges: from the potential approval of the Law on Supervision, Regularization, Action and Financing against Non-Governmental Organizations; the threats and criminalization by government authorities against Provea and its founders; to the harassment by government leaders and the financial instability worldwide.

Faced with these obstacles, Provea reaffirms its commitment to strengthening its work in the defense of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. We will seek to expand ties with other Venezuelan organizations and increase the denunciation of serious violations of human rights in a context where these are increasingly threatened and civic space, as we know it, is at risk.

“The current situation is one of collapse and destruction of the society that we knew and that our parents and grandparents helped to build. Faced with this reality, it is imperative to revalidate our commitment to fight, defend and promote human dignity in all spaces,” explained Provea’s new General Coordinator.

For Murillo, assuming the position of General Coordinator represents a renewal of vows at a time when current circumstances are discouraging and exhausting. However, he believes that in front of the challenges Venezuela is facing, Provea and the human rights movement are a source of light and hope for many Venezuelans.

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