Torture, Democide, Amazonian Ecocide & Other Crimes Against Humanity in Venezuela

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Torture, Democide, Amazonian Ecocide & Other Crimes Against Humanity in Venezuela

15th June 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

In Venezuela, human rights violations and crimes against humanity occur on a daily basis. A government defeated in an election has overseen extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, inhumane degrading treatment and sexual violence. Systematic persecution against opposition politicians and civil society organizations, and torture against dissidents and opponents, continue to be regular occurrences.

The Commission for Crimes Against Humanity has first-hand accounts from victims alleging the direct involvement of those in the highest positions in inducing and planning this repression, with a direct line to Nicolás Maduro. The Maduro regime uses torture in unimaginable ways to coerce the persecuted into incriminating themselves or accusing others of crimes that the regime itself has committed, even within its own intelligence agencies. The prisons of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) are full of civilians and military detained for alleged conspiracies. Political prisoners suffer all kinds of harassment, white torture, and psychological torture, including partial deprivation of food, leads to irreversible physical and psychological damage. For these reasons, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan has decided to open an investigation into the situation, announced last November.

Additionally, a rapidly growing environmental disaster is happening in the heart of the Amazon under the same regime. The situation in the Amazonas and Orinoco regions of Venezuela is reaching tragic levels brought about by uncontrolled illegal mining. The government’s 2016 Arco Minero plan to exploit the vast gold, diamond, coltan and other mineral reserves have been catastrophic, both for the region’s people and the environment, and will have tragic lasting irreversible effects on Venezuela and the world. Urgent measures need to be taken to halt this unfolding human and environmental disaster.

By kind invitation of Lord Hannan of Kingsclere, The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to welcome you to an in-person discussion in Parliament with Dr. Tamara Suju, who has carried out an investigation over more than twenty years, where testimonies, evidence, and exact descriptions of the places of torture have been compiled in order to make the world aware of the atrocities suffered by political prisoners. She will be joined by the Executive Director of the Casla Institute, Cristina Vollmer Burelli, one of the key drivers of SOSOrinoco, an organization operating undercover in Venezuela, in order to shed light on the existing body of work regarding the situation in the Amazonas and Orinoco regions of Venezuela.


Photo credit: CSIS


Cristina V. Burelli, a Venezuelan American social entrepreneur, is the founder and executive director of V5Initiative, a nonprofit that advises and connects civil society organizations in the Americas that focus on universal values, democracy, and the environment. Cristina matriculated at Queens’ College, Cambridge in 1981 and read for an M.A. in social anthropology. Previously, as executive director of Alliance for the Family between 2002 and 2014, she successfully took a visionary idea—a K-12 story-based universal values curriculum “Aprendiendo a Querer”—and transformed it into a sustainable, robust curriculum in three languages (Spanish, English, and Portuguese), as well as an English version for Africa, that has touched an estimated 500,000 children and teenagers in 16 countries, including Cuba where she managed a large-scale, complex project involving tens of thousands of Cuban students and families. Before moving to the United States in 2000, Cristina lived in her native country, Venezuela, where she was a trustee of the Alberto Vollmer Foundation, the British School, and El Museo de los Niños, one of the largest and most admired children’s museums in Latin America. For the last 20 years, Cristina has been deeply involved in various nonprofits in the United States that are mainly focused on education and youth, serving on the board of directors of Cambridge in America, the Orchestra of the Americas, as founding co-chair of the Global Leaders Program, Families of Character, National Fatherhood Initiative, and the Washington Studies Group. The common thread in her work in all these organizations has been her passion for education and the promotion of universal values through different means, including classical music. For the past two years, Cristina has been focused on the humanitarian and environmental crisis in Venezuela. In that context, she has been one of the key drivers of SOSOrinoco—an organization operating under cover in Venezuela—in order to shed light on the existing body of work regarding the situation in the Amazonas and Orinoco regions of Venezuela, raise awareness of the tragedy that is occurring, and outline some urgent measures that should be taken to halt the unfolding human and environmental disaster. She has spoken and written on topics close to her heart, such as the challenges and urgent needs for educating in democratic values and empowering the young by inspiring noble purpose through character and entrepreneurship, as well as the environmental devastation in Venezuela.



Tamara Sulay Sujú Roa is a Venezuelan Criminal Lawyer and human rights specialist, graduated from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello.  She has been a member of several non-governmental organizations, including la Fundación Nueva Conciencia Nacional, Damas de Blanco de Venezuela, and Fundapresos (organization of aid and legal assistance tocommon prisoners that has operated in different Venezuelan prisons between 2002 and 2006). Currently, she is the Executive Director of CASLA Institute, based in the Czech Republic and founded by collaborators of president Václav Havel.

Tamara has been accused by the ruling party of committing destabilizing acts. Nicolás Maduro declared, when he was president of the National Assembly, that she had betrayed herhomeland and worked for the CIA.

She has compiled cases of torture in Venezuela between 2002 and 2014 and formalized her accusation against Nicolás Maduro before the International Criminal Court in July 2016,when she presented before the Court a file of 65 incidences. On September 14, 2017, during the first hearing of the Organization of American States  (OEA, for its initials in Spanish) to study crimes against humanity in Venezuela, she filed a complaint of 289 cases of torture, including incidents occurred during the 2017 protests in Venezuela and 192 cases of sexual torture.



Daniel HannanLord Hannan of Kingsclere, is an author and columnist. He serves on the UK Board of Trade and is a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party responsible for its international relations. He teaches at the University of Buckingham and the University of Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala. He has written nine books, including the Sunday Times bestseller How We Invented Freedom. He sat as a Conservative MEP for 21 years, and was a founder of Vote Leave. He writes regular columns for, among others, The Sunday TelegraphThe Washington Examiner and ConservativeHome.






The Henry Jackson Society was pleased to hold a panel discussion on crimes against humanity committed by Maduro’s government in Venezuela. Lord Hannan of Kingsclere began the discussion by introducing the speakers and the topic of the conversation. Cristina V. Burelli presented the political, environmental, and social aspects of the Venezuelan crisis. She outlined the work of the  V5Initiative and its importance in mapping the catastrophe of resource extracting organized by the government. Tamara Sulay Sujú Roa explained the state’s systematic violence and its consequence for the Venezuelan people. She described the use of torture, the government’s link with drug cartels, the control of regions by subversive groups, and the constant repression of civil society forces. Both speakers agreed on the necessity for the international society to act, notably through investment in the ICC and the monitoring of illegal flows. They discussed the role of the US, Russia, and Iran, and the impact of the Ukraine war on Venezuela.




Committee Room G, House of Lords
London, SW1A 0AA United Kingdom


Tamara Sujú Roa, Cristina V. Burelli, Lord Hannan of Kingsclere


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