Disinfo: UN report on Venezuela ignores US sanctions, opposition violence


The 5 July UN Human Rights Report on the situation in Venezuela lays a disproportionate amount of blame on the Maduro government, but ignores the effect of the US sanctions on the deteriorating socioeconomic crisis plaguing the Latin American country.

While readily condemning government forces for violence and repression of dissent, it does not discuss deaths at the hands of opposition protesters between 2014 and 2017. In one infamous episode in June 2017, a 22-year-old man was burned alive by an angry opposition mob — one of at least 60 people murdered by the guarimberos during that riot.


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on the situation in Venezuela, painting the ongoing socioeconomic catastrophe there as a direct consequence of US sanctions. See our debunk of this claim here.

Upon charging that the UN report ignores the role of US sanctions in the crisis, the article immediately acknowledges that the opposite is the case, quoting from the UN press release summarizing High Commissioner Bachelet's findings. In the very next sentence, however, it reverts to arguing that the report dismisses their effect "with a wave of the hand."

Explicit reference to the negative impact of sectoral sanctions was made in the report itself (pp. 5-6, 14) and during the press conference which accompanied its publication (1:21-1:35, in Spanish). At the same time, the report notes that the beginning of the economic crisis far predates the imposition of the sanctions regime, citing the Venezuelan government's own statistical data (p. 6, para 27).

The "60-people-murdered" claim is unreferenced and false. The figure was likely lifted from a June 2017 BBC report, which cites Venezuela's chief prosecutor as saying that "[a]t least 60 people have been killed in protest-related violence since the beginning of April" that year. In other words, a total five dozen people (both pro-government and pro-opposition) were killed (not necessarily "murdered by guarimberos") in the space of two months (not during one riot) in a year which saw an average of 27 protests daily. By the end of July 2017, the total number of protest-related deaths had risen to 124 (p. 10), of which 46 were attributed to law enforcement and 27 to pro-government militias (p. 12); of the remaining 51 deaths, only four were tentatively attributed to anti-government groups (p. 32).


  • Reported in: Issue 158
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 06/07/2019
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Venezuela, US
  • Keywords: United Nations, Nicolas Maduro, Human rights, Economic difficulties, State oppression, Sanctions


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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