Today we close a chapter of Venezuelan history and begin a new era. December 2 will be remembered as the day on which Venezuelans took back our country from the brink of dictatorship, reaffirming our democratic values, our right to freedom, and our desire to live in peace. Yon Goicoechea
23 years old and in his last year of law school, Yon Goicoechea Lara, alongside a group of student leaders from numerous universities in Venezuela, has emerged as representative and spokesperson of a dissident movement that defends the democratic values in his country.
The Student Movement has called for national reconciliation and constantly used the language and tactics of non-violence and peaceful resistance. Yon Goicoechea and his classmates have chosen to publicly oppose what they see as the violations of human rights by the Venezuelan government. Since May 27, 2007prompted by the shutdown of Radio Caracas Television after their broadcasting license was not renewed (see www.FreeRCTV.com)there has been a constant student presence on the streets and outside the headquarters of public offices.
The Student Movement has presented documents to the different branches of the Venezuelan government, including the Peoples Ombudsman, the National Legislature, the Supreme Tribunal, the Attorney Generals Office, and the National Electoral Council, as well as on an international level to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. These documents demand that the government guarantee the students the right to demonstrate peacefully; the right to participate in public affairs regardless of their political affiliations; and the rights to life, liberty and physical integrity. These documents were all presented in accordance with Venezuelan laws and regulations, in response to police repression and the more than 200 student demonstrators detained by state security officials during the exercise of their right to protest.
The support garnered by the Student Movementnot only from students but from civil society in generalhas received the attention of government authorities: the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez; the President of the Legislative Assembly, Cilia Flores; parliamentarians such as Luis Tascón and Iris Valera; the Minister of Interior and Justice Pedro Carreño; and the Leader of the Government Party, Lina Ron. These officials, among others, have publicly attacked dissenting students, labeling them as fascists, enemies of the fatherland, far-right collaborationists, and puppets of the empire among other characterizations.
All of this has generated an environment of growing violence in which government loyalists have verbally and physically assaulted Yon Goicoechea and other student leaders. During a recent roundtable to discuss the consequences of the Constitutional Reform proposed by President Chávez, Yon Goicoechea could not present his views because he was severely beaten by a hostile group of students, seriously injuring his face and head.
Goicoechea and his family are subjected to constant intimidation. This situation became particularly serious when the threats were directed to Yons father, who has been in state custody awaiting trial for more than three years. Anonymous calls threatened to worsen his fathers conditions in jail. Yon has recently had to intensify his security precautions (which include constantly changing the place were he sleeps and changing his telephones regularly) due to increased threats and physical attacks.
Yon and other Student Movement leaders and participants are victims of political persecution and aggression from followers of President Hugo Chávez simply because of their public exposure and the open and clear manner in which they have denounced what they consider to be serious human rights violations in Venezuela.
Goicoechea has expressed to us his concern for his and his familys physical integrity and his fear of being falsely accused by the Public Prosecutors Office (one of the governments most common tactics used to intimidate and silence dissidents).
The Human Rights foundation has taken Yon Goicoecheas case as the second case in its Caracas Nine Campaign. Yon is a leader of the dissident student community and the Venezuelan Government is legally bound to guarantee his right to peaceful demonstration without coercion, abuses, or excessive force from the state security officials. The state must guarantee to the student community the rights to life, physical integrity, freedom of conscience, freedom of movement, due process, and protection against torture and inhumane or degrading treatment. Furthermore, these rights must apply to all persons regardless of political affiliation or opinions. HRF stands for the rights of Yon Goicoechea and the student dissident community. Anything less than fully guaranteeing and protecting the abovementioned rights is a violation of the Venezuelan Constitution and the international treaties that Venezuela has signed and ratified.
|Last and First Names:||Goicoechea Lara, Yon|
|Date of Birth:||November 8, 1984|
|Languages:||Spanish, English and French|
|Current Status:||Student dissident leader, persecuted by government loyalists
|2003||Registered for his first year of Law School at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB).|
|2003||Registered as a volunteer with UCAB Organization for Social Work in Prisons.|
|2004||Registered as a volunteer with UCAB Center for Popular Legal Council.|
|2005||Elected vice-president of UCAB Law School student council.|
|2006||Member of UCAB delegation at the Latin American Model United Nations, awarded an Honorable Mention for his outstanding performance.|
|2006||Elected Secretary General of the General Council of Student Representatives, the highest position of student governance at UCAB.|
|2007||Received the Ucabista Integral award, given by UCAB to students who excel in both academics and extra-curricular activities.
From an early age, Yon was an outstanding student who showed great interest in the humanities. He received a formal musical education, learned to play the flute, and swam for the Miranda State team, winning numerous athletic awards.
He spent most of his childhood under the care of his paternal grandparents, who had emigrated from Cuba and the Basque Country. In 2003, Yons father was imprisoned on criminal charges and has been in state custody awaiting trial ever since.
Currently, Yon is at the top of his class at UCAB. He has completed workshops and participated in national and international seminars on topics such as Humanitarian Diplomacy (University of Seville, Spain) Latin American Public Law (Central University of Venezuela), Venezuelan Penitentiary System and Penal Code (Supreme Court), Democracy and Rule of Law (Central University of Venezuela), Conference on Tax Law (Venezuelan Tax Law Association),and Advances in International Arbitration (Central University of Venezuela). He has also worked as a law clerk for the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.
Prompted by the arbitrary shutdown of Radio Caracas Television on May 28, 2007, Yon Goicoechea joined other student leaders from around the country in organizing a series of protest movements. These protests were positively received by large segments of the population, including important citizens groups sympathetic to president Chávez.
Yons leadership skills have helped him become one of the most widely heard voices of public discontent against government policy. He is an important leader of the Student Movement, a group of students from numerous Venezuelan Universities and institutions of learning united in their principled defense of civil rights. Currently, he is openly opposing President Chávezs proposed constitutional reform, as well as heading various protest activities. On October 25, 2007, Yon was beaten and injured by a group of government loyalists in a forum on constitutional reform at the Caracas Pedagogical Institute. Yon continues to spearhead acts of peaceful protest in defense of democracy and Venezuelan liberty.
NOTE: All documents are in Spanish.
Pleadings and others documents from Students Movement
- Pleadings from the Student Movement to the Peoples Ombudsman Office (May 30, 2007)
- Pleadings from the Student Movement before the National Assembly: Right to petition (June 1, 2007)
- Speech of the Student Movement before the National Assembly (June 6, 2007)
- Student Movements pleadings before the Supreme Tribunal: Class action (June 5, 2007)
- Pleadings from the Student Movement before the Attorney Generals Office (June 7, 2007)
- Plea for provisional measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - IACHR (May 30, 2007)
- Plea for extension of provisional measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights IACHR (April 2007)
- Plea for correction of provisional measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights IACHR (September 28, 2007)
- Declaration for Freedom (June 22, 2007); Manuela Bolivar Declaration
About the Constitucional Reform
- Complete text of the Project for Constitutional Reform presented by President Hugo Chávez to the National Legislature can be found at:
(click on Reforma Constitucional and then Proyecto de Reforma de la Constitución)
- Complete Text of the Proposal for Constitutional Reform approved by the National Legislature can be found at:
(click on Reforma Constitucional and then Reforma Constitucional aprobada por la Asamblea)
- Letter from Fedecámaras (association of Chambers of Commerce) communicating their stance on the Constitutional Reform (November 2, 2007):
- Letter form the Catholic Church Hierarchy warning about the Constitutional Reform (October 19, 2007):
NOTE: All videos are in Spanish.
25/11/07 - Tu.tv hispavista
Yon Goicoechea's three No's:
10/25/07 - YouTube
Statements by Yon Goicoechea after being attacked during a roundtable about the constitutional reform:
10/25/07 - Globovisión
Confrontation at the Pedagogical Center in Caracas:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=aTfEfx87qRk (part I)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=QQkGYjBcjRw (part II)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=vM96rdFjw-8 (part III)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=DuoOq4orGTs (part IV)
10/20/07 - YouTube
Yon Goicoechea summoning the students to a demonstration against the constitutional reform:
June 2007 - YouTube
Yon Goicoechea stating his political principles and those of the Student Movement during an interview with Voice of America soon after RCTVs shutdown:
05/30/07 - YouTube
Yon Goicoechea talking about the Student Movement and the importance of the defense of civil rights:
05/07/07 - YouTube
Yon Goicoechea giving the closing arguments in his representation of the Student Movement at the Legislative Assembly (and Celia Floress reply):
June 2007 - Globovisión
Debate between Yon Goicochea and Héctor Rodríguez:
06/04/07 - YouTube
Student demonstration in Caracas on its way to the Supreme Tribunal:
05/31/07 - YouTube
Student demonstration in San Cristobal:
05/29/07 - YouTube
Student demonstration in Caracas: