HRF mourns the passing of Ramón J. Velásquez

Human Rights Foundation


( NEW YORK. - The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) deeply regrets the passing of Ramón José Velásquez Mujica, the Venezuelan statesman and author. A member of HRF’s International Council, Velásquez was a remarkable man with many titles, including former president of Venezuela (1993-1994). He passed away yesterday, at his home in Caracas, at the age of 97.

Velásquez co-authored the famous “Black Book of the Dictatorship,” a detailed account of human rights violations perpetrated by the military regime under General Marcos Pérez Jiménez in Venezuela in the 1950s. Published in 1952, the book documented extrajudicial executions, torture, and other abuses by the government. Velásquez was imprisoned after the book was published. 

After he was freed from jail in 1958, Velásquez became a part of the first democratic government in Venezuela after the fall of the dictatorship. In 1993, as a result of the constitutional crisis that occurred after the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez, the Venezuelan Congress appointed Velásquez as interim president. Velásquez held several other public offices, including senator, deputy, and minister.
Throughout his career as a distinguished historian and award-winning writer and journalist, Velásquez also authored several essays about the social and political history of Venezuela. He wrote and edited many books and was also responsible for countless newspaper articles. He was director of El Nacional newspaper and founder of the newspaper El Mundo in Venezuela. In 1967, the School of Journalism at Columbia University awarded him the Maria Moors Cabot Prize.
In this video, from the 2009 Oslo Freedom Forum, Velásquez discusses the importance of new technologies in the struggle for freedom under dictatorship.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. We believe that all human beings are entitled to freedom of self-determination, freedom from tyranny, the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes human rights advocates George Ayittey, Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Garry Kasparov, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.


HRF supports El Sexto's first US exhibit
Human Rights Foundation
Photo: HRF.   ( NEW YORK (February 10, 2015) — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is delighted to announce Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado Machado’s first art show in the United States. El Sexto, a Cuban graffiti artist and activist, will showcase his work in an exhibition entitled “PORK,” which will take place at Market Gallery in South Beach, Miami, from February 26 to March 16.
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A Paper Boat Named "Liberty"
José Azel
Investigador, Universidad de Miami
  ( Property rights, or the lack of them, are central to all contemporary political philosophies. Marxism rejects property rights outright, as explained by Karl Marx in the second chapter of his Communist Manifesto: “the theory of Communists may be summed up in a single phrase: Abolition of private property."
El Sexto in New York: Cuban political prisoner visits HRF‏
Human Rights Foundation
El Sexto. Photo by the author.   ( NEW YORK (December 14, 2015) — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) met with Cuban artist and dissident Danilo "El Sexto" Maldonado last Tuesday. After being imprisoned for ten months, without trial, for creating art that Cuban authorities considered "defamatory," the graffiti artist arrived in New York City to meet with HRF staff, including HRF chairman Garry Kasparov.
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