After recent anti-government protests in Venezuela, Amnesty International has issued an urgent call for action on behalf of an opposition leader with ties to Yale University. An arrest order has been issued for Carlos Vecchio.
In February, Venezuelan security forces raided the offices of opposition party Voluntad Popular, and took its leader into custody. Co-founder Carlos Vecchio became the group’s de facto leader. Now a warrant is out for his arrest.
Venezuelan politician Henrique Salas-Romer is a visiting fellow at Yale. He said, "They haven't [found] Carlos Vecchio because he’s moving all over the country and hiding. He’s hidden. So it's very important to start defending Carlos Vecchio, because the government is after him."
Vecchio spent several months in New Haven last year as part of a special leadership training program called Yale World Fellows, and just returned to Venezuela in December.
Salas-Romer said that ongoing protests in Venezuela are fueled by a alarming murder rate, scarcity of food, and runaway inflation – at 56 p ercent, the highest rate in Latin America. "The students are protesting," he said. "The young people are the ones who are taking to the streets. But now, 14 people were killed, 300 are injured, and 600 students are arrested."
In his bio, Vecchio -- a former Fulbright Scholar -- describes Voluntad Popular as a social and political movement aimed at youth, and working to eliminate poverty peacefully, and with democracy.