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09CARACAS1511 2009-12-01 20:20:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

VENEZUELA - Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment 2009

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DE RUEHCV #1511/01 3352020
R 012020Z DEC 09
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 001511 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2034/12/01
SUBJECT: VENEZUELA - Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment 2009

REF: 09 STATE 110433; 09 CARACAS 779


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: There is little to no progress to report
for the interim period. The Government of Venezuela (GBRV) refused
to meet with Post regarding TIP and remains reluctant to share
trafficking information, however it did provide some responses to
Post's recent inquiries. While official information remains
difficult to gather, IOs, NGOs, and shelters remain willing to
share unsubstantiated information with post periodically. END

2. (SBU) The Government of Venezuela has not amended the
2007 Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Violence-Free Life to
prohibit and adequately punish all forms of trafficking in persons,
particularly the internal trafficking of men and boys. Article 56
of this law does prohibit the trafficking of women and girls for
the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery,
irregular adoption, or organ extraction, prescribing punishments of
15 to 20 years' imprisonment. Articles 46 and 47 also prohibit
forced prostitution and sexual slavery, and carry penalties of 15
to 20 years imprisonment. As it is currently written the 2007 law
does not address the internal trafficking of adult males or boys.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed post on November 25, 2009,
that penalties against trafficking in men and boys already exist
under current law and protocols, which Post will further detail in
our annual TIP report submission.

3. (SBU) According to information received by Post from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 25, 2009, the Government of
Venezuela has detained 11 people for trafficking crimes, and has
conducted a total of 15 police investigations against suspected
traffickers in 2008-2009. Post is unable to independently verify
these statistics. The results of the 15 investigations are
unknown, and the lengths and ranges of the penalties imposed on
the 11 people detained are unknown. Post has requested follow up

4. (SBU) There was no information available regarding any
investigations by the Government of Venezuela regarding trafficking
complicity by public officials. NGOs, victims shelters, and
charitable organizations reported unsubstantiated rumors that
corrupt public officials, border guards, police, and members of the
National Guard were occasionally involved in trafficking crimes
and/or committed TIP crimes by engaging in sex with TIP victims,
acting as facilitators of transport through false documentation
and/or illegal border crossings, or receiving money from
traffickers for "looking the other way". Post could not
independently verify any of these claims.

5. (SBU) There was no information that the Government of
Venezuela had provided greater assistance or services to
trafficking victims. Government funding of shelters remained
extremely limited. Shelters designated specifically for TIP
victims remained virtually non-existent. The Ministry of Foreign
affairs claimed existing "Bolivarian Social Missions" adequately

addressed the social and economic needs of all vulnerable
populations, to include women, children, and adolescents. Post has
received no information from the Government or civil society
organizations to indicate the missions are adequately assisting TIP
victims. NGOs complained the government sponsored TIP hotline
frequently does not work.

6. (SBU) The Government of Venezuela did not appoint a
formal TIP coordinator to lead the government's anti-trafficking
efforts. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Post on November
25 that current efforts to combat the crime of TIP fall under the
jurisdiction of the Vice Ministry of Citizen Security, sub-unit on
Crime Prevention, whose Vice Minister is Juan Francisco Romero
Figueroa. The current director in charge of preventing TIP is Mr.
Edwin Antonio Rojas.

7. (SBU) Post is aware of no effort to improve data
collection on trafficking crimes by the Government of Venezuela.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported to Post on November 25,
2009, that seven cases of repatriation from abroad have occurred,

six for sexual exploitation in Trinidad and Tobago and Spain, and
one case of labor exploitation from Romania. Post notes these
statistics are identical to the data provided on March 27, 2009 and
are not new.

8. (C) Comment: The Government of Venezuela rejects any
sense of obligation to cooperate with U.S. efforts on reports such
as this, generally labeling all U.S. Congressionally mandated
reports as unilateralist. Indeed, the GBRV has in the past
characterized the U.S. practice of publishing evaluations of
Venezuelan efforts on problems like drug trafficking, human rights,
and TIP as an "obstacle to normalizing relations." (Ref B)
Nevertheless, should an interim assessment or final TIP report
contain what the GBRV alleges to be errors or unsubstantiated
assertions, the GBRV would likely attempt to dismiss the TIP Report
and suggest that the USG is more interested in attacking the GBRV
that in seriously addressing the TIP problem. End Comment.