On Thursday, there was a report which has been issued by United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet accused the Venezuela government of using a strategy of instilling fear in its population to retain power and removing opponents with a "shocking" number of alleged extrajudicial killings. Arguing that the impact on human lives is illegal under worldwide laws, the study said, "We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017-2018".
The report interviewed 558 victims and witnesses of human rights violations.
Interviewees consistently referred to FAES as a "death squad" or "extermination group".
Families of 20 men had described how masked men dressed in black from Venezuela's Special Action Forces (FAES) had arrived in black pickups without license plates.
It said they broke into their houses, taking belongings and assaulting women, and in some cases stripping them naked.
"They contributed to the deteriorating situation by exercising social control and helping repress demonstrations", the OHCHR report says of the "colectivos".
Venezuela's economy has been in precipitous decline following a global downturn in the price of crude oil, the country's main export.
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In 2018, the Government registered 5,287 killings, purportedly for "resistance to authority" during operations, the report continues, adding that between 1 January and 19 May this year, another 1,569 people were killed, according to Government figures. Despite her criticism of Caracas, Bachelet refrained from calling for an global investigation into the violations in the country, and said she wanted to give the government the opportunity to carry out reforms without setting a "deadline".
The Venezuelan representative at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council, Deputy Foreign Minister William Castillo, underscored that the document lacks impartiality by ignoring the information provided to Bachelet on the progress of social policies and the protection of the people promoted by the Government. She also noted that allegations of extrajudicial killings were "shockingly high", with over 5,000 reports of such killings in previous year alone.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet after her meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela.
Thursday's report also decried a wide range of other grave rights violations in Venezuela, which is caught in an economic crisis and a political standoff between President Nicolas Maduro's government and National Assembly leader Juan Guaido. The oil-rich nation is also suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods from food to medicine, a crisis that has forced millions to flee.
The crowd that gathered to hear the center-right leader, who in January declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro's authority, was markedly smaller than those at the beginning of the year.
"In a surprisingly forthright account given the warmth she received from the Maduro regime during her visit there last month, the former socialist president of Chile urged the Maduro regime to "take immediate steps to halt widespread rights violations being perpetrated against the country's people and work to resolve this all-consuming crisis".