On July 29, a protest was held outside the main Prosecutor's Office in Caracas. The demonstrators were protesting in defense of the right to social protest. It was a response to growing repression of political protests in Venezuela.
The demo was supported by various groups including human rights organizations as well as socialist, worker and anarchist groups. Activists pointed out at the same time as the government is repressing social protest, the murderers of farmers and trade unions have gone unpunished.
A representative of the Prosecutor's Office of course denied that they repress workers for protesting but claimed there were other reasons. The date of the demonstration was not accidental: early that morning was to be a hearing in the case of the 14 SIDOR workers charged with "misappropriation and restricting the freedom to work", crimes invented by the government in 2005 to restrict the right to strike. The case was postponed until February 2010.
The protestors demanded that all laws which criminalize protest be repealed, that an investigation be made into the killings of unionists, farmers and social activists, that all activists arrested for social protest be released and not be required to report to authorities and that the police stop repressing protest and not be allowed to used teargas or firearms against protestors.
More than 2,200 people, including dozens of labor union representatives, have been indicted on criminal charges stemming from their participation in protests over the last four years.
Venezuela's National Security Law allows as much as 10 years in prison for anyone involved in demonstrations within "security zones" ringing government offices, oil installations, military garrisons and other public facilities. Another law punishes people who "prevent the production, importation, gathering, transportation, distribution or marketing of essential goods" with six to 10 years in prison. "Restricting the freedom to work" is also a crime, just right for strikebreakers.