Daughter of Venezuelan politician pressured in Australia

19 May 2017By sunil

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Lucia Rodriguez, daughter of the mayor of Caracas (SBS)

SBS World News Radio: Venezuelan activists are calling for the daughter of a key Venezuelan political figure to be deported from Australia.

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Lucia Rodriguez, a university student, has been accused of living a lavish lifestyle as Venezuelans suffer under a failing economy and human-rights abuses.

But her treatment is expected to prompt a request from the Venezuelan government for Australian authorities to intervene.

Ms Rodriguez is the daughter of controversial Caracas mayor Jorge Rodriguez, a key figure in former president Hugo Chavez's government.

And for the past year, she has been studying film at the Creative Media Institute in Sydney.

But it is her social-media posts which have sparked fury from Venezuelan expatriates in Australia.

Thousands have signed a petition calling on the Australian government to deport Ms Rodriguez.

A Venezuelan political activist identifying himself only as Pablo says what the activists call her lavish lifestyle is unacceptable while Venezuelans face desperation at home.

"In Venezuela, people are starving, there's no food, there's no medicine, so it's unacceptable that we let these people live here in Australia that way."

Ms Rodriguez's critics say they worry, though, that simply speaking out could have repercussions for their families back in Venezuela.

Raul Sanchez Urribarri, a lecturer in Crime, Justice and Legal Studies at Melbourne's La Trobe University, suggests there is an understandable perspective from each side.

"Lucia is here on a valid visa, she's studying, she has every right to have her personal integrity being respected. And on the other hand, you have an unfolding situation of conflict in Venezuela that has, of course, caused great concern."

Venezuela is struggling under dire economic conditions, prompting waves of violent protest as demonstrators demand the removal of President Nicolas Maduro.

But a video of Ms Rodriguez being harassed at Sydney's Bondi Beach has sparked anger from the top Venezuelan political sphere.

In the video, activists accost her, demanding answers about her family connections and the unrest back home.

Venezuelan MP Braulio Alvarez, from the Socialist Party of Venezuela, has told SBS Spanish Radio the country's parliament will act on the matter.

He says parliament will form a commission to investigate Venezuelans living overseas who are making videos and protesting against Venezuelans linked to the government.

"Yes, there should be some ascertainment but also (a way) to oblige these citizens to respect any other Venezuelan who has a different political opinion, the same way we respect all the citizens who have a different political view within Venezuela. That's why we're making this request and there are these (international) agreements."

Mr Alvarez says the Australian government can expect a request soon from Venezuela to intervene in her case.

 

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