The First Justice party (Primero Justicia, PJ); the date the party was founded; its leaders; its political leanings; its headquarters; its activities; treatment of its members; the activities and names of the members on its national propaganda committee and its propaganda committee in Colón (State of Zulia) (1998-September 2003) [VEN41994.FE]

The civil association First Justice (Primero Justicia, PJ) was founded in 1992 by a group of university students who were motivated by their desire to reform the legal system in Venezuela (Primero Justicia n.d.a). The movement first appeared on the political scene in 1999 during the reform of the Constitution, and was officially recognized as a political party in 2000 (ibid.). Described as a rightist party by various sources (Sun-Sentinel 6 Sept. 2003; Venezuela Analítica 6 June 2003; El País 28 July 2003), First Justice presented candidates in the 2000 elections (Primero Justicia n.d.a). According to the party's Website, five of its candidates were elected to the National Assembly, two to the offices of mayors of Chacao and Baruta, and twenty-three to the municipal councils of Chacao, Baruta, Los Salias, Sucre and Acevedo, all towns in the State of Miranda (ibid.).

According to an article in the 26 November 2001 issue of The Washington Post, the constitution proposed by the party is "about the closest thing to a political alternative to [President] Chavez, guaranteeing health, education and justice while proposing far less government control over the economy." Nevertheless, the same article added that the party's members are concentrated in the Caracas area (The Washington Post 26 Nov. 2001).

First Justice headquarters are situated at the following address: Centro Comercial Chacaíto, nivel sótano, local 26, Caracas (Primero Justicia n.d.b). Julio Borges, a National Assembly deputy (ibid. n.d.a), is leader of the party (ibid. n.d.b). The secretary-general is José Luis Mejías (ibid.). Members on the party's National Steering Committee (Junta de Dirección Nacional) are Armando Briquet, Carlos Ocariz, Christian Chirinos, Gerardo Blyde, Henrique Capriles, José Luis Mejías, Juan Carlos Caldera, Juan Manuel Raffalli, Julio Borges, Leonardo Palacios, Leopoldo López and Liliana Hernández (ibid. n.d.c).

Although no mention of the party's national propaganda committee could be found among the sources consulted, one source did indicate that Soledad Morillo is director of the party's communications secretariat (El Norte 4 Mar. 2003). The other secretariat members are Laura Ortega, Yoslin Sánchez and Alejandro Plaza (Primero Justicia n.d.b). No information on the activities of the communications secretariat or on the names of its members in 1998 could be found among the sources consulted.

No mention of the party's propaganda committee in Colón (State of Zulia) could be found among the sources consulted.

Various sources mentioned acts of violence against party members or property. For example, in April 2002, the party's offices in Barcelona (State of Anzoátegui) were vandalized by unknown persons during a general strike (El Universal 12 Apr. 2002).

On 24 May 2002, according to an article in the El Universal newspaper, several party members, including Leopoldo López, the mayor of Chacao, were threatened and attacked by supporters of President Chavez when they arrived at the University of the East (Universidad de Oriente) for a conference (25 May 2002). No mention of any arrests as a result of this incident could be found among the sources consulted.

On 6 June 2003, during a political meeting at the Faculty of Law at the University of Zulia (Universidad del Zulia), gunmen opened fire in the conference room where Leopoldo López was (El Universal 7 June 2003; Venezuela Analítica 6 June 2003). The faculty's students and professors blamed pro-Chavez groups for the attack (ibid.).

In July 2003, unknown persons attacked Julio Borges, leader of the First Justice party, and others who were attending a meeting at the University of the East (El Universal 29 July 2003). Though Borges escaped unharmed, four other people were injured (ibid.).

In the early morning hours of 19 August 2003, vandals opened fire and threw a bomb into the party's offices in Barquisimeto (State of Lara) (ibid. 20 Aug. 2003).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


El Norte [Barcelona, Venezuela]. 4 March 2003. "Campaña 'Todos somos responsables de todos' un éxito inesperado." http://www.elnorte.com.ve/2003_marzo/04/Nacionales144.html [Accessed 18 Sept. 2003]

El País [Montevideo]. 28 July 2003. "Cuatro heridos en ataque a opositores del presidente Chávez." http://www.elpais.com.uy/03/07/28/ultmo_51375.asp [Accessed 18 Sept. 2003]

Primero Justicia (PJ). n.d.a. "Historia." http://www.primerojusticia.org.ve [Accessed 12 Sept. 2003]

_____. n.d.b. "Sede nacional." http://www.primerojusticia.org.ve [Accessed 12 Sept. 2003]

_____. n.d.c. "Estructura." http://www.primerojusticia.org.ve [Accessed 12 Sept. 2003]

Sun-Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale]. 6 September 2003. Reed Lindsay. "Opponents Unite to Unseat President." http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/caribbean/sfl-hvenrefsep06,0,4286659.story?coll=sfla-news-caribbean [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

El Universal [Caracas]. 20 August 2003. "Estalla explosivo en Primero Justicia." http://www.eluniversal.com/2003/08/20/20284DD.shtml [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

_____. 29 July 2003. María Isabella Salas. "Saboteado foro de Primero Justicia." http://www.eluniversal.com/2003/07/29/29274EE.shtml [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

_____. 7 June 2003. Monica Castro. "Atentaron contra encuentro donde participaba Leopoldo López." http://www.eluniversal.com/2003/06/07/07274CC.shtml [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

_____. 25 May 2002. "Agredido alcalde Leopoldo López en la Universidad de Oriente." http://www.eluniversal.com/2002/05/25/25460CC.shtml [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

_____. 12 April 2002. Juan Francisco Alonso. "Interior del país bajo tensión." http://www.eluniversal.com/2002/04/12/12104AA.shtml [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

Venezuela Analítica [Caracas]. 6 June 2003. "Grupo armado atentó contra Leopoldo López." http://www.analitica.com/va/sintesis/nacionales/6865018.asp [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

The Washington Post. 26 November 2001. Scott Wilson. "Though Poor Remain Loyal, Opposition to Chavez Grows." http://www.rose-hulman.edu/~delacova/venezuela/cumana.htm [Accessed 15 Sept. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted


Attempts to contact the First Justice party in Caracas were unsuccessful.

IRB Databases

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International (AI)

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

El Mundo [Madrid]

Quinto Día [Caracas]

El Universal [Caracas]

Venezuela Analítica [Caracas]

Vheadline [Caracas]