Iris Varela

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Varela in 2011.

María Iris Varela Rangel (San Cristobal, Tachira, March 9, 1969) is a Venezuelan leftist politician, activist, criminologist, member of the board of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and Minister of Popular Power for the Prison Service.

Political life[edit]

Varela was a founding member of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement (Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario – 200). She served in the state of Tachira as a coordinator for Fifth Republic Movement, the party founded in 1997 to support the candidacy of former president Hugo Chavez.

On April 21, 2013, Varela was reaffirmed as Minister of Correctional Services for the Bolivaran Government of Venezuela for the government of Nicolas Maduro.[1]

In 2016, Varela was appointed by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro to restructure PSUV in Tachira.[2]

National Assembly of Venezuela[edit]

Iris Varela was elected constituent to the Constituent Assembly in 1999, which was primarily aimed at drafting a new constitution, giving it a social character and including the vision of a participatory and protagonist democracy. Varela promoted the elimination of the Senate, which was adopted.

Thereafter, she was elected deputy to the National Assembly for Tachira state in three consecutive periods: 2000–2005, 2006–2011 and finally from 2011 to 2016.

As deputy to the National Assembly, she served as:

  • Chairman of Regular Commission for the Study of Treaties, Agreements and Conventions Integration (Group of Three, CAN, MERCOSUR, CARICOM, NAFTA , EU, WTO) and FTAA
  • Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee on Domestic Policy, Justice, Human Rights, and Constitutional Guarantees, where she promoted investigations of national importance, including researching conspiracies against the Republic; Extrajudicial State Guarico; the cases of Linda Loaiza and Danilo Anderson (Public Prosecutor); peasant executions, killings and paramilitary groups
  • Coordinator of the Defense Committee of the Organic Act states of emergency
  • Promoter of Public Defense Act
  • Responsible for the Committee on Internal Policy Bill (National Police of Venezuela)
  • Member of the Presidential Commission against the FTAA established by the President in 2002 who advised the National Executive
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas (COPA)
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the Parliamentary Network of Women (Organ attached to COPA)
  • Chairman of the Special Commission to investigate the murders of street people living in Caracas

In July 2011 she was designated Minister of People's Power for the Prison Service by the National Executive, separating from her parliamentary investiture within seven months of being sworn in as deputy for the current legislative period.


Varela was criticized for her use of profanity,[3] and for her alleged relationship with the late Venezuelan criminal Teofilo Rodriguez Cazorla, better known as "El Conejo".[4]

During the April and May 2017 peaceful protests, she condoned and pushed for police violence against protestors.[citation needed]


Varela has been sanctioned by several countries and is banned from entering neighboring Colombia. The Colombian government maintains a list of people banned from entering Colombia or subject to expulsion; as of January 2019, the list had 200 people with a "close relationship and support for the Nicolás Maduro regime".[5][6]

On 26 July 2017, Varela was involved in targeted sanctions performed by the United States Department of Treasury due to her involvement with the 2017 Venezuelan Constituent Assembly election, being a member of Venezuela's Presidential Commission for the Constituent Assembly.[7]

Months later on 22 September 2017, Canada sanctioned Varela due to rupture of Venezuela's constitutional order.[8][9]

On 29 March 2018, Varela was sanctioned by the Panamanian government for her alleged involvement with "money laundering, financing of terrorism and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction".[10]

Arrest of Juan Requesens[edit]

On August 12, in response to Venezuelans growing increasingly concerned with the economy of the nation, Iris Varela sent a tweet telling people that all they need to do is share with friends and that they shouldn't speculate or doubt, otherwise "they will end up worse off than Requesens, [where] they aren't able to speculate". This tweet immediately became highly controversial, and was denounced as inhumane, for using the incarceration of Requesens as either a joke or a threat, especially by the woman in charge of his conditions in prison.[11][failed verification]


  1. ^ "New cabinet ratifies seventeen Maduro nombres". April 22, 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Designó Nicolás Maduro a Iris Varela para reestructurar al Psuv en Táchira". La Nación. February 1, 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Iris Varela in the National Assembly".
  4. ^ Iris Varela finally spoke about her relationship with "El Conejo"
  5. ^ "Maduro encabeza lista de 200 venezolanos que no pueden entrar al país" [Maduro tops list of 200 Venezuelans who can not enter the country]. El Tiempo (in Spanish). 30 January 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Primera parte de lista de colaboradores de Maduro que no pueden ingresar a Colombia" [First part of list of Maduro collaborators who can not enter Colombia] (in Spanish). RCN Radio. 31 January 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Venezuela-related Designations". United States Department of Treasury. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Venezuela sanctions". Government of Canada. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  9. ^ "Canada sanctions 40 Venezuelans with links to political, economic crisis". The Globe and Mail. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Estos son los 55 "rojitos" que Panamá puso en la mira por fondos dudosos | El Cooperante". El Cooperante (in Spanish). 2018-03-29. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  11. ^ "Inhumano tuit de Iris Varela sobre Requesens causó polémica en redes" [Inhumane tweet from Iris Varela about Requesens causes outrage on social media]. Venezuela al día (in Spanish). Retrieved August 26, 2018.