Yibram Saab sent a clear message to his father, Venezuela’s human rights ombudsman: “Do what you are supposed to do.”
Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, a top government official, investigates alleged civil and human rights abuses against Venezuelans.
Opposition groups attempted to meet outside Saab’s office for the eighth time since April 2, but were met with tear gas and pellets from police and military personnel.
Civil unrest continues to rock the streets as the death toll in relation to protests rises: 13 since April 2. The latest victim, 20-year-old Juan Pablo Pernalete, died during protests in Caracas’ Altamira neighborhood.
The younger Saab recorded his message on Wednesday night.
A voice off camera asks Yibram Saab, dressed in a plain white shirt, whether he’s ready. He nods, firmly grasps the paper his prepared remarks are printed on, and begins.
“I condemn the brutal repression by the government’s security forces, which I was victim of today,” said Yibram, his voice unwavering. “As was Juan Pablo Pernalete, 20 years old, a university student, who died because of the terrible and inhumane use of tear gas, after he was hit in his chest.”
According to Venezuela’s Public Ministry, a definitive cause of death has not been determined, although doctors did observe significant internal bleeding in Pernalete’s chest.
Yibram Saab lifts his head from the paper, directly staring into the camera.
“That could have been me,” he states bluntly. Yibram continues, turning attention to his father; “Dad,” again staring directly into the camera.
“At this moment you have the power to put an end to this injustice that has sunk this country,” he says. “I ask you as a son, and in Venezuela’s name which you serve, to reflect and do what you are supposed to do.”
Opposition groups have asked for the disqualification of Venezuela’s Supreme Court judges, which would fall under William Saab’s purview.
“I understand this is not easy,” he finishes. “But it’s the right thing to do.”
The video quickly spread around social media in Venezuela; on YouTube alone, it’s nearing 1 million views.
It also drew criticism from another government scion: Nicolás Maduro Guerra, son of President Nicolás Maduro
He posted a lengthy statement on Twitter, recalling his and Yibram’s childhood and how they played while their fathers worked, and Yibram attending pro-Chavez marches, “defending the human right guaranteed by the Revolution.”
“Your three minutes of fame could have been something different,” said the younger Maduro. “You could have called your dad and listened to him.”
William Saab has spoken out about Pernalete on Twitter, calling his death tragic and promising to hold those accountable.
Before a contested appointment to the ombudsman office, William Saab served as congressman and then governor with the ruling United Socialist Party. He was so aligned with the Chávez government that he was arrested during the 47-hour coup d’état attempt of 2002.
CNN has attempted to contact the elder Saab to respond to the video, but he has been unreachable.
This all occurs amid violence spreading outside of protests; the severe goods shortages causing a rise in looting and gang fights is resulting in even more deaths – 15 so far. The government has been accused of economic mismanagement.
The Venezuelan government continues to block CNN Español’s signal into Venezuela.
CNN’s Claudia Dominguez, Natalie Gallon, Kay Guerrero and Fernandez Silva contributed to this report.