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.
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.
In 2016, Varela was appointed by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro to restructure PSUV in Tachira.
National Assembly of Venezuela
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 it is designated Minister of People's Power for the Prison Service by the National Executive, separating from his parliamentary investiture only seven (7) months of being sworn in as deputy for the current legislative period.
Varela was criticized for her use of profanity, and for her alleged friendship with the late Venezuelan criminal Teofilo Rodriguez Cazorla, better known as "El Conejo".