Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hugo Chavez calls using twitter "terrorism"

Hugo Chavez calls using Twitter “terrorism”
January 27, 2010

For a man intent into taking Venezuelan into the Dark Ages, it was a remarkable admission that modernity can be a threat to Hugo Chavez and his fake revolution. As students used the Internet and its tools like Twitter as wel as other modern tools like SMS messaging to mobilize and communicate strategy instantly, Hugo Chavez made his second attack on the Internet in a single week, calling the rumors and use of this technology “terrorism”:

A week ago Chavez had said that his supporters had to watch out for the Internet and tonight he came on TV wearing a suit, rather than his usual red garb and began reading messages (which were too long to be from Twitter), calling it terrorism (right at the end, minute 3:50 or so)

Can Chavez really expect that his trusted friend and confidant resigns as Vice-President and Minister of Defense for “personal reasons” (and his wife as Minister of the Environment) and there will be no rumors?

Chavez repeated again his wish, which the opposition has paid absolutely no attention to, that to get rid of him his opponents had to call for a recall referendum, a tool that would not only be distracting, but quite difficult to achieve as the recall votes would have to exceed the number of votes he got in his Presidential reelection in 2006. (Chavez has made such a call four times in the last three weeks and seems frustrated by the lack of even a response) This would be difficult given the resources of the Government as well as the difficulty of mobilizing the voters at this time. The opposition wants to concentrate in the legislative elections in September, letting Chavez ride the harvest of his own incompetence until 2012 when his term expires.

The truth is that it is the Government has the weapons in this fight and is the one that has sponsored the violence against the students, who in turn have managed to use peaceful means to stop the violence like today at Government’s TV station VTV. But it was the Tupamaros who caused most of the violence in Merida, aided by the local law enforcement agencies. And it was Chavez who was seen mingling with Lina Ron in his Saturday rally, a woman that has led armed attacks on marches and was imprisoned in January 2009 for leading a violent attack against Globovision. Chavez can’t attack the opposition on the protests as the students have led the protests and do not respond to the political leaders of the opposition parties.

In the end it is ironic how Chavez evokes the fundamentalism of his Iranians buddies, who have also referred to the Internet and Twitter as terrorists, which is mocked in this hilarious cartoon below:

But in the end, besides feeling the threat from a weapon Chavez does not control or understand totally, maybe his key problem is that he could never make adequate use of it. For a man accustomed to uninterrupted speeches of six to eight hours, it must be simply impossible to even consider the possibility of communicating anything in 140 characters.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

US condemns Cuba over blogger beatings

US condemns Cuba over blogger beatings
(AFP) – 2 hours ago

WASHINGTON — The United States said it "strongly deplores" the forcible detention and beating last week of three Cuban bloggers on their way to a peaceful march in Havana.

Award-winning blogger Yoani Sanchez, whose online reports chronicle the dark side of everyday life in communist Cuba, was detained and beaten along with two fellow bloggers by Cuban secret police on November 6.

"We have expressed to the Cuban government our deep concern with the assaults," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement.

"The US government strongly deplores the assault on bloggers Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Claudia Cadelo.

Sanchez, who writes the blog "Generation Y," told AFP last week: "(The government agents) beat me and then they shoved me into a car head first. They did not give me any explanation at any time, but it is clear their goal was to stop us from taking part in the march."

Three agents in street clothes had snatched them off the street in the Havana district of Vedado.

Sanchez, winner of the Maria Moors Cabot 2009 award and Ortega y Gasset Prize awarded by Madrid's El Pais newspaper, said she was not seriously injured and was released half an hour after the arrest.

"Clearly, the beating hurts even more a day later; I am still really affected by all of this, but it is not going to stop me from writing my blog," she added.

Kelly said the United States called on Cuba "to ensure the full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens."

Washington has repeatedly urged action by Cuba to move forward on free speech and greater respect for human rights before lifting the US embargo on the island.

Cuban authorities say Sanchez and all other political dissidents are "mercenaries" in the pay of the United States and other western countries.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Press Violations - Venezuela


Report to the Midyear Meeting
Caracas, Venezuela
March 28 - 30, 2008

The previous report noted that Venezuelans were strongly opposed to a package of constitutional amendments proposed by President Hugo Chávez as a way of perpetuating his hold on power.
The report denounced the government’s intentions to get rid of the independent media, assault and intimidate journalists, eliminate freedom of speech, and undermine the right to inform and be informed.
In a referendum held on December 2, 2007, the majority of the Venezuelan people decisively rejected the proposed constitutional change — and along with it the government’s authoritarian policies and its attempt to remove all term limits on the presidency.
Nevertheless, the president’s control of all three branches of government has led to troubling interpretations of the Constitution, such as Ruling 1013 of 2001 (curtailing freedom of speech) and Ruling 1942 of 2003 (denying the validity of international human rights accords).
The Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, which was passed a few years ago, allows the government to control the content of broadcast media outlets.
The Venezuelan Penal Code has been amended five times in the past seven years. Previous reports submitted to the IAPA by Venezuela, including at the latest General Assembly, denounced the fact that these amendments make it a crime to be a dissident or to “insult” government officials, as this is a serious threat to freedom of speech. A few days ago, the regime proposed amendments to 22 additional articles in the code.
In early 2007 the National Assembly passed what is known as an “enabling law,” valid for up to 18 months, which grants the president legislative powers on certain matters and allows him to pass laws by decree.
Even though his package of proposed constitutional amendments was defeated on December 2, President Chávez indicates he intends to decree measures into law that were rejected by the people in the referendum.
The Casa Arturo Uslar Pietri Foundation obtained some documents used in the Ministry of Education’s curriculum for Venezuelan teachers, which define a basic pillar of the government’s entire education system as “the recognition of accurate, timely reporting from the alternative and mass media, which are tools for reinforcing a proactive, participatory democracy in which all of society is involved.”
According to the foundation’s specialists, “this lamentable dogma imposed by the government on the educational system is at the core of education from preschool through high school, and this obviously damages our youth by attempting to discredit freedom of speech and envelop our future society in a terrible silence.”
May 27 will mark one year since Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) was shut down and its broadcasting equipment seized by the government. The president had announced his politically motivated decision to shut down RCTV, the free, over-the-air broadcast station that was the country’s longest-running and most widely viewed channel. This closure was opposed by the vast majority of the Venezuelan people.
Meanwhile, we continue to see court cases and rulings, administrative penalties pursued by the regime, and harassment targeting the Globovisión news channel.
Failure to provide foreign currency in a timely manner for the importation of newsprint has been a persistent problem, even though newspapers are legally entitled to it under the exchange control system. This is jeopardizing the newspapers’ circulation.
The Chávez administration has repeatedly refused to disclose information to media outlets not under his control. Independent journalists are also denied access to government sources and events controlled by government entities.
The administration resorts to the reprehensible method of discriminating in the placement of its large volume of advertising as a way of pressuring and penalizing self-respecting media outlets that do not engage in self-censorship. Media outlets that unconditionally support the government are lavished with funds, as a way of bolstering what the regime describes as “the entire communications apparatus of the revolutionary process.”
Another clear case of discrimination concerns advertising by Venezuela’s largest communications company, CanTV, and its cellular phone subsidiary, Movilnet, both of which were nationalized last year by the Chávez administration. For years these companies had advertised heavily in the newspaper Correo del Caroní. But with the precision that typifies the regime’s threats and attacks, all advertising from these companies ceased the day after they were nationalized. Other media outlets, especially those controlled by the government, ran large color ads that day with the telling slogan, “Ahora CanTV es de todos” (“CanTV belongs to everyone now”).
The government now controls 85% of all television stations, 3,000 community radio stations, and 100 Web sites, according to a study directed by Adolfo Herrera, dean of the School of Communications at the Central University of Venezuela.
Last year the Ministry of Communication and Information spent 3,465,000 bolívares to “strengthen alternative and community media outlets,” more than 1.5 million bolívares on equipment and accessories, and 152 million bolívares on “training for Venezuelan professionals by Cuban experts.”
Communications specialists said in February that “the government’s takeover of the media to further its authoritarian political aims, the reduction of space for expressing a variety of ideas, and multiple restrictions on free speech are just some of the steps taken by the executive branch in the field of communications during the first nine years of the rule of Hugo Chávez.”
According to a research study by the Commission on Political Participation and Election Campaign Financing, 69% of all programming on government-controlled radio and television stations prior to the December 2 referendum was in favor of the constitutional amendments proposed by the Chávez regime.
Other significant developments:
Acts of judicial terrorism against journalists —
through lawsuits, prosecution and persecution — have aroused even more anger and made professionals even more determined to uphold their commitment to inform, investigate and denounce.
On November 4, 2005, journalist Patricia Poleo was ordered to be taken into custody for allegedly “masterminding” the killing of a prosecutor. Under the charges Poleo would have been forced to remain in jail while the case was under investigation. She was convinced by her friends and colleagues to leave the country to escape torture, pressures and abuses.
The government’s supporters — some out of conviction, others for convenience — devote themselves to denying the truth, concealing actual events, and attempting to break the ethical resistance of honest journalists and media outlets, in order to keep unfiltered news from reaching the people and to keep the people from realizing the historical failure of totalitarianism.
The National Union of Press Workers issued a statement on February 28 expressing its “condemnation and rejection of the flagrant harassment of media outlets and their employees by pro-government forces.”
Journalists Beatriz Adrián and Diana Carolina Ruiz of Globovisión and Francia Sánchez of RCTV Internacional were assaulted on October 16, 2007, while covering a session of the National Assembly at the Teresa Carreño Theater.
On November 11, 2007, reporter Jorge Eliécer Patiño and photographer Luis Barrios of the newspaper Diario de los Llanos in the state of Barinas were beaten by police while covering a demonstration at a university.
Police officers and civilians assaulted journalist Elvis Rivas of RCTV Internacional during a student protest in the state of Mérida on November 9.
Gustavo Azócar, a journalist and on-air host for Televisora Regional del Táchira, was assaulted on camera during his morning program on November 20 by a ruling-party member of the National Assembly.
News photographer José Cohen suffered a head wound while covering a peaceful student demonstration that was repressed by the Metropolitan Police and the National Guard on November 29. Cohen received 10 stitches for the wound.
On December 5, President Chávez called Hernán Lugo García, a reporter for El Nacional newspaper, “excrement” for his article on Chávez’s defeat in the referendum.
Cameraman Carlos Toro was hit and assistant Larry Arvelo suffered bruises and injuries caused by police while covering an accident for Globovisión

Pro-government activists attacked journalist Ramón Antonio Pérez during a rally of the Copei party in Plaza Bolivar in Caracas.

A pro-government group assaulted journalist Hugo Morales who was taking pictures of attacks on university students on January 22, 2008.

Journalist María Teresa Guedez of the daily La Calle, photographer Clemente Espinoza, of the daily El Carabobeño, and the cameraman of RCTV Internacional were injured when violent pro-government groups entered and destroyed the Carabobo state Legislative Council on February 12 of this year.

The wife of journalist José Rafael Ramírez announced that she was on a hunger strike on February 14 and chained herself to the courthouse doors of Aragua state to protest what she called “judicial abuses” of her husband. Ramírez has been held in La Planta Prison in Caracas for the past month, and during this time he has been on hunger strike. Twice he has been taken to the military hospital in a near-death state, only to be revived with intravenous fluids and returned to prison. This is a violation of his right to remain free while on trial.

Pro-government activists insulted journalist Rafael Fuenmayor of Globovisión and accused him of “destabilizing the Chavez government” because he asked questions that displeased the pro-government group that took over the headquarters of the Caracas archdiocese last February 27.

Journalists were not allowed to attend a regular session of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee on February 29.

Journalists of the major newspapers of Carabobo state were beaten by pro-government groups while covering a meeting to support peace on the 6th of this month in Valencia.

Two journalists of Argentina’s Canal 5, Melina Fleiderman and Andrés Montes de Oca, special correspondents covering the tour of President Cristina Kirchner, were detained by the National Guard near Miraflores Palace when they tried to record a demonstration against Chávez nearby.

The National Press Workers Union says: “It is increasingly difficult for private sector journalists to do their work within a framework of respect for their work and within ethical and professional parameters. In a good number of agencies the immediate supervisors of the press secretaries are military personnel who do not know the basic principles of the practice of journalism, neither the law, nor the Code of Ethics. When they have objections they take reprisals.”

On May 27, the government closed down RCTV television and used military force to seize its offices and transmission equipment.

The television company has taken various legal actions, but none has had a favorable result.

On March 26, the Political-Administrative Branch of the Supreme Court denied RCTV’s request on November 29, 2007 for an injunction which would have allowed it to return to over-the-air broadcasting.,

RCTV said that the procedural technicalities cited in the decision not to consider the allegations in its petition were not applicable in that case, and said it regretted “that the Supreme Court has once again lost the opportunity to repair the serious damage that taking our channel off the air has done to the Venezuelan people.”

RCTV explained that this was not the definitive ruing in the case and said it will continue its effort to have the Supreme Court’s final decision reestablish the rule of law and restore on-the-air broadcasting to the channel.

The news channel Globovisión still faces lawsuits, more administrative sanctions and other harassment by the regime.

The chief of state has insulted and threatened Globovisión.

The government continues to systematically deny the possibility of expanding to on-air broadcasting in an effort to try to restrict the spread of its messages, news and free opinion.

The general director of the channel, Alberto Federico Ravell, said in October of 2007 the suspension ordered by the National Electoral Council of some brief reports about a constitutional amendment that the council thought might cause “electoral abstention” was censorship.

On January 31, Globovisión rejected a demand by the government agency Conatel against brief testimonial reports called “You Saw It,” which the government did not like.

Globovisión reported on February 8 that it was harassed by SENIAT. Officials showed up unannounced in the afternoon demanding that books be handed over immediately and requesting extensive tax information.

The Media Committee of the National Assembly said it “supports all legal actions that social and political organizations take against Globovisión.”

On February 11, with the slogan, “Now it is Globovisión’s turn,” pro-government individuals asked the national Attorney General’s Office to investigate the channel, allegedly for “offending Chávez and distorting news.” Three days later, pro-Chávez groups gathered outside Globovisión to protest news they said was against President Chávez, and painted graffiti attacking the channel’s executives.

On February 16, Globovisión complained to the Public Prosecutor’s Office about attacks by pro-government individuals against it.

The Communications and Information Ministry urged Globovisión on February 19 to “respect the president and the people,” saying the government does not intend to close the channel.

Pro-Chávez activist leaders declared that Globovisión was “a target of the revolution,” and asserted that “anyone can decide to place a bomb at Globovisión.” On the same day, February 27, they held a protest vigil in front of the station and painted slogans on its walls.

Two days later, the assembly of the government party considered actions against Globovisión, and proposed revoking its license.

On February 4, the interior and justice minister accused the Venezuelan media of “collaborating with the enemy” and committing “treason to the homeland” by reporting about the movement of tanks and troops toward the Colombian border which the president had ordered publicly on television.

In addition, on November 28, the Venezuelan Press Bloc issued a statement reporting a serious delay by the currency exchange control agency, CADIVI, in delivering foreign currency to pay providers of newsprint abroad.

The daily Correo de Caroni did not circulate for three days beginning December 12 because it did not receive newsprint from its supplier, the DIPALCA company. The government had not delivered the foreign currency in time.

The publisher of the daily El Regional of Zulia, Gilberto Urdaneta, also reported that his newspaper had enough newsprint for only 22 days for the same reason.

The newspapers El Impulso, Nuevo País, the magazine Zeta and other publications reported on that date that inventories of newsprint were low, which threatens their circulation in the short term, because of government delays in releasing controlled currencies.

Venezuelan newspapers live in uncertainty about the stock of newsprint and other supplies for the press that are not made in the country, since imports must be authorized by the government office that controls currency exchange.

On February 11, the Carabobo state culture secretary threatened the dailies El Carabobeño and Noti-Tarde with bombings, saying that they should “see themselves in the mirror of RCTV and Globovisión.” The official threatened that they could “see their doors close,” adding that they should “be very careful with what you publish tomorrow.”

This violent warning from the government was a reaction to the companies’ support for the “Arturo Michelena” art biennial which traditionally has been sponsored for many years by the Valencia Ateneo.

The administration considers free cultural activities contradictory to the political and ideological action the Chávez government promotes.

After this report was presented at the Midyear Meeting, Marcos Hernández, president of the Venezuelan pro-government NGO Journalists for the Truth, threatened to initiate a court case against the Venezuelan Press Bloc for having said that it would attempt to regain RCTV’s frequency. He also threatened the IAPA gathering, saying that if Venezuela is attacked at this meeting “we’ll know what to do.”

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Empower democracy, rein in tyrants

Empower democracy, rein in tyrants
Sunday marked the conclusion of the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. This meeting could have offered a valuable opportunity to stand up to the region's despotic leaders who claim that their radical visions -- rather than the voice of the people -- should usher in a new age in our hemisphere. It could have offered an opportunity to move forward on further agreements toward the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. But that was not to be.
With U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set to appear before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, it is critical that we press for the United States to advance a vigorous agenda that reflects America's long standing commitment to freedom and democracy as the bedrock of our policy in Latin America.
Democratic institutions in the hemisphere are under increasing assault from internal and external actors. Nicaragua's November municipal elections were widely recognized as illegitimate. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez has moved beyond attacks on property rights and freedom of press to an explicit and concerted campaign against his opposition. Bolivia and Ecuador have resumed their baseless accusations against the United States and continue to advance their authoritarian agendas.
Preying on the anti-American and anti-democratic sentiment promoted by the regimes of these countries, a realignment is taking place with rogue regimes such as Iran and Cuba. Using Chávez as his personal broker, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has joined forces with several of the above-mentioned countries to denounce U.S. democratic standards and threaten regional security objectives.
This planned assault on core democratic values and free market principles continued at the summit. Even responsible nations failed to counter the paltry moral equivalency arguments raised by repressive leaders and their enablers.
In fact, the summit discussions remind me of the farcical Durban 2 Conference taking place this week in Geneva. These forums have been hijacked by repressors, tyrants and regime leaders who deprecate democratic principles and ideals.
Several countries in the region used the summit to advocate, not for the rights of the Cuban people, but for the Cuban regime's undeserved return to the inter-American system. But the United States must not allow the picture of this hemisphere to be painted by those who despise liberty, nor by those who wish and work to do us harm. Rather, we must stand up for freedom and make support for our democratic allies the central tenet of our policy in the Western Hemisphere.
Security issues throughout the region are having a direct impact on the ability of responsible nations to advance democratic principles. From narcotrafficking to organized crime, Islamic radicals to the FARC in Colombia, and the influence of tyrannical regimes from Iran to Syria, the hemisphere is in critical need of a comprehensive model of partnership and responsibility that binds leaders to the obligations outlined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter and other such accords.
The United States must not falter in our expectation that countries we work with adhere to these values. Programs like the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compacts should be leveraged to ensure Americans are getting a return on our investments in the hemisphere.
In the aftermath of the summit, it will be up to Secretary Clinton to implement the U.S. agenda and up to the Congress to decide where taxpayer funds are most needed. With great economic challenges at home, we must ensure that our resources are focused on strengthening, supporting and empowering our democratic allies, rather than wasted on efforts that only benefit tyrants and oppressors.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Insulza Allows Human Rights Violations - HRF

Completly agree with this statement: Insulza allows Human Rights Violations
vdebate reporter
OAS Head Faulted for Inaction
Insulza Allows Human Rights Violations, Says HRF

NEW YORK (August 20, 2008) —The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) launches the “Inter-American Democratic Charter and Mr. Insulza” program today with an open letter to José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), decrying his unwillingness to enforce the charter’s mandate to protect democracy in the Americas. HRF will send monthly digests to Insulza detailing violations of human rights and democracy in the continent, with the hope that the secretary general will take note and do his job.

The letter, cosigned by HRF President Thor Halvorssen and Chairman Armando Valladares, observes that under Insulza’s watch at the OAS, the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela have acted in clear violation of the democratic principles set forth in the Charter.

Such violations include infringements on fundamental rights, ranging from freedom of the press and expression to freedom from torture and tyranny – the shutting down of an independent television station in Venezuela and the recent state take-over of media in Ecuador; the government-sanctioned lynchings and political violence that have resulted in 40 deaths in Bolivia; the obliteration of judicial independence in Venezuela and Bolivia and the dissolution of the congress in Ecuador; and political persecution in all three countries.

The letter reminds Insulza that on September 11, 2001, every nation in the Americas approved the Inter-American Democratic Charter, a document that recognizes the need to defend democracy not only from unelected dictatorships but also from popularly-elected governments on the continent. The democratic clause found in Article 20 of the charter establishes a formal response mechanism that the OAS secretary general may initiate when democracy in a member state is under threat.

“Despite clear transgressions of the charter by the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, the secretary general of the OAS has failed to implement the democratic clause. HRF is categorical in its belief that Mr. Insulza should fulfill his duties as secretary general. We will continue to campaign until he protects human rights and democracy in the Americas from all types of violators, whether elected or not,” said Javier El-Hage, HRF’s General Counsel.

HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.


Contact: Thor Halvorssen, Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246.8486,
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