Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is silence consent? The Obama administrations engagement policy is convenient for Hugo Chavez's lates crackdown

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people- but the silence over that by the good people.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (American Baptist Minister and Civil-Rights Leader. 1929-1968)
Is Silence Consent? The Obama administration's 'engagement' policy is convenient for Hugo Chávez's latest crackdown.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

WHILE THE United States and Venezuela's neighbors silently stand by, Hugo Chávez's campaign to destroy his remaining domestic opposition continues. On Thursday night state intelligence police raided the Caracas offices of Guillermo Zuloaga, the president of the country's last independent broadcast network, Globovision. They claimed to be looking for evidence of irregularities in the car dealership that Mr. Zuloaga also runs. In fact this was a thinly disguised escalation of an attack that Mr. Chávez launched this month against Globovision. The channel has been officially accused of "inciting panic," based on its accurate reporting of a mild May 4 earthquake in Caracas; under the regime's draconian media control law it could be shut down. Few doubt that that is Mr. Chávez's intent: Two years ago he revoked the license of the country's most popular television network after a similarly trumped-up campaign.

To recap: In February Mr. Chávez eliminated the limit on his tenure as president after a one-sided referendum campaign that included ugly attacks on Venezuela's Jewish community. Since then he has imprisoned or orchestrated investigations against most of the country's leading opposition figures, including three of the five opposition governors elected last year. The elected mayor of Maracaibo, who was the leading opposition candidate when Mr. Chávez last ran for president, was granted asylum in Peru last month after authorities sought his arrest on dubious tax charges. The National Assembly, controlled by Mr. Chávez, is considering legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining and replace independent trade unions with "worker's councils" controlled by the ruling party. Another new law would eliminate foreign financing for independent non-government groups.

This is hardly the first time that a Latin American caudillo has tried to eliminate peaceful opponents: Mr. Chávez is following a path well worn by the likes of Juan Perón and Alberto Fujimori -- not to mention his mentor, Fidel Castro. But this may be the first time that the United States has watched the systematic destruction of a Latin American democracy in silence. As Mr. Chávez has implemented the "third phase" of his self-styled revolution, the Obama administration has persisted with the policy of quiet engagement that the president promised before taking office.

"We need to find a space in which we can actually have a conversation, and we need to find ways to enhance our levels of confidence," Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. said two weeks ago, echoing earlier remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. We have no objection to dialogue with Mr. Chávez. But isn't it time to start talking about preserving independent television stations, opposition political leaders, trade unions and human rights groups -- before it is too late?

© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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The Cuba Embargo

The Cuban Embargo

The Cuban regime is buying hundreds of millions of dollars of agricultural products and medicines in the United States, but they have to pay for them up front (NO CREDIT).
There is no embargo from Spain, France, Canada, Mexico, China, or Russia just to mention a few countries. The Cuban dictators can buy anything they want, but they are not paying and their credit is no good. The problem with the Castro Brothers is MONEY. They want to buy, but not to pay. They want us, taxpayers, to subsidize their subversion and espionage all over the world.

Why do we complain about Francisco Franco being a military dictator in Spain for years?
Why do we judge Augusto Pinochet for his war crimes?
Why do we complain about Somoza in Nicaragua?
Why do we call Trujillo a criminal or assassin?
Why we don’t do the same with Comandante Fidel Castro or General Raul Castro?

Eleno O. Oviedo
Plantados until Freedom and Democracy in Cuba
Former Political Prisoner for 26 years in Cuba.
Abducted from a British Territory in 1963

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Hugo Chavez threatens to take opposition TV station off air

What is happening in Venezuela is sad....... and there are few International institutions saying anything against the Venezuelan Government (Hugo Chavez) abuse, specially the OAS which was the reason that institution was founded.
Anyway, we the Venezuelans should be proud to have this TV station Globovision that has defended bravely our Venezuelans constitution rights.
vdebate reporter.
Federico Ravell - President of Globovision

President Hugo Chavez has threatened to take Venezuela's last major opposition-run television station off the air.

By Jeremy McDermott, Latin America Correspondent

The latest move to undermine opponents of the Leftist leader was made amid a frenetic campaign to seize control of privately held businesses, with his government running short of funds due to the fall in world oil prices.
Nicolas Maduro, the president of the Mr Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela, accused the 24-hour news channel Globovision of "media terrorism", describing the station and its director, Alberto Ravell, as "violators of the constitution and of the rights of Venezuelans" as well as being "anti-democratic, failed and fascist".
The allegations are denied by the station. Mr Ravell said that the government investigation was "laughable" and meant to intimidate the media.
The government has already refused to renew the licence of one opposition media network.
The attack on the independent media is just the latest sign that Mr Chavez's democratically elected government is turning ever more authoritarian as it seeks to sustain its generous social programmes and aggressive foreign policy.
On Friday Mr Chavez sent troops to seize the operations of foreign-owned oil service companies, tightening his grip on the industry as low crude prices pinch the Opec nation's finances.
"We have started to nationalise all these activities connected to oil exploitation," he said from on board a confiscated boat. "This is a revolutionary offensive."
Human rights groups and political think tanks are also under assault, with the national assembly, which is controlled by Chavez loyalists, due to pass legislation aimed at controlling their finances.
Under the new law, all funding will pass through a central account managed by the government.
The director of perhaps the most outspoken opposition organisation, Sumate, said that the measure was an attempt to shut down government critics.
"This is a mechanism to silence voices that have great credibility within and outside the country," said Mari­a Corina Machado.
Mr Chavez's leading political opponent, Manuel Rosales, who challenged him for the presidency in 2006, has meanwhile fled to Peru where he has been granted asylum, after being charged with corruption at home.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chavez Seizes Assets of Oil Contractor

Chávez Seizes Assets of Oil Contractor

Published: May 8, 2009
CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez asserted greater control over the country’s energy industry on Friday by seizing the assets of some foreign and domestic oil contractors while his government grapples with a sharp decline in oil revenue and mounting debts.

Carlos Sosa
Venezuelan soldiers at an event presided over by President Hugo Chávez on Friday celebrating the seizure of contractors’ assets. The seizures took place largely in Zulia State in the west.
The move points to a greater concentration of power by Mr. Chávez, who is busily exerting sway over important industries and political institutions during the economic crisis. In recent weeks, his government has also hounded top rivals, stripping the mayor of Caracas of financing for the city budget while forcing the mayor of Maracaibo to seek asylum in Peru after he was confronted with corruption charges.
The move by Mr. Chávez on Friday also raises concern about Venezuela’s ability to increase its declining oil production at a time of low oil prices. The national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, hired the contractors to help it produce oil by operating drilling rigs, using technology to extract oil from aging wells or moving personnel or equipment on boats.
Venezuela, which relies on oil for about 93 percent of its export earnings, has not paid some of the oil contactors since late last year, according to filings by companies like Williams Companies, based in Tulsa, Okla., which said last month that it did not expect to receive $241 million it was owed here. Petróleos de Venezuela had been seeking a reduction of about 40 percent in its overall debt to the companies, which is estimated by industry analysts to be about $10 billion.
Our “people will never again be anyone’s slave,” Mr. Chávez said Friday.
Industry representatives in the oil-producing state of Zulia said uniformed soldiers had begun occupying oil installations on Thursday, shortly before the National Assembly approved a measure allowing the takeovers. The move deepens Mr. Chávez’s control of the oil industry, following the imposition of higher royalties on foreign oil companies, raids on their offices by tax authorities and the nationalization of large oil-producing projects in recent years.
In other countries, national oil companies have been trying to negotiate better terms with contractors since prices plunged with the onset of the global financial crisis. But Mr. Chávez’s move marks an aggressive turn in such negotiations, highlighting the risks that many energy companies face in doing business in Venezuela.
Some foreign companies began shutting down their drilling rigs earlier this year when it became apparent they would not get paid by Petróleos de Venezuela. Helmerich & Payne, a drilling company based in Tulsa, has told investors that it stands to lose $116 million because of unpaid bills by Petróleos de Venezuela.
Particularly for large oil-services companies, like Schlumberger or Halliburton, opportunities still exist in Venezuela, where they have carved out a presence that has spanned decades. It was not immediately clear whether they could remain as minority partners with Petróleos de Venezuela or continue talks over debts they hoped to collect.
For the time being, Mr. Chávez’s government said it would expropriate at least 13 drilling rigs, 39 oil terminals and about 300 boats used in waters and land around Lake Maracaibo in western Venezuela. Still, industry leaders said the scope of the expropriations could easily be widened. Cathy Mann, a spokeswoman for Halliburton declined to comment on whether the company would be affected.
Despite the abrupt shifts in energy policy here, large oil companies like Chevron and Total of France have tried to maintain their business activities in the country, attracted by its sizable oil reserves. Unlike some other major oil countries, like Saudi Arabia or Mexico, Venezuela still allows foreign companies to be minority partners in nationalized oil fields.
In an attempt to increase production, Venezuela has recently been soliciting bids from private oil companies in the West, as well as from state-controlled Chinese and Russian companies, for new oil projects capable of producing up to 1.2 million barrels of oil a day. The bidding has been delayed this year, but it is scheduled to begin here in late July.
“For those thinking about bidding, the action against the contractors is another reminder of how unsettling the environment in Venezuela can be,” said RoseAnne Franco, lead analyst for Latin America at PFC Energy, a company in Washington.
While the new projects up for bid would be assembled in the Orinoco Belt, an area with an enormous hydrocarbon reserve in southern Venezuela, the seizure of the contractors’ assets on Friday took place largely in Zulia, in western Venezuela, where some of the country’s oldest oil wells are located.
Zulia is also a bastion of opposition to Mr. Chávez. Resentment has been festering against the president there since corruption charges were brought against Manuel Rosales, a leading opposition figure who ran against Mr. Chávez for president in 2006 and was elected mayor of Maracaibo last year. Mr. Rosales fled to Peru last month rather than submit to an order for his arrest to face corruption charges.
Mr. Chávez will expand his power in Zulia with the takeover of the contractors by his loyalists, but it is a move that could heighten tension in one of the most strategically important states.
“They want to come for all of Zulia,” said Néstor Borjas, a leader in Fedecámaras, a regional business association in western Venezuela.
“They come with their soldiers from the National Guard, and they take what they want,” he said, “and you, as the owner of your company, can do absolutely nothing.”
María Eugenia Díaz contributed reporting from Caracas, and Jad Mouawad from New York.

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Director of news channel: "We are a pain in Chávez's neck"

Director of news channel: "We are a pain in Chávez's neck"
Alberto Federico Ravell

"I do think that Globovisión faces the risk to be closed. (President Hugo) Chávez has insisted that he is ready to do so (...) We know that we are a pain in Chávez's neck because we are the only channel with an open signal that tells truths. But we are not a political party. Our mission is to inform people."
Without mentioning his name, Hugo Chávez called the director of Globovisión "a crazy man with a cannon"
President Hugo Chávez's threats against the private TV news channel Globovisión "must be taken seriously" because "there is a risk that the government closes our TV channel," said Alberto Federico Ravell, the director of the TV network, who believes that his only sin is "to inform without flattering" the regime. "I do consider that Globovisión faces the risk to be closed. Chávez has insisted that he is willing to do so. I think that there is an ongoing legal proceeding and that the President is very upset with his staff because they did not react in time to settle the issue," Ravell said in an interview with AFP. Last Sunday, Chávez blamed local private radio and TV stations of "inciting hatred" and "manipulating" the news. He recalled that the government has the power to renew broadcasters' licenses to use public airwaves. Without mentioning his name, Chávez called the director of Globovisión "a crazy man with a cannon." "I am neither a mad man, nor a conspirator nor an assassin," Ravell said. "We know that we are a pain in Chávez's neck and in the government's neck because we are the only channel with an open signal that tells truths. But we are not a political party. Our mission is to inform people."

(File Photo: Alexis Alemán)
Interior Minister: Some media outlet purports to destabilize the country
Minister Tareck El Aissami regretted that government authorities are "slandered and exposed to ridicule through this particular media outlet"
"For some years, the media, particularly one of them," try to form perceptions "to encourage bloodshed and destabilize the country," said Minister of the Interior and Justice Tareck El Aissami. "It turned out to be a public health issue. It is misleading information, information which creates unrest, restlessness, uncertainty among our people.""That particular media agency plays now the role of spreading terror throughout the national territory," said El Aissami on leaving a forum against illicit drug abuse. He regretted that government authorities are "slandered and exposed to ridicule through this particular media outlet." In addition, he said, when they dare to denounce them and tell the truth about it "devils are unleashed against anybody or any leader who asks for truth and justice." "We know that its role is on the sidewalk of violence, on the side of those who do not have the reason, of those unreasonable people, dimmed by hatred and who intend to end with a liberating, humanist process which supports our president."

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Deterioration in Venezuela

Gustavo Coronel: Venezuela :hot spot in the Caribbean

The process of deterioration in Venezuela has accelerated significantly during the last six months. Venezuelans have shown great patience, often bordering on apathy, but conditions in the country are fast approaching significant turmoil and possible violence. This is happening before the eyes of our hemispheric political leaders.
Although significantly authoritarian from the beginning of his presidency, the performance of President Hugo Chavez during the last months has become one of a dictator: no checks and balances, decisions concentrated in his hands, dissenters persecuted, national assets utilized without accountability and his pretensions of turning Venezuela into another Cuba no longer disguised. He has become a political bulldozer, running over all dissent. Items:
• General Raul Baduel, one of his former Ministers of Defense and now a political dissenter, has been imprisoned on charges of corruption;
• Twelve Caracas police officers accused by the government of shooting against Caracas marchers in April 11, 2002, were given sentences of up to 30 years in prison when, in fact, the shooting was done by snipers under the orders of the Chavez regime, none of whom have ever been charged;
• Mr. Manuel Rosales, Mayor of the city of Maracaibo and one of the most prominent leaders of the opposition, is now in exile in Peru after served an order of arrest on charges of corruption;
• Prominent members of the opposition such as former Mayor of the Chacao District of Caracas, Leopoldo Lopez, have been prevented from running for public office, on vague accusations of corruption;
• Globovision, the last truly independent TV station left in the country after the confiscation of assets and the closing down of Radio Caracas TV, has been served with a notice of suspension. The reason? Informing the Venezuelan public about the earthquake that took place some days ago before the government “officially” aired the information.
• The Mayors and Governors of the opposition, who won their offices through elections, are being openly harassed and their work being made extremely difficult. Mr. Antonio Ledezma, the Mayor of Greater Caracas, was expelled from his headquarters, which were immediately occupied by a puppet “governor” directly named by Chavez. The money that should be sent to these states and mayoralties by the central government is being cut-off. This represents an open violation of the constitution and of the will of the people and has recently been the object of condemnation by the European Parliament.
• The Ateneo de Caracas, one of the oldest cultural centers of the country and a center of perceived opposition to Chavez, has been ordered by the government to evacuate peremptorily the premises they have occupied for long decades. As they have no other place to go this probably means their disappearance.
• The Caracas home of former president and novelist Romulo Gallegos, where the beloved novelist lived for many years, is now partly used as a government food market. A bust of Gallegos has been removed from the presidential palace and replaced with one of mediocre, early XX century dictator Cipriano Castro. Gallego's books have been burned by the thousands by the regime, in a barbaric action copied from Bradbury's “Fahrenheit 451”.
• Petroleos de Venezuela, the state-owned company, has stopped paying many of its contractors. The size of the debt to Tulsa's Williams Companies, Tulsa's Helmerich and Payne, Schlumberger, Halliburton and other companies already amounts to $8-12 billion. While these debts keep mounting, the Chavez regime has simply taken over the assets of some of these companies. Such a move will add about 8,000 new workers to the already adipose payroll of Petroleos de Venezuela, the state- owned Petroleum Company,while leaving about 22,000 others without jobs.
• The May 1st Caracas march against the government was met with tear gas and strong repression by the Chavez-controlled armed forces. In a cynical display Chavez went on TV to accuse the unarmed citizens of “an act of aggression against our armed forces”.
• A new law is now being passed by the Chavez-controlled National Assembly that will make it illegitimate for NGO's to receive foreign financing. Most of these not-for-profit organizations, especially those in the field of human rights, receive help from USA or Europe. The law is clearly targeted against this type of organizations, as Chavez feels that they are strong centers of political opposition.
• In his obsession to break away from all things made in America Chavez bought 53 Russian, Mi, helicopters but forgot that pilots have to be trained before they can fly them. During the last year four have crashed, causing 18 deaths.
The armed forces, an institution that should be the guarantor of democracy seems is under Chavez's political control due to the lavish monetary handouts and privileges received by the military elite. They now salute in Cuban style: “Fatherland, Socialism or Death”.
Chavez's message has become disdainful of legality. Drunk with power he currently leads an offensive against democracy in several of his socialist satellites, mostly Bolivia. He is threatening with leaving the Organization of American States, OAS, although this organization, led by weak-kneed Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, has been criminally tolerant of his undemocratic transgressions.
In shaking his hand U.S. President Obama allowed Chavez to use this gesture to convince his followers that Obama is “his friend” and will let him do as he pleases. The democrats of Venezuela and all Latin America are frustrated by the apparent U.S. lack of will to live up to its democratic values.

Gustavo Coronel is a 28 years oil industry veteran, a member of the first board of directors (1975-1979) of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), author of several books. At the present Coronel is Petroleumworld associate editor and advisor on the opinion and editorial content of the site.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Socialism vs Labour

Sad that my pretty country is destroying by one man: "Hugo Chavez", and the venezuelan citizens against Chavez don't know what else to do......
vdebate reporter
May 7th 2009
Curbing opposition to chavismo
HIS government espouses "21st-century socialism" and claims to stand for the working class. Yet Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, has never been a fan of his country's trade unions. He portrays them as corrupt vestiges of a capitalist past and of the previous political order. Ever since he was first elected, in 1998, he has sought ways to bring them to heel.
Having first tried and failed to take over the main trade-union confederation, he encouraged a pro-government rival. Now he wants to bypass the unions altogether, by establishing in their place "workers' councils" that amount to branches of the ruling Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

A bill in the government-controlled National Assembly would eliminate collective bargaining and give powers in labour matters to the new councils. "The government's policy is the total elimination of the union movement," says Orlando Chirino, a former CHAVISTA who is one of the architects of the Labour Solidarity Movement, a new group which embraces unions from both sides of the country's political divide and which defends union autonomy.

The bill comes hand-in-hand with the slowdown in the economy and a government crackdown on opposition politicians. Its onslaught on the unions, and its refusal to negotiate collective contracts--or to respect them once signed--is meeting resistance. Labour disputes are increasing, from 46 in January, to 59 in February and 113 in March, according to figures compiled by Victorino Marquez, a labour specialist at the Catholic University in Caracas.

With budgets slashed following the fall in the oil price, the government can no longer buy industrial peace. It is starting to resort to force. A strike in the Caracas metro was averted by the threat of military intervention. Mr Chavez called the metro workers "corrupt" for insisting on the implementation of an agreement that had already been signed. According to press reports, dozens of trade unionists are being prosecuted. Their alleged crimes include "subversion" and holding demonstrations in "security zones" such as those around big factories.
Scores have been murdered, in disputes over contracts that mainly involve pro-government unions.

Only about 11% of the workforce belongs to a union. The bedrock of Mr Chavez's support has long lain with non-unionised workers in the vast informal economy. But unionised workers are concentrated in important parts of the economy, including the oil industry and the heavy-industrial centre of Ciudad Guayana in the south-east. Both are in ferment over wage demands. Disputes are also brewing among teachers, health workers and in the electricity industry.

The oil industry could be the biggest flashpoint. The government is refusing to negotiate wages and conditions until the oil workers' federation elects a new leadership in a ballot due later this month.

There are signs that the government wants to delay the vote. The budget of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state-owned oil company, has been slashed by more than half this year. Rafael Ramirez, the energy minister and head of PDVSA, said there would be no pay rise, even though inflation is close to 30%. He later backtracked.

Mr Chavez insists that only the rich will pay the price of the impending recession. But workers are already feeling its effects. The government seems to welcome the looming confrontation with the unions, as an opportunity to crush dissent and take Mr Chavez's "revolution" to the next level. Jorge Giordani, the planning minister, said recently that the inflation rate should not be the main factor in setting the minimum wage. He added that he knew of no example in the world where socialism had been established on the basis of abundance. "Socialism has emerged from scarcity," he declared.

On May Day the politically divided unions staged two separate marches, as they have for the past few years. The non-government march was broken up by police and national-guard troops using tear gas and water-cannon. "There is no socialism without the working class," Mr Chavez told a rival march of his supporters. By fomenting division and repressing dissent, Mr Chavez may succeed in crushing the labour movement. With it would go one of the few remaining institutions of democracy and pluralism in Venezuela. And Mr Giordani may get the chance to implement the socialism of scarcity in what was once the richest country in Latin America.
See this article with graphics and related items at

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Venezuela - GDP - Risk

Venezuela = Ethiopia= 117 Rank

Chavez has taken Venezuela to the floor. In Argentina is better to do Business than Venezuela….. and Venezuela Chavez have given a lot of money to Argentina. We have oil but Chavez hasn't done anything good with it. That is a good reason I don’t like Chavez.
Vdebate reporter
(Business) Country GDP Growth (%) GDP/Capita ($)
1 Denmark 0.3 $38,900
2 United States 1.4 $48,000
3 Canada 0.7 $40,200
4 Singapore 3.0 $52,900
5 New Zealand 0.6 $28,500
6 United Kingdom 1.1 $37,400
7 Sweden 0.9 $39,600

88 Argentina 6.6 $14,500
116 Syria 2.4 $4,900
117 Ethiopia 8.5 $800
117 Venezuela 5.7 $14,000 (with Oil)
119 Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.5 $6,600
120 Nicaragua 2.0 $3,000
121 Cameroon 4.0 $2,400
122 Gambia 4.5 $1,200
123 Tajikistan 4.5 $1,800
124 Bolivia 4.8 $4,700

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...... and the dramatic similarity between the situation in Venezuela and that of countries such as Myanmar, China, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Iran, and Rwanda, where the opposition was exterminated and the media silenced."


Annihilation and lethargy

In these times, with the revival of a blend of dictatorial projects and neo-communism, it is pertinent to recall the physiological experiment called “The Boiled Frog.” If you put a frog in a pan with boiling water, the impact of the heat makes it will jump out immediately to escape the danger zone. But if you put it in a pan with cold water and then put the pan on a heat source that warms the water gradually, the frog will tolerate the gradual increase in heat, until it realizes, too late, that he has neither the energy nor the will to jump out of the pan and save himself.
Like cooking a frog over a low heat, in these ten long years, the Hugo Chávez administration, slowly but surely, has been bringing Venezuelans to the boil as far as their human rights and fundamental freedoms are concerned.
Despite this, there is very little awareness in the population as a whole of how grave this loss of human and constitutional rights is, which will affect everyone one way or another. The degree of people’s lethargy is alarming and their lack of reaction is incomprehensible. Not only that, if this continues, it will, irrevocably, result in the consolidation of a neo-communist, dictatorial state in Venezuela.
Hence the importance of the dossier presented by the lawyer Gonzalo Himiob at the Geneva Human Rights Summit in representation of the NGOs Foro Penal Venezolano, Justicia Libre, and VIVE.
In his paper “New forms of intolerance: the Judicial System and Political Persecution in Venezuela,” Himiob sums up the most emblematic cases of politically motivated judicial persecution in Venezuela.
These cases include those of General Francisco Usón, the first “opinion prisoner,” who was imprisoned for three years and is currently on probation; and Captain Otto Gebauer, whose crime was to carry out orders and guard Chávez during his brief stay on La Orchila Island from April 11 to 13, 2002. He also made a special mention of the unjust and disproportionate sentence received by the Metropolitan Police captains Vivas, Forero, and Simonovis and the seven Metropolitan Police officers for their alleged involvement in the incidents of April 2002 inVenezuela.
Other cases documented by Himiob were those of the businessman Eligio Cedeño and the student Nixon Moreno, as well as the criminal investigations opened against former oil workers, members of the student movement, representatives of the media, and members of the political opposition (Leopoldo López, Manuel Rosales, Antonio Ledezma).
Himiob highlighted two facts that caused considerable surprise in this audience of international human rights experts: the level of ignorance of international observers with regard to the grave situation of people who are politically persecuted in Venezuela; and the dramatic similarity between the situation in Venezuela and that of countries such as Myanmar, China, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Iran, and Rwanda, where the opposition was exterminated and the media silenced.

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Lack of Legal Justice in Venezuela



Giving free rein to the lack of legal certainty

Not to mince words, legal certainty simply does not exist in Venezuela.
No law is respected, not even those dreamed up by the government itself; no treaty, agreement or contract is of any use; and the Constitution, now dead-letter, is not worth the paper it is written on.
The present crisis in Venezuela’s democratic institutions stems precisely from this absence of legal certainty and the annihilation of the rule of law. It is in this vacuum that the destruction of the country’s productive apparatus has been hatched; and this is the ground swell that has swept away the political, economic, social, and citizen rights of the Venezuelan people.
Thanks to this disrespect for the law, the practice of enacting tailor-made laws, and the discretional interpretation and enforcement, or not, of agreements and contracts, lawsuits amounting to billions of dollars have been filed with international courts by multinational corporations that, at one time, were contractors of the Venezuelan State.
This situation is also responsible for the lawsuits before international human rights courts for the violation of the human rights of hundreds of Venezuelans.
Spurious trials are mounted to criminalize the dissidence and coups d’état, frustrated assassinations, violations of national sovereignty, tax evasion, and crimes of all and every kind are dreamed up to put members of the opposition or people deemed to be politically incorrect or who are an embarrassment to the government either behind bars or force them into exile.
People’s electoral rights have been violated wholesale: from disregarding the secrecy of the vote (a universal right) to failing to maintain a reliable, auditable electoral roll or curtailing the right to vote, to violating election deadlines and dates, carrying out amendments to the Constitution that break constitutional rules and even suspending, illegally and without consultation, elections to renew the incumbents of elected offices, as in the case of the municipal councils.
On top of that we have the unconstitutional refusal to recognize the people’s wishes expressed at the polls. So it is that Chávez continues imposing a political system that has already been rejected or orders the enactment of a law that turns the Greater Caracas Mayoralty to an empty shell simply because a leader of the democratic alternative won the seat.
The workers, whose defense was, in times gone by, a banner brandished by the government, are also victims of this absence of the rule of law. The government, deliberately and resorting to every kind of ruse, refuses tonegotiate expired collective employment contracts, does not comply with those that are still current, and even reverses acquired workers’ benefits, something that is unconstitutional.
Land, companies, and properties are invaded under Zamoran decrees that arbitrarily ignore ownership right, even though the chain of legitimate ownership going back for generations has been proved.
So, thanks to this practice of consigning the Constitution to oblivion, ignoring or inventing laws, Venezuelans have been stripped of their rights and freedoms and, therefore, of democracy. And that is how the new-style communist dictatorship is being forged.

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Courting Mr Chavez, The Obama administration seeks to please strongman by ignoring his crakdown on domestic opposition

If you don't know Manual Rosales left Venezuela to Peru, because Chavez wants to put him in jail, without having a fair court case.
vdebate reporter
Courting Mr. Chávez
The Obama administration seeks to please a strongman by ignoring his crackdown on domestic opposition.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

ONE OF Venezuela's most important politicians was granted asylum in Peru this week. Manuel Rosales, a former state governor who challenged Hugo Chávez in the 2006 presidential election and won election as mayor of Maracaibo last fall, fled the country to avoid imprisonment. He was being prosecuted on dubious corruption charges; the investigation began only after Mr. Chávez shouted on television that "I'm going to put you in jail, Rosales!" Mr. Rosales is one of at least seven major Chávez opponents, including three of the five opposition state governors, who have been imprisoned or subjected to criminal or tax investigations during the past two months.

It is reasonable to ask how the Obama administration is reacting to this major new campaign against what remains of Venezuela's democracy, especially given the president's friendly handshake with Mr. Chávez at the Summit of the Americas two weeks ago. The answer: It isn't. The administration has maintained a deliberate silence about the persecution of the elected politicians, a dissident former defense minister and a leading journalist. Meanwhile, the State Department is lauding what it calls the "positive development" in U.S.-Venezuelan relations: Mr. Chávez's offer to exchange ambassadors. "We buy a lot of their oil," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. "Let's see if we can begin to turn that relationship."

Ms. Clinton seems to believe that Mr. Chávez's escalating domestic repression shouldn't be an impediment to better relations with the United States -- an attitude in keeping with her already-stated views about such nations as China, Egypt and Turkey. She pointed out in her congressional testimony that Venezuela has been developing close relations with Iran, and that "it's a serious matter if any country in our hemisphere falls under the sway of Iran or someone else who is inimicable to our interests."

"Let's try to see whether there is any opportunity to move President Chávez away from the influences" of Iran and others, she proposed.

That's certainly a worthy goal -- and we have no objection to Mr. Obama's handshake with Mr. Chávez. The administration's strategy -- to open up a constructive dialogue with Venezuela and avoid being cast as Mr. Chávez's Yanqui foil -- is reasonable; it is also the same strategy as was tried, unsuccessfully, by the previous two administrations. What doesn't make sense is to deliberately ignore steps by Mr. Chávez to consolidate an autocracy. In so doing, the administration encourages Latin American governments that have shrunk from confronting the Venezuelan strongman to continue in their own silence. It sends pro-Chávez governments in countries such as Bolivia and Nicaragua the message that they can persecute their own domestic opponents with impunity. And it makes it more rather than less likely that Venezuela, with the help of Iran and Russia, will become a threat to the United States.

Peru's democratic government is to be congratulated for its decision to offer Mr. Rosales

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