Friday, February 26, 2010

IACHR report on Venezuela: and you really thought Venezuela was a democracy?


Full Report:

IACHR report on Venezuela: And you really thought Venezuela was a democracy?
February 24, 2010

Since the report is long, I wanted to summarize the highlights from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights report on Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela. Despite the Venezuelan Government’s refusal to allow a visit since 2002, the Commission felt it could still analyze the Venezuelan situation in order to comply with its mandate.

Here are some highlights, for those that still want to believe or defend that Venezuela is a democracy:

  • The Commission also finds that in Venezuela, not all persons are ensured full enjoyment of their rights irrespective of the positions they hold vis-à-vis the government’s policies.
  • The Commission also finds that the State’s punitive power is being used to intimidate or punish people on account of their political opinions.
  • The Commission’s report establishes that Venezuela lacks the conditions necessary for human rights defenders and journalists to carry out their work freely.
  • The IACHR also detects the existence of a pattern of impunity in cases of violence, which particularly affects media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, participants in public demonstrations, people held in custody, campesinos (small-scale and subsistence farmers), indigenous peoples, and women.
  • The IACHR’s report indicates that mechanisms have been created in Venezuela that restrict the possibilities of candidates opposed to the government for securing access to power. That has taken place through administrative resolutions of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic, whereby 260 individuals, mostly opposed to the government, were disqualified from standing for election. The Commission notes that these disqualifications from holding public office were not the result of criminal convictions and were ordered in the absence of prior proceedings, in contravention of the American Convention’s standards.
  • The Commission also notes how the State has taken action to limit some powers of popularly‐elected authorities in order to reduce the scope of public functions in the hands of members of the opposition.
  • The IACHR also notes a troubling trend of punishments, intimidation, and attacks on individuals in reprisal for expressing their dissent with official policy.
  • The Commission notes a trend toward the use of criminal charges to punish people exercising their right to demonstrate or protest against government policies.
  • The IACHR considers that the right to demonstrate in Venezuela is being restricted through the imposition of sanctions contained in provisions enacted by President Chávez’s government.
  • The Commission describes cases of people facing criminal charges for which they could be sentenced to prison terms of over twenty years in connection with their participation in antigovernment demonstrations.
  • In the Commission’s view, this practice constitutes a restriction of the rights of assembly and freedom of expression guaranteed in the American Convention, the free exercise of which is necessary for the correct functioning of a democratic system that includes all sectors of society.
  • The rules for the appointment, removal, and suspension of justices set out in the Organic Law of the Supreme Court of Justice lack the safeguards necessary to prevent other branches of government from undermining the Supreme Court’s independence and to keep narrow or temporary majorities from determining its composition.
  • Since judges are not appointed through public competitions, judges and prosecutors are freely appointed and removable, which seriously affects their independence in making decisions.
  • The Commission also describes how large numbers of judges have been removed or their appointments voided without the applicable administrative proceedings.
  • The numerous violent acts of intimidation carried out by private groups against journalists and media outlets, together with the discrediting declarations made by high‐ranking public officials against the media and journalists on account of their editorial lines and the systematic opening of administrative proceedings based on legal provisions that allow a high level of discretion in their application and enable drastic sanctions to be imposed, along with other elements, make for a climate of restriction that hampers the free exercise of freedom of expression as a prerequisite for a vigorous democracy based on pluralism and public debate.
  • The Commission observes with particular concern that there have been very serious violations of the rights to life and humane treatment in Venezuela as a result of the victims’ exercise of free expression.
  • The IACHR notes that recent months have seen an increase in administrative proceedings sanctioning media that criticize the government.
  • The Commission has also verified the existence of cases of prior censorship as a prototype of extreme and radical violations of freedom of expression in Venezuela.
  • The report also analyzes the impact on the right of free expression of the proceedings initiated in July 2009 toward the possible cancellation of 240 radio stations’ broadcasting concessions, and of the decision to order 32 stations to cease transmissions.
  • The Commission calls the attention of the Venezuelan State to the incompatibility between the current legal framework governing freedom of expression and its obligations under the American Convention.
  • The Commission also stresses that the offenses of desacato (disrespect) and viipendio (contempt) contained in the amendments to the Penal Code in force since 2005 are incompatible with the American Convention in that they restrict the possibilities of free, open, plural, and uninhibited discussion on matters of public importance.
  • The Commission also deals with the major obstacles faced by human rights defenders in their work in Venezuela. It also notes with concern that witnesses and relatives of the victims of human rights violations are frequently targeted by threats, harassment, and intimidation for denouncing violations.
  • The IACHR also finds that inadequate access to public information has hindered the work of defending human rights in Venezuela.
  • One of the issues relating to human rights in Venezuela of gravest concern to the Inter‐American Commission is that of public insecurity.
  • The IACHR’s report identifies certain provisions in the Venezuelan legal framework that are incompatible with a democratic approach to the defense and security of the State.
    During 2008, the Ombudsman’s Office recorded a total of 134 complaints involving arbitrary killings arising from the alleged actions of officers from different state security agencies. It also recorded a total of 2,197 complaints related to violations of humane treatment by state security officials. In addition, it reports receiving 87 allegations of torture and claims it is following up on 33 cases of alleged forced disappearances reported during 2008 and 34 reported during 2007.
  • Homicides, kidnappings, contract killings, and rural violence are the phenomena that most frequently affect the security of Venezuela’s citizens.
  • Information made available to the Commission indicates that in 2008, there were a total of 13,780 homicides in Venezuela, which averages out to 1,148 murders a month and 38 every day. The victims of these killings include an alarming number of children and adolescents.
  • The Commission’s report also notes with extreme concern that in Venezuela, violent groups such as the Movimiento Tupamaro, Colectivo La Piedrita, Colectivo Alexis Vive, Unidad Popular Venezolana, and Grupo Carapaica are perpetrating acts of violence with the involvement or acquiescence of state agents.
  • The Commission also continues with its observations on the alarmingly violent conditions within Venezuelan prisons.
  • The laws and policies pursued by the State have not been effective in guaranteeing the rights of women, particularly their right to a life free of violence.
  • The Commission notes in its report that impunity is a common characteristic that equally affects cases of reprisals against dissent, attacks on human rights defenders and on journalists, excessive use of force in response to peaceful protests, abuses of state force, common and organized crime, violence in prisons, violence against women, and other serious human rights violations.
  • On the other hand, in this report the Commission highlights the Venezuelan State’s major achievements in the fields of economic, social, and cultural rights, through legally recognizing the enforceability of the rights to education, to health, to housing, to universal social security, and other rights, as well as by implementing policies and measures aimed at remedying the shortcomings that affect vast sectors of the Venezuelan population.
  • The IACHR notes that the Missions have succeeded in improving the poverty situation and access to education and health among the traditionally‐excluded sectors of Venezuela’s population. Nevertheless, the Commission expresses concern at certain issues relating to the Missions as an axis of the government’s social policies.
  • The Commission notes that Venezuela is still characterized by constant intervention in the functioning of its trade unions, through actions of the State that hinder the activities of union leaders and that point to political control over the organized labor movement, as well as through rules that allow government agencies to interfere in the election of union leaders.
  • There you have it, the IACHR demonstrates that Venezuela is no longer a functioning democracy through the neglect and intimidation of a Government that discriminates its citizens even when they are in agreement with its policies. And, despite the Dictator’s claims, most of his policies show atotal disregard for the “people” that he claims to love so much.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

"Terrorist" Twitter Threatens Hugo Chavez's Stranglehold on Media

By Joseph Abrams

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is tightening his grip on the country's media. The greatest threat to Hugo Chavez's future just might be the World Wide Web.

Fierce and growing protests over media freedom have left at least two students dead in Venezuela, and graphic images depicting violent tactics employed by the police there have started to flood the Internet.

Police armed with tear gas and rubber bullets have left students bloodied and battered in Caracas and other cities during a week of protests over President Hugo Chavez's tightening gag on the opposition press.

On Sunday, Chavez ordered five cable stations shut down for refusing to broadcast his frequent speeches, setting off nationwide demonstrations in a country already wracked by water shortages, electricity rationing, alarming crime rates and the plummeting value of its currency, the Bolivar.

Student protesters have organized their efforts by planning their demonstrations on Twitter, which is serving as both a public message-board for activists and a storing house for images of the worst of the violence.

Follow news of the protests on Twitter.
#Venezuela #Estudiantes #FreeVenezuela

Elsewhere online, more than 80,000 people have joined a Facebook group, "Chavez estas PONCHAO!" taunting the increasingly unpopular president with a slang term meaning "Chavez, you struck out."

Chavez has fought back by declaring that "using Twitter, the Internet (and) text messaging" to criticize or oppose his increasingly authoritarian regime "is terrorism," a comment that recalls the looming threats of his allies in Iran, whose bloody crackdown on physical and electronic dissent may be blazing a trail for the Latin strongman.

Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda told El Nuevo Herald that the government has launched an army of Twitter users to bring down online networks and try to infiltrate student groups.

"They are scared by Twitter,'' he told the paper, noting that Chavez fears that the social networking system will allow students to follow the model of Iran and spread their protests by coordinating them online.

As the opposition seethes, Chavez has threatened a "radical" response to student activity, promising to "deepen the revolution" and "impose authority" wherever flashpoints occur.

"There are some attempting to set fire to the country," Chavez said in a televised address on Thursday. "What are they seeking? Death."

University students began their protests on Sunday after government pressure led cable TV services to drop Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which has long been critical of Chavez's socialist policies.

"We are not going to allow continued shutdowns of media outlets that tell the truth, and we are not going to allow ineptitude and inefficiency to continue," said Nizar El Sakih, a student leader.

Chavez's attempt to silence RCTV set off similar protests in 2007, when it was barred from network broadcasts and put on cable. But that has not deterred viewers, said Michael Shifter, a Latin America analyst at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue.

"If he kicks (RCTV) off the regular station and puts them on cable (Venezuelans) are going to watch cable.... If he kicks them off cable they'll find another medium," he said, adding that Chavez has underestimated the thirst for information in his country.

Internet analysts say Twitter, which blossomed before the protests but has exploded since they began, could change the face of politics in Venezuela, where hotly contested elections are approaching in September.

Using Twitter as an example, tech consultant Doug Hanchard wrote on Jan. 12: "The Internet might be what changes ... the political landscape in Venezuela.

"Make no mistake," wrote Hanchard, an adviser who covers the intersection of information technology and government, " Latin American cyberspace will be a busy place this year.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Justice fallen into the wrong hands

"In other words, the processes being administered by the Chinese leadership against its dissidents, by the Iranian regime against its protesters, or by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela against the opposition, should no longer be described as trials. "
The very grammar of justice has fallen into the wrong hands.

Human rights are under attack, and language is the weapon. The very grammar of justice has fallen into the wrong hands, instrumentalized in the elaborate and sensational theaters of due process. A trial without any rights of defense is still called a "trial," a conviction ordered down from an autocratic president rather than a judge is still called a "conviction," and there continues to exist an overwhelming and damaging perception that the law and courts work just fine—an assumption eagerly embraced by the financial community looking to toss heaps of capital into subprime judicial environments.

When Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian political prisoner whose case I am involved in, was put on trial for the first time in 2004, the government applied all its media powers to project the language of justice: They held him in shackles, placed him in a cage on television, and put on a good show trial where a judge pretends to listen to the defense as though the verdict would not arrive via a call from the Kremlin. This is what the Russians call "telephone justice."

It looks like a trial; to detached observers it might even smell something like due process; but underneath all the familiar language, there is the rot of corruption, political fiat and arbitrariness. We have seen it with China's 11-year sentence handed down to the dissident Liu Xiaobo, which was met by stone silence in the White House. We can read the borrowed grammar in the mysterious death of Dr. Ramin Pourandarjani in Iran, who was arrested after testifying before parliament that he refused pressure to sign false death certificates of fatally tortured protesters. Even the Burmese junta has become a master of bureaucratic process, extending Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest after a sham trial.

In another case I am involved with in Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez goes on national television to attack a recently released political prisoner, Eligio Cedeño, and then demand a 30-year sentence for the judge who ordered his conditional release, which was supported by international expert opinion. Chávez called both Mr. Cedeño and the judge "bandits," despite the fact that neither of these individuals had committed any crime nor ever been convicted of any offense. For these countries' leaders, it is much more important that the media adopt their narrative and language to portray their enemies as criminals than it is to administer actual justice or prove a real case.

When the vocabulary of criminal justice is hijacked, we rarely can get the media to present an unbiased account of events that considers the fact that the charges may be incoherent, or the evidence nonexistent, or that the procedural games of prosecutors might be completely outside the law. For these governments, the application of the charge is more of a goal than any conviction, because they can count upon their authority to erase the presumption of innocence in a trial. They know that by simply labeling dissidents or dissenters as criminals, the public will come to see them as such.

Once someone is charged, very few observers are interested in the possible motivations of those bringing the charges. All processes are deemed regular and included within the same grammar, whether or not the investigation has been independent or the prosecution politically motivated.

My self-help remedy is a very simple one. I propose that journalists reconsider their liberal use of the word "trial," unless it is used to describe a process of relative equality of arms between defense and prosecution, before a fair and independent tribunal as envisioned by a plethora of international conventions and treaties. In other words, the processes being administered by the Chinese leadership against its dissidents, by the Iranian regime against its protesters, or by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela against the opposition, should no longer be described as trials. I say this because the presumption of innocence is also enshrined in these same conventions. This concept alone is something that autocratic leaders, in particular, fail to comprehend and regularly abuse.

So why should we provide these leaders with the presumption of regularity by trusting that their institutions operate in an independent and legitimate manner? Why should we not claw back the vocabulary and grammar of human rights, so that we become less fixated on a given government's narrative of events and more focused on their motivation for bringing the charges described?

Stokley Carmichael, the famous 1960s civil-rights activist, once wrote, "We have to fight for the right to invent the terms which allow ourselves to define our relations to society, and we have to fight that these terms will be accepted. This is the first need of a free people, and the first right refused by every oppressor."

In human rights, language is everything, and it's time that we take it back.

Mr. Amsterdam is an international lawyer specializing in the politics of business and the rule of law in emerging markets.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Human Rights Beyond Ideology and Mr. Morales false indegenous icon

"Some voices at the Oslo meeting are seldom heard in the West. Victor Hugo Cardenas of Bolivia prides himself on his indigenous background but is an implacable opponent of leftist President Evo Morales, a protégé of Hugo Chavez. Mr. Cardenas, a former vice president of Bolivia, called Mr. Morales a "false indigenous icon" who was deploying "shock troops" to silence critics. Indeed, he said that some of Mr. Morales's thugs had recently attacked his house and beaten members of his family. "But you will hear little of this from our media, much of which is bought by the Venezuelan money of Hugo Chavez," he thundered. "
The wall street journal
Human Rights Beyond Ideology


Twenty years ago, as Soviet communism was collapsing and new democracies were springing up everywhere, there were bright hopes for the spread of human rights. But while this year marks the anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling, yesterday was also the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in China, a reminder of just how unyielding authoritarian governments can be.

Tiananmen was very much on the minds of the 200 human-rights activists who gathered in this tidy capital city where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year. But the Oslo Freedom Forum, organized by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, was unlike any human-rights conference I've ever attended. As at other such gatherings, racism and gender discrimination were on the minds of plenty of participants. But there was no desire to blame such problems on the U.S. or other Western nations. The emphasis was on promoting basic rights in all nations at all times.

"It's pretty simple," says Thor Halvorssen, a human-rights activist and the conference's 33-year-old founder. "We all should want freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom from torture, freedom to travel, due process and freedom to keep what belongs to you." Unfortunately, he explains, "the human-rights establishment at the United Nations is limited to pretty words because so many member countries kill or imprison or torture their opponents."

Indeed, the U.N. Human Rights Conference held in Geneva last month was a disgrace, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denouncing Israel as a "racist regime" and saying that "Zionism" was dominating the media and financial systems of the West. The U.S. didn't send a delegation to Geneva, and a number of the European representatives walked out during Mr. Ahmadinejad's rant.

The Oslo Freedom Forum, by contrast, was a serious gathering of grown-ups. Even Oslo's leftist newspaper Klassekampen (Class Struggle) overcame its initial skepticism, declaring the forum "an impressive assembly of people."

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and Yelena Bonner, the widow of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, couldn't attend due to ill health, but all sent videotaped statements. Ms. Bonner challenged delegates to combat the "anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment growing throughout Europe" since she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize here on behalf of her husband in 1975. Vladimir Bukovsky, a scientist who was tortured by the KGB for years, warned that many of Russia's old oppressors were "safely in power again" in new guises.

The conference also brought together activists from far-flung corners of the world. Palden Gyatso, a diminutive Tibetan monk, told horrifying tales of being imprisoned for 33 years and being tortured by Chinese captors who wedged electric batons into his mouth and destroyed all of his teeth. After his talk, he was embraced by Harry Wu, a survivor of 19 years in China's network of labor camps, which still contain untold numbers of prisoners.

Although quiet and reserved, Abdel Nasser Ould Ethmane kept his audience riveted as he told of how he'd been raised in an elite Mauritanian family that kept slaves even after the practice was officially abolished in his land in 1981. While living in Paris as an adult, he became infuriated at the world's indifference to slavery and teamed up with a former slave from Mauritania to provide legal help to escapees and also conduct covert rescue operations of those still in bondage. Mr. Ethmane's talk was followed by presentations from two powerful speakers from Kurdistan and Uzbekistan, both women who had served time for democratic activism.

Some voices at the Oslo meeting are seldom heard in the West. Victor Hugo Cardenas of Bolivia prides himself on his indigenous background but is an implacable opponent of leftist President Evo Morales, a protégé of Hugo Chavez. Mr. Cardenas, a former vice president of Bolivia, called Mr. Morales a "false indigenous icon" who was deploying "shock troops" to silence critics. Indeed, he said that some of Mr. Morales's thugs had recently attacked his house and beaten members of his family. "But you will hear little of this from our media, much of which is bought by the Venezuelan money of Hugo Chavez," he thundered.

The Norwegian hosts seem keen on repeating the event next year. The forum certainly attracted the right enemies. During the conference, Norwegian papers reported that the Cuban Embassy had emailed a lengthy denunciation of the forum, accusing Mr. Halvorssen and former Cuban political prisoner Armando Valladares of being CIA agents. The embassy also wrote that Mr. Valladares was a "terrorist," and it accused the Human Rights Foundation's Bolivian representative of "providing the bulk of the funds for the terrorist gang" that had supposedly plotted to assassinate President Morales.

Mr. Halvorssen expressed both amusement and exasperation at the charges. "They accuse me of working for the CIA in countries I've never visited," he told me. "As for Ambassador Valladares, he was Amnesty International's first prisoner of conscience from Cuba. Amnesty doesn't usually protect CIA agents."

Mr. Fund is a columnist for

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page W13

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

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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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

...... 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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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,
Si desea una copia de esta nota de prensa en español, diríjase a

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