Sunday, July 5, 2009




The public’s attention generally focuses on the circumstantial, while analysis of the transcendental or structural is avoided or postponed.
One of those transcendental problems is the gradual destruction of human capital in Venezuela. In Newsweek Web this week, Mac Margolis analyzes the exodus of Venezuelans during the decade of the Chávez administration.
This analyst tells of the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have gone to live abroad owing to the policies of a government that believes that the country is its own private property and has radically polarized the population, commenting that this mass of emigrants is made up particularly of artists, lawyers, doctors, managers, and engineers.
He maintains that this exodus has not only split up families, but that it will also affect the country’s future. He points out that, in Chávez’s Venezuela, talent is one of the main exports and warns that this goes against the tide of the repatriation policies being implemented by many developing countries today to recover their economies and consolidate their democracies.
This situation is somewhat reminiscent of Fidel Castro’s Cuba at the start of his communist revolution, when the best of the country’s middle class emigrated. That Cuban exodus was crucial for transforming Miami from a geriatric tourism area to the prosperous cultural and business center with considerable influence in the entire Latin American region that it is today. That mass emigration of professionals and prosperous, qualified manpower was a decisive factor that contributed to Cuba becoming one of the most backward countries in Latin America, on a par with Haiti.
Why has Venezuela, which until the 90s attracted immigrants, become a country of emigrants that is losing valuable human resources that are fundamental for building its future? The short answer is Hugo Chávez! A longer answer is provided by this analyst of Hugo Chávez’s policies.
One of the first brain drains occurred with the expulsion of more than 20,000 professionals from PDVSA. This wrecked the state-owned oil company, which has now become corrupt and efficient.
Another has been triggered by the high level of politicization of government agencies and state-owned companies, which has resulted in anyone who is against Chávez’s project being denied job opportunities and the chance to take part in the country’s development. Then there is the government’s anti-private enterprise policy, which has drastically reduced the productive apparatus and, consequently, the sources of jobs that do not depend on having a party card. Today, it is practically compulsory to run candidates to jobs in the growing number of state-owned companies through the filter of the Tascón List.
Other factors that have contributed to this mass exodus are the government’s harassment of free thought and free creativity that is scaring off intellectuals and researchers; the capital depletion of health centers that is making doctors and other health professionals go elsewhere; the threat to private property, which makes people fear that they will be left with nothing after years of hard work; and the appalling crime levels and impunity that have prompted families to leave the country for fear of their lives.
In short, this is a spurious government that steals from the nation’s youth the possibility of having a future in their own country and deprives Venezuela of the talent it needs in order to develop.

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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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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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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

There is no hiding the obvious

It is nothing new for the Chávez administration to attack and try to discredit nongovernment organizations. It knows that these spokesmen of civil society are independent and do not lend themselves to manipulation, particularly those that work to defend human rights.
In order to discredit these representatives of civil society and prevent them from taking action, they have resorted to every trick in the book, including arbitrary and unconstitutional interpretations of the law.
One such was the decision handed down by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in 2000 in which Justice Jesús Eduardo Cabrera Infante determined that organizations that received financing from abroad did not form part of civil society. The purpose behind this decision was to restrict the participation of civil society in any sphere of national life. What is more, during these past seven years, this same decision has been used at the discretion of the powers that be and when it suits them to silence complaints about what is happening in Venezuela raised by different NGOs that work to defend citizens’ rights.
The NGO to come under attack today is Transparencia Venezuela, the Venezuelan chapter of Transparency International, a nonprofit organization of renown that seeks to prevent and reduce corruption in all parts of the world. Transparencia Venezuela had planned to submit a follow-up report to the OAS this week on compliance with the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC), under which it represents Venezuelan society.
At that meeting, at which the Venezuelan government would also be represented, the countries (government and civil society) are under the obligation to submit their respective reports on progress made in the fight against corruption.
However, the Venezuelan government, availing itself of the infamous decision of the TSJ mentioned earlier, is, once again, trying to prevent Transparencia Venezuela from submitting its report on corruption in the country. It fears, and quite rightly so, that the rampant corruption that is undermining the Bolivarian government will be exposed, yet again, for the world to see.
So, in a letter from Venezuela’s official representatives, signed by the General Accountability Office of the Republic and addressed to the Follow-up Mechanism of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (AICAC) follow-up mechanism, they claim that Transparencia Venezuela is not an organization of Venezuelan civil society because it receives funds from abroad.
The Head of the Accountability Office even chose to forget the fact that the AICAC follow-up mechanism had earlier recommended that this decision be eliminated, while requesting that steps be taken to ensure that there were no provisions in current legislation that restricted the participation of civil organizations in efforts to prevent corruption.
It may well be that the government will, once again, manage to prevent Transparencia Venezuela from submitting its report, thus violating the NGO’s right to take part in the AICAC follow-up mechanism and setting a worrisome precedent so that, in the future, the government and government agencies will have the power to select who may and who may not monitor them.
With all that, the Chávez administration will not be able to prevent the AICAC follow-up mechanism from receiving the different reports from Transparencia Venezuela or the findings from being made public.
In other words, however hard it tries, the government will not be able to hide the obvious, particularly the widespread corruption plaguing its revolution.

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