Monday, March 15, 2010

The Truth About Venezuela

UPDATE: below

Many progressives defend Hugo Chavez's despotic regime in Venezuela, claiming that "the corporate media continues to misrepresent the Bolivarian Revolution." Which, through liberal eyes, is more like Pandora's Na'vi than the repressive, dictator-supporting, insane, humorless economic basket-case it actually is.

Truth about Venezuela comes from a surprising source. Though headquartered in Washington, the Organization of American States often has been suspicious of the United States, and at times flatly anti-American. So, I await the lamentations lefties deploy to dismiss the OAS's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' 300+ page report on "Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela," issued late last year. Here's a brief excerpt from its Executive Summary (at ix-x):
4. 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 reportestablishes 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.

5. The Commission begins by analyzing how the effective enjoyment of political rights in Venezuela -- rights that by their very nature promote strengthened democracy and political pluralism -- has been hampered. 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.

6. In its report, 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. In its observations to the present report, the State indicated that the modifications made to the instruments governing the powers and scope of authority of governors and mayors would have been made regardless of who was elected in 2008 and that they also apply to authorities of the government’s party. Nevertheless, the IACHR has noticed that a series of legal reforms have left opposition authorities with limited powers, preventing them from legitimately exercising the mandates for which they were elected.

7. In this report, the IACHR also notes a troubling trend of punishments, intimidation, and attacks on individuals in reprisal for expressing their dissent with official policy. This trend affects both opposition authorities and citizens exercising their right to express their disagreement with the policies pursued by the government. These reprisals are carried out through both state actions, including harassment, and acts of violence perpetrated by civilians acting outside the law as violent groups. The Commission notes with concern that, in some extreme cases, criminal proceedings have been brought against dissidents, accusing them of common crimes in order to deny them their freedom on account of their political positions.

8. Similarly, the Commission notes a trend toward the use of criminal charges to punish people exercising their right to demonstrate or protest against government policies. Information received by the Commission indicates that over the past five years, criminal charges have been brought against more than 2,200 people in connection with their involvement in public demonstrations. Thus, 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, whereby demonstrators are accused of crimes such as blocking public highways, resisting the authorities, damage to public property, active obstruction of legally‐established institutions, offenses to public officials, criminal instigation and criminal association, public incitement to lawbreaking, conspiracy, restricting freedom of employment, and breaches of the special secure zones regime, among others. In its report, 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. . .

9. At the same time, the IACHR notes that exercising the right of peaceful demonstration in Venezuela frequently leads to violations of the rights to life and humane treatment, which in many cases are the consequence of excessive use of state force or the actions of violent groups. According to information received by the Commission, between January and August 2009 alone, six people were killed during public demonstrations, four of them through the actions of the State’s security forces. This situation is of particular concern to the IACHR in that repression and the excessive use of criminal sanctions to criminalize protest has the effect of dissuading those wishing to use that form of participation in public life to assert their rights.
This is too much for the liberal Washington Post editors:
Particularly shocking is the commission's account of the role that violence and murder have played in Mr. Chávez's concentration of power. The report documents killings of journalists, opposition protesters and farmers; it says that 173 trade union leaders and members were slain between 1997 and 2009 "in the context of trade union violence, with contract killings being the most common method for attacking union leaders." The report says that in 2008 Venezuela's human rights ombudsman recorded 134 complaints of arbitrary killings by security forces, 87 allegations of torture and 33 cases of forced disappearance. It also asserts that radical groups allied with Mr. Chávez "are perpetrating acts of violence with the involvement or acquiescence of state agents."

There has been no accountability for these acts. "Impunity," says the report, "is a common characteristic that equally affects cases of reprisal 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."

To read the report is to be dismayed anew by the silence of Venezuela's neighbors and of the principal OAS organs.
Indeed, it's so awful even Jimmy Carter called Chavez "authoritarian." Who knew there were despots Carter would diss?

Still, lefties rate Bill Gates the greater global threat, probably because Chavez hates America as much as they do. So I predict most progressives will persist in praising Venezuela in ignorance.


From the March 18th TelecomTV:
The populist demagogue President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela obviously believes the Internet has got it in for him. He's accusing the web of "spreading false information" about him and his grandiose plans and so has decided that he wants it regulated -- on his terms, naturally. . .

The enraged Chavez said, "This is a crime. The Internet can't be something free where anything can be done and said. No, every country has to impose its rules and regulations It can't be that they transmit whatever they want poisoning the minds of many people -- regulation, regulation, the laws!"


Marc said...


Editorial of The New York Sun | August 24, 2004

President Carter will no doubt be on Hugo Chavez's Christmas card list this December. It was certainly a gift for the Venezuelan leader this year when Mr. Carter certified without reservation an election that opposition newspapers were quick to denounce as a fraud. No sooner had the former American president handed this gift to the Venezuelan Marxist than, as our Eli Lake reported last Thursday, the coalition of labor unions, business groups, and political parties brought forward a list of serious complaints about the process leading up to the elections and how the votes were counted by new electronic machines purchased by the state's election commission.

Exit polling from the American firm of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates suggested the inverse of the results Mr. Carter blessed last Monday that showed Mr. Chavez survived the recount referendum by a margin of 59% to 41%. Nor does the list of concerns for the opposition end with rigged voting machines. Many parties say they have names of government employees fired after their names were disclosed on the Internet by a pro-Chavez legislator as signers of a petition calling for the referendum. Some Venezuelan papers even reported that the paper records of the votes were found in rivers and vacant lots. Finally, many Venezuelans question why Mr. Chavez was so quick to issue citizenship to some 2 million persons, many living abroad, in the months and weeks leading up to the vote.

Given such questions, why would the Carter Center so quickly confirm the official vote count of Mr. Chavez's election commission and recommend that Secretary Powell accept the official results? As Venezuelan journalist Fabiola Zerpa asked, "Why did it rush to back the results? Why couldn't it wait a day or two until all the results were ready and the auditing process was finished?"

One reason is because the two institutions entrusted with certifying the Venezuelan referendum - the Carter Center and the Organization of American States - agreed to ridiculous restrictions for their monitors. Mr. Chavez, for example, limited the number of actual monitors to 120 in a country of 25 million. Under Mr. Chavez's rules, none of the monitors was allowed to comment on the process leading up to the August 15 election. Also, the monitors had to be accompanied by members of the state's election commission, whose final assessment both the OAS and the Carter Center had to agree not to criticize. These conditions were so restrictive and negotiated so close to the election day that the European Union did not even agree to send their monitors.

The August 21 report from the Carter Center on the election fails, incredibly, to make any mention of these restrictive conditions. It does say that after auditing 150 voting machines at random, it found no statistical significance to the opposition's claim that some of those polling devices placed a limit on the number of votes it would allow ousting Mr. Chavez. What a shameful denouement for Mr. Carter's career, providing a seal of approval for a left-wing demagogue intent on destroying his country and opposed to the interests of our own.

OBloodyHell said...

> Indeed, it's so awful even Jimmy Carter called Chavez "authoritarian." Who knew there were despots Carter would diss?

You're assuming that "authoritarian" is a bad thing to Carter, aren't you?