Sunday, August 30, 2009

Juxtaposition

The Venezuelan government will punish protesters because "all they want is to destabilize."

And

The Honduran coup government punishes protesters because they are "putting many Hondurans out of work."

Both of which bring to mind the immortal words of Barry Goldwater in 1964:

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

33 comments:

Anonymous,  10:21 AM  

Some have been wrongly castigated on this board for pointing out the hypocrisy of the OAS with regard to defending democracy. Venezuela and the derivative ALBA countries have been on a spree of anti-democratic practices. The latest example, to prohibit public demonstrations against the Venezuelan govt., is bone-chilling. The dictator has gone beyond extreme rhetoric to the actual pursuit of his political opponents. Hugo Chavez has a monopoly on force through a politicized army. He controls every branch of govt. He is nationalizing industries and controls the unions. He wages war against the oligarchic media, educational institutions and golf courses. All of it funded by petro dollars that are being squandered. If the Hondurans have the right to resist a tyrannical govt,. so do the Venezuelans. The court of world opinion has been too slow to catch on and too slow to do anything in support of basic freedoms. Una verguenza.

Slave Revolt,  11:13 AM  

Greg, that you would conflate these two governments and accuse Venezulea of stifling public protest points up your intellectual dishonesty.

Really, do I need to go further.

The Venezuelan rightwing opposition can protest and organize all they want--but when they step over the line in order to create violent, destablizing incidents that can be used for purposes of propaganda, then the democratically elected government has the mandate to protect the constitutional order.

Again, that would would conflate the anti-democratic, pro-empire repression and terror happening in Honduras with Venezulea's attempt to head-off a US-backed, rightwing destablization in Venezulea smacks of the typical intellectual dishonesty that is so rife in US political culture. More, your behavior is in keeping with intellectual whores throughout history that serve anti-democratic regiems with totalitarian goals.

Vicente Duque 12:50 PM  

Mr Weeks :

These two governments of Venezuela and Ecuador seem to be extremely hostile to critiques. They manipulate and maneuver with all kinds of "dirty tricks" to stifle opposition, and to close their TV Stations, Radio Stations or Newspapers.

What produces the Greatest Pain in my soul is to have witnessed for many years how these two Governments ( with a lot of help from Ortega in Nicaragua ) try to undermine the Colombian Government and Civility ( very much superior to the three countries mentioned, and a better organized hard working Economy ! )

They support the FARC guerrillas with weapons, money and continuous verbal support ....

These FARC guerrillas are the worst terrorists sowing the agricultural fiels with land mines that have killed and maimed hundreds if not thousands of children.

They throw gas cylinders to detonate the humblest huts and homes in the humblest and poorest villages or hamlets of Colombia, killing lots of Women, Children and Old People, , and burning straw churches with many civilians, women and children inside.

For many years the President of Colombia has pointed with the proper names ( a roster ) the Terrorists that Venezuela and Ecuador, hide and train in their territories.

Before Killing Raul Reyes, two years before, Uribe had said that Ecuador was giving sanctuary to Raul Reyes ( a Bloody terrorist Murderer and Aggressive Arrogant ). Rafael Correa did nothing but insult Colombia continuously nonstop, with the help of Chavez.

For many years before the Reyes Killing Rafael Correa was continuously harassing, torturing and goring the Colombian Government with the Big Help of his Master ( the master's voice of RCA Victor )

Americans, please learn Spanish, or get a translator, and you will see thousands upon thousands of videos of Aggression against Colombia from Chavez, Correa and Ortega, many years before killing Reyes.

I applaud the killing of this Terrorist Reyes .... Every nation has a right of self defense.

That a ridiculous unmanly Militaristic bully from the worst Barracks weeps and whines is of no consequence for the moral imperative of destroying Terrorism and Murder.

Chavez has now created ports and havens for Russian Ships, very close to the Panama Canal.

Milenials.com

Vicente Duque

Justin Delacour 10:28 PM  

The Venezuelan government will punish protesters because "all they want is to destabilize."

You can always count on Greg for some mindless propaganda against Venezuela. Never mind that the very report to which he links says:

"Authorities detained Blanco for allegedly injuring a police officer during a demonstration a week ago..."

Just out of curiosity, Greg, can you name us one country in the hemisphere where a protester wouldn't be subject to arrest for injuring a police officer?

Keep tryin', Greg.

Joche 10:34 PM  

From Spain’s El Pais: It is a crime to protest in Venezuela

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/Protestar/Venezuela/sera/delito/elpepuint/20090830elpepiint_7/Tes

"Protesting in the streets of Venezuela is, from now on, synonymous with crime. The Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega, has announced it will open proceedings against all those citizens who “protest for any reason” and that in her opinion, only seek to “destabilize the constitutionally elected Government..."

Alas, poor "free speech"! I knew him, Horatio....

leftside 4:25 AM  

Look at the way El Pais deliberately distorts the Venezuelan Minister's words. El Pais says Venezuela will open proceedings against all those citizens who “protest for any reason.” Sounds ominous no? All protests are now illegal? Hardly.

The full quote from Luisa Ortega Diaz is in reference to people who go looking for "any reason to go march, any motive to create chaos, whatever, they want to destabilize." She was clearly not referring to preventing ALL protest. She was merely describing some of the violent, illegal episodes of the last week. Protest and debate will remain live and well. When one person is actually in jail for exercising their legitimate right to speech, the press can complain. But I am sick of these stories of impending doom that never materializes.

Nevermind all that. Greg's comments are particularly offensive because they attempt to compare the actions of a movement fighting to regain their democracy with a movement trying to topple democracy.

Anonymous,  12:26 PM  

Yes, but which one's which?

mcentellas 6:54 PM  

Who decides which reasons are legitimate ones for protests, and not merely meant to destabilize? There's the rub, I think.

Justin Delacour 6:16 AM  

Who decides which reasons are legitimate ones for protests, and not merely meant to destabilize? There's the rub, I think.

In every democracy that we know of, states have established rules of law that invariably prohibit protesters from committing bodily harm against police officers. So what exactly is so scandalous about the fact that the Venezuelan state arrested a protester who allegedly injured a police officer? How exactly does this become a sign of impending totalitarianism in the minds of two U.S. college professors?

mcentellas 12:22 PM  

I think you jump the gun again, Justin. I'm not suggesting that any restrictions on free speech are a sign of a totalitarian regime (what a slippery slope argument that was!).

But WHO decides those limitations, and HOW those limitations are decided is an important issue.

Nothing at all scandalous about arresting a protestor who strikes a police officer. No argument there. But increasing restrictions on other protests because they are "divisive" can be open to many questionable interpretations.

You keep insisting on attacking the ideological biases of your opponents (sometimes fairly, sometimes not). But you seem either unwilling (or incapable) of questioning your own ideological biases. That is intellectually dangerous.

leftside 6:04 PM  

The only jumping of the gun is when people (again and again) describe an impending dictatorship in Venezuela based on a one-off comment by a Government official or a supposed (media) law that never had a chance of getting approved. The intent is not to "punish protesters" or criminalize protest. It is to ensure that the rights of the larger citizenry are not curtailed by illegal protests that create violence and block roads. Of course, there are dangers in trying to define what is permissable and what crosses that line. That is what a judiciary is for. But can we wait to condemn Venezuela's judiciary until they've actually locked someone up who should not be (ie. not committed a crime)? Until then, again it is all a hypothesis with no basis in fact.

leftside 6:05 PM  

I see Chavez has already saw fit to call in from Libya to back off the words of Luisa Ortega - who does seem to be a bit of a loose cannon.

Anonymous,  10:00 PM  

The Chavistas on this board are myopic and in denial. According to a Venezuelan NGO over 2,000 people have been charged with the new criminal stautes (blocking a road for demanding decent public services) and this is a conservative estimate. Hitting police officers is hardly the issue. That is called a straw an argument. Wake up and defend freedom of speech and assembly for all of Latin America. These are human rights.

Justin Delacour 10:43 PM  

I'm not suggesting that any restrictions on free speech are a sign of a totalitarian regime

We're not even talking about "restrictions on free speech." We're talking about whether democracies can and do prohibit violent acts of protest and/or the use of physical force by protesters. The answer is that democracies invariably have laws restricting such activities. I doubt you could point me to one country in the hemisphere where blocking a public road is not an activity for which a protester can be subject to arrest. (You certainly couldn't block a road in the United States and expect not to get arrested).

Until you folks can establish that Venezuela is somehow operating outside regional norms on this question, you really have no leg to stand on.

Anonymous,  8:59 AM  

Justin, "regional norms" by definition is not a standard for measuring adherence to human rights. It is comparative and relativistic. It is an excuse used by violators to rationalize bad behavior and mitigate the damage. In short, it is a race to the bottom.

For the sake of arguing your stupid point though. Argentina didn't charge thousands of farmers for protesting last year (blocking roads). Mexico did not charge the Obrador supporters for illegally occupying the Zocalo or the Reforma. Chile's government does not fine the students who protest about education every year, shutting down major segments of Santiago. What these governments--both left and right-- know is that freedom of assembly and free speech matter and that repression may only make the situation worse.

Your ideological blindness exemplifies this board's Chavista tendency to grasp one lame excuse after another. Chavez's minister is misquoted. He is a loose canon. It is about organized violence against the state--hitting police officers. To, finally, suggesting that this statute is the standard in the US. The last is a comical outcome for a lefty "intellectual."

Why not try to play it straight and base your judgments on observable facts? It might be a liberating experience. Carrying water for Hugo is quite a burden.

Anonymous,  9:06 AM  

Tyranny of the Majority

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/
internacional/2200/procesados/
Venezuela/manifestarse/Chavez/
ONG/elpepuintlat/20090901
elpepuint_9/Tes

Anonymous,  9:17 AM  

"He ain't heavy, he's my brother..."

http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/
country,,,,VEN,4562d94e2,
4a645272c,0.html

Anonymous,  9:21 AM  

I think some people on this board might have sided with Nixon against the college students in 1970! Nevertheless, there are honest and disinterested folks, many of the left, who continue to press the case for human rights in Venezuela.

http://www.internationalpen.
org.uk/go/news/venezuela
-severe-set-backs-for-
freedom-of-expression

Justin Delacour 1:51 PM  

For the sake of arguing your stupid point though. Argentina didn't charge thousands of farmers for protesting last year (blocking roads).

And do you think Venezuela charges every protester who blocks a road? Of course not.

All your anecdotes aside, the point is that, everywhere you go in the hemisphere, states can and do arrest people for blocking roads. For you to single out Venezuela on this score indicates that you have an axe to grind against Venezuela for ideological reasons, not for reasons that have anything to do with human rights.

Your ideological blindness exemplifies this board's Chavista tendency to grasp one lame excuse after another. Chavez's minister is misquoted. He is a loose canon.

The Attorney General in question is not a "he," smart guy.

But keep tryin.'

Anonymous,  10:01 PM  

Yeah, I would focus on an error in the least important part of my argument if I were holding such a sucky hand too. Did you address the substance? No. Ignore the evidence from credible sources? Yup. Nothing more than predictable, pathetic and relativistic arguments to rationalize censorship and tyranny of the majority.

Really weak analysis, comrade.

Justin Delacour 10:48 PM  

Did you address the substance?

What substance? Glaring double standards don't qualify as substance, my dear ideologue.

Beyond that, you should at least know the gender of Venezuela's Attorney General if you wish to be taken seriously on the subject.

Anonymous,  4:11 PM  

I think Justin doesn't realize it's a horrible job market out there for recent PhDs--especially ones w/ an established public reputation for being hostile to peers/colleagues. Or maybe he has, and he's just cranky about it.

Justin Delacour 7:34 PM  

I think anonymous realizes he has nothing serious to offer to this discussion, so he resorts to personal insults.

Anonymous,  8:59 PM  

"Justin, "regional norms" by definition is not a standard for measuring adherence to human rights. It is comparative and relativistic. It is an excuse used by violators to rationalize bad behavior and mitigate the damage. In short, it is a race to the bottom."

If you would read my post, I think the substance was both clear and unambiguous. I provided evidence from credible international sources. You, however, changed the subject and engaged in a straw man argument. Even at a middle school debate camp, you would lose the case. You are defending the indefensible without evidence. Your only out is to avoid talking about Chavez's government and make me into ideologue. And a supposedly stupid one for making a minor mistake. Really bad analysis, doctor.

Justin Delacour 11:27 PM  

Justin, "regional norms" by definition is not a standard for measuring adherence to human rights. It is comparative and relativistic.

This so-called argument is so poor that it hardly merits comment. But since you persist with utter nonsense, let's play a little game in elementary logic to see where this leads.

According to your so-called "standard," a person's so-called "right" to block roads for a cause of his or her choosing is now a "human right." Given that you claim that this is a "standard" by which you operate, would you care to show me one other instance in your life when you've waxed moralistic about a so-called "violation" of people's "right" to block roads with impunity?

Or is this just another example of a so-called "standard" that applies only to Venezuela, not to other states in the hemisphere that perfunctorily arrest protesters for blocking roads?

Anonymous,  6:47 AM  

The issue of human rights in Venezuela goes far beyond particular statutes against freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. But to entertain your relativistic thinking, last year I was in Argentina and I supported the farmers who were striking. I also supported the Fernandez-Kirchner government's largely peaceful response. If you had asked me about the last Mexican presidential election, I thought Obrador's supporters and the Mexican govt. both were wise to avoid large scale violence despite the fact that technically the protests occupied public space illegally. So in terms of the protests and govt. response, it isn't parsing the statutes that is the problem. That is just a so much legal technicalities on the part of the repressors. The issue on blocking roads is the proportionality of the response and what the statutes and arrests are designed to do. The Chavez administration is out to intimidate the opposition through legal harassment, tear gas and rhetorical bombast on state-owned media. They would like nothing better than for the citizens to censor themselves and be afraid to express their views through self-censorship. I join many international groups in refusing to support such low tactics and partisan government intimidation. In a democracy folks lean towards hearing people out, not shutting them up.

The real problem with your demanding regional standards is the precedentiary value you set. Is your approach a rationalization? A justification? I believe it is. Each individual country, rather than look for worse actors in the neighborhood that would justify their repression, should address their own actions as an individual state. They should strive to uphold the ideals behind the law, in both spirit and in fact. No one is saying Venezuela has to surrender their policies and programs to the protestors. No one expects perfection. Yet, given the media censorship and attacks on freedom of aseembly, it is clear that the Chavez regime has decided that only govt. supporters deserve the protection of the law. Every time a critic of a govt. action raises their voice in defense of human rights, the response is always a so-called "double standard." It is a weak defense, professor. It didn't work for Idi Amin or for Somoza and it won't work here.

Lastly, I think one ought to consider the Nixonian/Pinochet/Castro/
Cambodia/SouthAfrica/Poland/
North&South Korea examples from the 1970s. No progress would ever have been made on any of these fronts if the their citizenry and world public opinion had simply said, you get a pass because it is tough to govern in your neighborhood and you are not the worst. Instead the divestment campaign for South Africa or the Helsinki Accords in Europe were intolerant of such excuses. South Koreans and Jewish refuseniks repeatedly risked their lives to demand what was rightfully theirs. That two of these tyrannies survive (Cuba and N. Korea) doesn't mean they are off the hook. Their excuses are as worn out as your defense of Chavez. I recommend the daily reading of Yoani Sanchez for the cure to your ideological blindness. A concerned and intelligent citizen who simply refuses to shut up!

Anonymous,  6:49 AM  

Here is Yoani's Generation Y blog in English.

http://desdecuba.com/generationy/

Justin Delacour 4:14 PM  

The issue on blocking roads is the proportionality of the response and what the statutes and arrests are designed to do.

A law is a law, anonymous. No matter where you go, the purpose of the law is to dissuade people from engaging in prohibited activities.

You can't claim that you're operating according to any real standard if you can't show me one other instance in your life when you've waxed moralistic about a so-called "violation" of people's "right" to block roads.

As for the "proportionality of the response" to protesters' road-blockages, do you have any method of comparing the proportionality of the response in different countries? Judging from your posts, you would seem to have no real method of comparison. That's the problem.

The Chavez administration is out to intimidate the opposition through legal harassment, tear gas and rhetorical bombast on state-owned media.

Tear gas? Well, here we have another double standard, I see. Tear gas is used to control protests in almost every country of the world. When I was in Quito in the mid-1990s, the police would tear-gas rock-throwing university students almost every day. No matter where you go in Latin America, people get tear-gassed ALL THE TIME. But only in the Venezuelan case does the use of tear gas suddenly become a "violation" of "human rights."

And how exactly does "rhetorical bombast on state television" qualify as a human rights violation? If corporate media engage in rhetorical bombast, are they also violating human rights? Or does that "standard" apply only to Venezuelan state media?

In a democracy folks lean towards hearing people out, not shutting them up.

Have you ever even been to Venezuela? Judging from the facts that (1) you didn't know the gender of the country's Attorney General and (2) you absurdly compare Hugo Chavez to Idi Amin, I'm guessing that you've never been to the country.

Let me tell you something about Venezuela. I can walk up to almost any kiosk in Caracas and have my pick of a whole range of newspapers that malign the Chavez government on a daily basis. I can pick up El Universal (ultra-rightist). I can pick up El Nacional (centrist and anti-Chavista). Or I can pick Tal Cual (centrist and anti-Chavista).

In fact, I would venture to say that Venezuelans have ready access to a broader range of political perspectives than Americans do.

Lastly, I think one ought to consider the Nixonian/Pinochet/Castro/
Cambodia/SouthAfrica/Poland/
North&South Korea examples from the 1970s.


No, it's not worth considering because Venezuela is in no way comparable to any of those countries. By the most conventional of liberal-democratic standards, Venezuela comes nowhere close to any of the aforementioned countries. Venezuela has internationally-recognized democratic elections. Despite what you may think, it has a thriving opposition media. And the opposition most certainly has the right to protest.

So you might want to consider taking the kinds of things you hear with a grain of salt and withholding judgement until such time as you see for yourself how things work in Venezuela.

Anonymous,  6:38 PM  

"You can't claim that you're operating according to any real standard if you can't show me one other instance in your life when you've waxed moralistic about a so-called "violation" of people's "right" to block roads."

I have attended and spoken out, comrade, but you just are unwilling to read. For example I have participated in many protests concerning since South Africa in the 1980s to Tienamen Square to Mexico to Iran to Argentina. Two prior posts mention my experience with the latter but you seem to just ignore inconvenient facts and fabricate alternative realities.

"As for the "proportionality of the response" to protesters' road-blockages, do you have any method of comparing the proportionality of the response in different countries? Judging from your posts, you would seem to have no real method of comparison. That's the problem."

No, Venezuela's actually handing out over 2,000 fines and demanding court appearances is to me sufficiently past my human rights threshold (that should be about zero for a plainly political protest without violence).

I never compared Idi Amin to Chavez. I said his defenders used the same tired logic as you use. Big difference, professor. Same for comparing to the other countries. The issue is not is Venezuela as bad as South Korea--my whole argument is against your use of such relativism-- but what does one learn about turning around decaying human rights situations from other examples? Concerned protesting citizens matter and they need the support of the international community. Really bad analysis again, professor.

I am sorry that international organizations such as the UN and PEN international, among many others, are rightfully concerned about your beloved Venezuelan government. However the situation isn't any clearer due to your self-proclaimed, expert, "firsthand knowledge" of Venezuela. To the Chavistas you are just a useful fool. It is clear in your case that the PhD degree simply means "Piled higher and Deeper."

Justin Delacour 8:22 PM  

I have attended and spoken out, comrade

Whether you've "attended and spoken out" tells me nothing about whether there is another instance in your life when you've waxed with righteous indignation about a so-called "violation" of people's "right" to block roads.

Basically, what you're saying is that you have no real standard upon which you operate. You just come up with stuff willy-nilly because that's what's ideologically convenient for you.

You'd be a good fit in the State Department.

No, Venezuela's actually handing out over 2,000 fines and demanding court appearances is to me sufficiently past my human rights threshold (that should be about zero for a plainly political protest without violence).

Oh, so handing out fines for blocking roads is now a "human rights violation"?

Never mind that you've never applied such a "standard" to any other country in the world.

If your "standard" is that "zero" people should be fined for peacefully blocking roads, you should certainly be able to point me to other instances in which other democracies' penalties for such activities has raised your ire to the point that you've made an issue of it.

I'm looking forward to seeing your "Blocking roads is a human right" banner.

Oh, and you never answered my other question:

And how exactly does "rhetorical bombast on state television" qualify as a human rights violation? If corporate media engage in rhetorical bombast, are they also violating human rights? Or does that "standard" apply only to Venezuelan state media?

Anonymous,  8:42 PM  

It's true I can never match your emotional pitch. You are way far gone, professor. As for your absurd attacks on my character, beliefs and actions, you know nothing. You simply don't respect people who disagree with you. Don't make it personal with me, argue with PEN and the UN. Or countless groups w/o a dog in the fight. Why produce evidence when it is easier to fabricate countercharges. As Hugo's disciple you have learned the populist technique very well. Demonize the other. Whatever you do never admit any shortcomings nor show any introspection. At the end of the day your solidarity with the cause reduces every question to ideology and power. No room for facts, ethics or complicated analysis. And since you are in possession of the truth, you can rest comfortably in this catholic certainty.

It must really suck being a student in one of your classes.

Justin Delacour 10:01 PM  

"Attacks on your character"??

All I've done is to ask you some simple questions to see if your argument stands up to the most rudimentary logical scrutiny. It doesn't.

Anonymous,  7:10 AM  

Where I come from it is clear that if you charge someone with making things up will-nilly, that is an attack on character.

BTW, did some short-sighted fifth grade teacher tell you you were the smartest little boy in the class? You remind of a few people I know that actually believed this when praised in this way. It is a lifetime affliction.

Ciao, profe.

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