Friday, April 02, 2010

Amnesty International and Venezuela

Amnesty International issued a press release criticizing the Venezuelan government for arresting Hugo Chávez's political opponents.  The Venezuelan government has not responded, though I expect it will include words like "Empire," "lies," and "venceremos."  Chávez himself was too busy to respond, as he was preparing for what he calls the "post-petroleum" era by, well, getting Russian help for oil exploration.


Anonymous,  4:03 PM  

Will Latin leftists finally recognize Chavez is becoming a dictator? Will they even care? Will all the fools that talked about democracy in Honduras realize the situation in Venezuela is much much worse?

leftside 5:23 PM  

Chávez himself was too busy to respond, as he was preparing for what he calls the "post-petroleum" era by, well, getting Russian help for oil exploration.

Umm, he was referring to the Russian help in setting up a nuclear energy program - as was stated right there in the first paragraph of your link.

As evidence of human rights abuses, Amnesty cites the case of Wilmer Azuaje, "a critic of President Chávez"... "accused of reportedly insulting and hitting a woman police officer. He has since then been released but faces prosecution." That's interesting. One might naively think that a women being beaten by a man might be the real case of abuse. But since the batterer is a critic of Chavez, it must be political.

The Amnesty press release retreads the suspension of broadcast licenses for RCTV and other TV channels, but neglects the minor fact that all are back on the air without problem, having simply decided to follow the law and broadcast important Government speeches.

AI also very interestingly neglects the case of Gustavo Azocar, a very prominent opposition activist who was released from jail after he was cleared of 2/4 charges by a Venezuelan court last week. He was a cause celebre by AI and HRW until he was found guilty of fraud and forgery relating to a business dealing with the State (pocketing profits from the Lottery). Why the silence now? Or they admitting he was in fact guilty of crime unrelated to politics?

The cases against Paz and Zuloaga are more complex and deserve serious reflection. Their cases are the first examples of prosecution under the new media laws many were worried about - basically making it a crime to knowingly lie and incite panic or violence. Zuloaga had tried to pass off a discredited version of the 2002 coup, while Paz said Venezuela "facilitated" drug trafficking. Both have said they have been treated well and will have their days in court. But the law is the law - like it or not (I am not a big fan of that one - though I do understand it in the context of what I have seen take place in the Venezuelan media over the last few years - and how that is used to incite people to take undemocratic actions.

leftside 1:40 AM  

And now exhibit e of e of AIs case, Richard Blanco, has been freed by a Venezuelan court - and permitted to return to public office.

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