Friday, 2 April 2010

Amnesty International condemns Hugo Chávez' regime

Amnesty International has produced a report condemning the Venezuelan regime of military Hugo Chávez. AI's message starts like this:

"Amnesty International urged the Venezuelan authorities to stop targeting government critics following a series of politically motivated arrests.

At least three individuals seen as opposed to President Hugo Chávez were arrested and charged in March alone. "

You can read the rest here.

I want to say thanks to Amnesty. Still, I would like to stress the fact those detections are not the worst attacks on human rights in current Venezuela. The attacks are constant, widespread and although they may not seem as clear at first sight, they are as or more pernicious.

A government is going against the Human Rights Declaration, when

  • it sends policemen to attack the Venezuelan opposition even if people are just distributing peacefully their flyers as Chavismo does all the time (see here)
  • it promotes hatred towards anyone disagreeing with its project on "Bolivarian socialism". In Spanish here: "be sure that if the inhabitants of Miranda state voted for the opposition and this gets into power there, they will start to planify the war". In Spanish here: "if the population of Carabobo [state] allows that the oligarchy and above all the coup monger and pro-Yankee Polluelo (reference to current opposition governor Salas), I will probably have to take out the tanks to defend to people of Carabobo". There is a lot more like that in every speech, on the government TV and radio programmes.
  • the whole judiciary is controlled by the government and there is no fair process
  • the government does anything it can - legally or not - to make regional governments of opposition groups collapse.
See here for more (not updated, as I don't have enough time, but things haven't improved)

Venezuela still has a TV channel, Globovision, that is very critical of Chávez. It is a Venezuelan version of Fox News and Chavismo benefits from it as the channel can show it as a Potemkin village of "freedom". The government very well knows less than 28% of the population can actually watch that channel: only those who live in Caracas, Valencia or in those houses with cable or satellite dish around the country, which are a minority. We still have some critical newspapers, even if they have a very low circulation and few people read anything in Venezuela.
Still: things are deteriorating more and more. Venezuela was not under a Batista when Chávez came to power, so the change had to be more slowly. Venezuela had a dysfunctional democracy, but democracy all the same. The governments before Chávez had just been receiving for over a decade 12 to 18 dollars per oil barrel instead of $70+ now.

Venezuela is far from being a Cuba. There are loads of petrodollars and although misery is increasing again and there is no sustainable development, you don't see the generalized poverty as in Cuba.

The current government has total control of the electoral powers, of the judiciary system and it diverts money legally allocated for regions so that the local opposition governments collapse. Chávez will increase repression and promote tension. He will emasculate the National Assembly if need be and use the consejos in the same way as others used the Soviets: to increase control over people while pretending to have "participatory democracy". Chávez will speed up expropiations and promote the emigration of people who disagree.

We need to promote a change and do it in a peaceful way. We need to be aware there are lots of mines on the road. We need to promote real, open debates in Venezuela and not parallel monologues. We must promote pluralism and fair play. This has to be a Venezuelan evolution but we need the world's attention.

I also want to thank here Vaclav Havel and Garry Kasparov, among others, for their words regarding Venezuela. You can read them here.

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