Some 19 civilians, including a Spanish citizen, were allegedly shot dead by Chávez supporters and minor government officials, during the massive opposition march that led to his brief ousting in April.
Observer hears that, under pressure from angry Oxford academics, the event’s organisers have sheepishly changed the billed topic to “Globalisation and Poverty”.
Chávez might recall General Augusto Pinochet’s unexpectedly prolonged visit to the UK. Observer understands that certain files are sitting on the desk of none other than Spanish prosecutor Judge Baltasar Garzon, who gained fame when he filed charges some years ago against Pinochet.
But that may be the least of Chávez’s worries. With labour leaders and opposition businesses demanding immediate elections and his resignation, he may soon find himself out of a job.[From The Financial Times, via Miguel]
Archive for October 16th, 2002
Mr Ranty Islam
International Human Rights Seminar
Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
I acknowledge your e-mail extending apologies on behalf of the
Centre of Socio-Legal Studies of the University of Oxford, for the
offensive statement against my person posted on your web site. As you are
aware, the slanderous statement was seen for quite a number of persons. To
mjention only one, I learnt about it, only after Professor Simon Keynes of
Trinity College, Cambridge, alerted me as he complained to the authorities
of Oxford University via e-mail. A copy of its message is attached for your
examination to keep a record of the original text posted in your web page.
Being this the case and in need of reparation and satisfaction
since the sole email is not sufficient for me, I demand, as it is
customary, that you post in the same web page a proper note of apology,
next to your call for the Statement regarding President Chavez seminar.
Only a gesture like the one requested, that reaches the public that saw
your slanderous statement against my person, could be considered by myself,
sufficient and compensatory to clear my name of any misconception about my
academic qualifications and personal honesty regarding expressions of
beliefs that your statement might have produced in its readers.
Regarding your technical excuse of confusing IP addresses for
e-mails received at your Centre, as you can imagine it is very little what
I can do to help you explain the blunder since I am not an expert on IP
networking. Whenever I log into forums or send e-mails and to avoid
misunderstandings, I clearly identify myself, as you are aware I did in
dealing with your Centre. I, like very many Venezuelans, use the Internet
service provided by CANTV and I normally log from a computer on a public or
university site. Given the fact that many people in my country share public
Internet connections, you should be more careful when drawing conclusions
based upon the questionable belief that IP addresses are unique in
Venezuela. This mistake that lead you to assume that I was not whom I say I
was, is the best example of how superficially you know issues of my
country. If the factual support for your decision to invite Hugo Chavez
Frías was based upon the same type of superficial analysis shown in my
case, then no wonder that you are bound to blunder with this seminar.
At 10/16/02 / 12:13 PM, you wrote:
>Dear Professor Requena,
>On behalf of the International Human Rights Seminar at the Centre for
>Socio-Legal Studies, I am writing to extend our sincere apologies to you
>for the offence that the statement on our www page may have caused.
>You will have noticed that the statement your complaint referred to, has
>been withdrawn from the www page and in fact this was done immediately
>after we had received your email.
>Please allow me to explain the context in which this matter has arisen:
>On Saturday, 12 October at 3.13 pm we received an email which identifies
>you as the sender. The header of this email states that this email has
>originally been sent from a computer with the IP address (that identifies
>every computer on the global internet, but see below):
>In addition this email carries the identifier ‘requenajaime.cantv.net’
>At 4.25 pm the same day a message was posted on the discussion board of
>our www page that quotes you as the author.
>Our www server logged this message as having been sent from a computer
>with the same IP address
>The next day we received another series of messages on our discussion
>board, for which again the same IP address was logged: 188.8.131.52
>Among these is one message that was posted at 4.10pm on Sunday 13 October
>that quotes as author “Ambassador ToroHary” (same spelling) together with
>an email address that looks like (but in fact is not) the email address of
>the Venezuelan Ambassador in London.
>So then , we saw ourselves confronted with a series of different messages
>from different people that appeared to have all been sent from the same
>computer. In addition at least one of these people (the “ambassador”) is
>certainly not the person they are claiming to be, with several more
>writing as “anonymous”.
>Please understand that given these data we had no choice but to doubt the
>true identity of any of these people writing to us, but we appreciate that
>in your case we were wrong.
>I am aware that in cases were people use their home computers to log into
>an account they have with an internet provider, they may get issued with a
>temporary IP address. For a large provider (which I guess is the case for
>CANTV), however, it seems rather unlikely (but not impossible of course)
>that several people should get issued with one and the same IP address,
>especially in the time frame within which we received the postings.
>We shall be extremely grateful if you could provide us with any more
>information that could help to resolve this confusion regarding the origin
>of these particular messages and emails.
>Again we hope you accept our apology.
>Ranty Islam [Mr]
Jaime Requena, Sc.D.
Académico y Profesor Titular
> > Dear
> > My enquiries have produced little that is new. The basic
> > facts are that the seminar which he is to address is not a
> > University event. The University is unhappy that he is
> > coming here and, like this College, many University
> > institutions have declined to have anything to do with his
> > visit.
> > The University’s briefing to the media is as follows:
> > BEGINS
> > During his visit President Chavez will not be staying as a
> > guest of the University of Oxford. President Chavez will
> > be on a private visit, following an invitation from Dr
> > William Pepper as Convenor of the International Human
> > Rights Seminar, which is unrelated to the University.
> > Whilst some rooms in University buildings will be used for
> > the conference, it is not an Oxford University event.
> > ENDS
> > All the best –
(the master of Saint Anthonys)
Professor Denis Galligan
Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
Thank you very much for your e-mail in reply to my letter of
protest for the invitation issued to the President of my country to talk
on Humans Rights by the Centre of Socio Legal Studies of Oxford University.
In no way I am pretending to infringe the right of speech of Hugo Chávez
Frías. Far from that, I am firm believer in responsable free speech.
For years, I have proudly follow the steps of my father -one of
the founder’s members of our democracy and responsible for ousting the late
dictator Perez Jimenez- crusading my community -science and technology-
for a better and freer country, sometimes with letters like this. Thus, I
feel free to question the connotation of absolutism that you pretend the
free speech concept has. I trust that it never gets put to a test in
matters that are crucial to your heart or country, such as being asked to
give the floor to a mass murderer, a profligate or an ignorant and, thus,
help to spread among students and Dons highly questionable ideas.
The main point that I, among others, have raised concerns the
qualifications of President Chavez to dissert about human rights of my
country. Is the opinion of many that he is the less qualified Venezuelan to
address that issue, either in Caracas or Oxford. Perhaps to others, with a
different set of values regarding civil liberties -in places like Havana,
Baghdad or Tripoli- he could please the audience with his actions. If your
Centre is interested to learn about the issue at hand, I would have thought
that you can do much better by looking among other highly qualified
Venezuelans, some of them with degrees from your university, that could
tackle the problem with much more expertise and immemsely higher moral stature.
Faced with the questionable justifications invoked in your letter
and our objections regarding President Chávez extremely poor record
upholding peace and justice among human beings, I cannot avoid thinking
that his visit to your Centre bears the marks of compliance to high office.
Which happens to be an extremely poor consolation in view of the impending
intellectual discomfort that Oxonians are about to experience.
Jaime Requena, Sc.D. (Cantab)
As a graduate and former Professor of Cambridge University I take the
opportunity to express my disgust to learn that the Centre for Socio- Legal
Studies of Oxford University, in its program INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
SEMINAR is receiving the President of my country, Mr. Hugo Chavez Frias, to
speak and address the students and fellows of Oxford University. President
Chavez record in human rights is less than despicable, starting for its
disdain for human life of the soldiers its commanded during his intent to
overthrow the government, back in February 4, 1992. More recently, from the
presidency of the republic he allowed, if not conducted himself, the
slaughter of civilian during a pacific demonstration on April 11, 2002. If
these acts against humanity were not enough to in validate him to talk
under the umbrella of human rights, Oxford University should know that he
is conducting a deliberate and cruel program against our population, having
increased by 2 million over the past three years the number of our people
living under extreme poverty; isolating our country by siding with
terrorist countries such as Cuba, Libia and Irak. But moreover, Mr. Chavez,
consistently denigrated of academics and intellectuals, doing every thing
under his power to annihilate the Venezuelan academic elite. In fact, we
have in Venezuela a rather small number of people devoted to high sciences,
technologies and humanities and instead of promoting growth and development
Chavez government is making sure that there are ousted out of their jobs
and cutting research funding. I, my self, is a vivid example, having been
ousted of my post at the “Instituto Internationa de Estudios Avanzados”
(IDEA) of Caracas and having been ordered by the tribunal to be restated to
my job, as Professor of Biophysics, I am still waiting, 3 years now, that
its puppet Supreme Court validates the already given sentence. It
happens, that it directly affects his Minister for Science and Technology,
responsible of running IDEA. At the time of writing over one million people
inundated the streets of Caracas in protest or the repressive and
authoritarian measures taken by Mr. Chavez in the last weeks and asking for
his resignation. I know quite well academic life in Great Britain, not only
for having obtained from Cambridge University my Ph.D. in 1974 but having
being Simón Bolívar Professor of the Centre for Latin American Studies of
Cambridge University (1994-1995), Fellow of Churchill College and been
awarded a Sc.D. degree in 1997 by Cambridge University. Thus, I would be
utterly surprised if my alma mater, Cambridge University, would lend
promote the anti-humanitarian cause of Mr. Chavez.
Yours very truly
Jaime Requena, Sc.D.
Member of the National Academy of Sciences
A friend, Cambridge graduate, fellow scientist and long time acquaintance of mine Jaime Requena has been very active in questioning the seminar that the International Human Rights Seminar is holding on Oct. 17 th. with Hugo Chavez as a speaker. I understand according to the Financial Times that they have had the decency of changing the name to Globalization and Poverty. (I imagine Mr. Chavez will talk about how to create poverty, he has a lot of expertise in this field, having created close to 2 million new poor people in his brief stint as President)
In any case. Dr. Requena has been kind enought to give me copies of his correspondence with Oxford University and IHRS which I will compile in a new section called the “Requena Files” on the left. Enjoy!!
(If Oxford University can’t even get their IP’s straight, you wonder if they even know where Venezuela is, let alone the sterling record of Hugo Chavez in violating Civil Rights, the Constitution and Human Rights)
Venezuela’s new Constitution establishes a number of mechanisms for citizen participation in the political process. This includes anything from input on new bills, planning and decision as well as the possibility of calling refrenda on issues or to revoke anyone elected within the terms of the Constitution. Some of these rights are, in my mind, too cumbersome for a working democracy, but they are there. Now the Chavez administration and his party Movimiento Quinta Republica (MVR) are getting ready to propose to the National Assembly (which they control) a bill that will regulate these mechanisms of participation.
If anyone still believes that Hugo Chavez and his MVR have any concern for democracy, free speech or civil rights. I quote directly from the proposed bill, written, proposed and supported only by Chavez’s Deputies in teh National Assembly (Translated by me as acurately as possible);
“Article 6. paragraph 2. Participation requires of a State policy in all its instances and levels, to guarantee true and plural information to all citizens and to facilitate access to the same media for the free exercise of freedom speech”
Imagine this, the State is the guarantor of truth and plural information. Sounds like censorship to me, but read on.
“Article 52 Paragraph 3. Any call for a referendum…..Equally, the next day following publication, it will be broadcast for free through the communications media, both private and public, if it is a natioanl refrendum and by those of teh areas affected by it in the other cases. This publication will bee done for free up to three times during teh campaign”
Paragraph 4. All communicatiosn media, both private and public, will have to disseminate for free an isntitutional campaign to promote citizen participation, without the possibility of giving an opinion as to the content of the vote.
Again I ask why? If private media have to do this for free, why should the state have radio or TV stations or even newspapers. I thought that these were in charge of doing this. Once again this is like a new tax.
Now it gets even better
“Article 59, pargraph 4. The National Electoral Council will have to watch so that all communications media, both public and private, provide an equilibrated treatment in news broadcasts, opinion programs and debates of the positions for or against the question taht is the object of a referendum. Not fullfilling this by any media will be sanctioned according to this law and others that regulate the matter”
Read: CENSORSHIP. This is simply outright censorship. As an example, imagine a referendum to impeach President Chavez, the media will have to provide balanced views of for and against, even in the case that 90% of tehe popalation is in favor of impeaching him. Moreover, if you don’t do so, your concession may be closed. Hello!! Freedom of Speech???. Imagine the minimun group of people possible get together to ask for a referendum and they have to have 50% propaganda. Sounds like limiting freedom of speech to me.
So, no matter what teh topic, how many people, or anything the media will have to provide free services. Why? Is this a new tax, only on the media?
“Article 131: For the control of the fullfillemnt of the acces to all media, truth and impartiality by all citizens……the National Council of Supervision of the media is created”
The actual word in Spanish for supervision used in the bill is “vigilancia”. I guess the name of the Council says it all. Censorship, censorship, censorship.
There are many others articles such as one with penalties for devoting unequal time or presence of one group over the other. The absence of groups. The absence of contrasting opinions. Need I say more? This is the Government that some international Human Right and Freedom of Speech organizations want to support. Wake up HRW, OAS, Carter Center at al., this miltaristic, repressive and dictatorial Government may charm you into beliveing in them, but we see it everyday and can’t be fooled!!