I usually try to limit my posts to Venezuelan affairs. Sometimes I break the rule if there is a connection to Venezuela or there is a non-political angle like Vargas Llosa’s Nobel Prize, a joy to anyone who has ever read his work and a tribute to Spanish Literature. My reasoning behind this is simple: I don’t want the affairs of other nations to take over the discussions here, there are blogs about those foreign affairs all over and should be the place to discuss such topics.
Thus, although I was extremely happy to hear about the Nobel peace Prize for Chinese dissident Liu Xiobo, I had no plans to talk about it…
Until Hugo Chavez sharply criticized the opposition’s communique asking the Chinese Government to release the Nobel Prize winner. Chavez’ attacks are gratuitous, the MUD simply asks that someone be freed, much like others in the world asked that Mandela be freed at one time, because Chavez reveals his own autocratic spirit when he says that Liu Xiobo is a “dissident counterrevolutionary…who probably violated Chinese laws”.
Except in a democracy, being a dissident or a counterrevolutionary should be perfectly legal and under international law, there should not be laws that penalize it. And the Chinese attempt to make the matter a Government to Government conflict, when they know that the Nobel Committee is independent of the Norwegian Government. Moreover, the Chinese Government attempted to interfere with the Committee by threatening them even before the award had been announced when Liu Xiobo was known to be a front runner.
But autocrats will be always autocrats and no sooner had Chavez spoken when the Chinese Government announced the house arrest of Liu Xiobo’s wife Liu Xia. The same day, bloggers, academics and lawyers had also been arrested even if some were released afterwards.
Of course, Liu Xia’s only crime is to be married to Liu Xiaobo, thus for Chavez, who loves to bunch and lump people in groups, it must be ok to have a law that says you should not be married to a jailed dissident. Because Liu Xia’s only crime is to express her husband’s thoughts and to be loyal to him.
Liu Xiaobo’s only crime was to be part of the Chapter 8 movement which demanded political reforms on the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The cynical attitude of the Chinese Government was revealed when Xiabo was harassed up to the Olympic Games but jailed only afterwards. Of course, Liu Xiaobo’s fight for human rights began decades earlier, always in defense of human rights, even before Tiananmen Square in 1989.
As for China being an ally of Venezuela, such an alliance only exists in Chavez’ mind, because he gets financing from the Chinese at the expense of Venezuela’s future. One day, Chavez may have to face trial for this and the Chinese may find that Venezuela’s priorities become the future of all Venezuelans and not of a particular political leader or movement.
As my colleague Gioconda San Blas said so eloquently today in Tal Cual, Liu Xiaobo is an example and “These universal figures serve us as guiding lights to value the dimension of the sacrifice that in our country is made with supreme dignity by those who are committed from jails to a similar defense of human rights”
The autocrats of the world may unite in their own defense, but much like in the Mandela case, the people one day will rebel and the ugly truth will be revealed about their abuses and violations of human rights by the autocrats.
And the freedom of our guiding lights will also be our own…
Added: Just to prove our point, another autocrat joins the fray: Evo Morales says that because he is an anti-imperialist he will never get the Peace Prize (Why should he? He is no pacifist or democrat). He also questions the prizes to Liu Xiaobo and to Mario Vargas Llosa. He will never get the Literature Prize either, that’s for sure.