Archive for December 2nd, 2002

What’s going on at Human Rights Watch?

December 2, 2002

Previously I wrote a couple of articles on Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization based in Washington and New York, which in my opinion has been extremely soft on the Chavez administration and really tough on the opposition to the point of being simply too biased. On October ninth and tenth of this year I wrote articles about this peculiar behavior, given that in its last statement on Venezuela on October 9th., HRW was criticizing the opposition for things that it could criticize the Chavez administration  almost weekly. Remarkably, HRW has been silent since then, when the Chavez administration has committed what I believe are the most important violations to human and civil rights since the April massacre. While I sent copies of my writings to HRW, I have not heard from then since.

Key to understanding the strange behavior of HRW appears to be the person in charge of the Andean region, Jose Miguel Vivanco. Mr. Vivanco, who I understand is originally from Chile, appears to be suffering from the syndrome of his own past catching up to him, since he was close  to the Allende regime by way of his father. Thus we appear to be suffering from the biased nightmares of a person who is clearly incompetent and unqualified to be a Director of a reputable Human Rights organization.

That Mr. Vivanco is key to understanding this absurd behavior on the part of HRW, can be confirmed by a protest published on Nov. 21st. in Bogota’s daily El Tiempo by the Colombian group Tradicion y Accion, parts of which I translate here:

Colombia: Human Rights Watch accused of unprecedented tolerance.

Mr. Jose Miguel Vivanco, Director for Human Rights Watch, an organization which claims to defend human rights, exhibits unprecedented tolerance with the guerrillas and promotes a strange persecution against those that fight against them, said the non-government organization Tradicion y Accion in a document published in Bogota’s El Tiempo.

The eloquence of Mr. Vivanco can not be heard to denounce guerrilla-terrorists, but it is used repeatedly and unjustly to accuse the military and policemen who bravely defend the country and specially those that have been most effective against in the task of battling subversion, guerrilla and drug traffickers, the main origin of most of our problems.

Tradicion y Accion reminds HRW that Colombian justice has investigated these charges presented previously by Mr. Vivanco and that when it really proved the crimes of police or Army members, including the links to paramilitary groups which operate outside the law, they have been severely punished, but in the majority of cases it was proven that the accusations were badly intentioned lies launched by the friends and collaborators of the subversion to whom Mr. Vivanco appears to give more credit than the sentences of Colombian justice.

Tradicion y Accion is sorry about the silence of Human Rights Watch before and after the kidnapping of the President of CELAM and the Bishop of Zipaquira by the FARC guerrillas:”Mr. Vivanco did not say one word to condemn it” and after the Bishop was rescued by the Armed Forces :”once again Mr. Vivanco kept his silence, despite the fact that it was a moment to praise the soldiers, not only for rescuing the victims, but also for preventing that their captivity allow extortive pressures on the church and the country.

Finally Tradicion y Accion mentions that every year more than three thousand people are kidnapped in Colombia, most of them by the guerrillas, almost 100 towns, almost one every three days are destroyed by rockets and bombs of the FARC and ELN: dozens of polivcemn and soldiers have been savagedly assasinated by these terrorist groups and some of them, terribly mutilated and the conflict has induced the migration of two million people.

The statement closes by saying that HRW said that all its statements on the subject are on its webiste, where little can be found on the topic.

Government says strike a failure………what else is new?

December 2, 2002

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The Government continues to say that everything is “normal” and the general strike was only succesful in 20%. The pictures above are from Avenida Francisco de Miranda , one of the main avenues of Caracas at midday. Typically, it would be bumper to bumper. There were a few incidents, but except for the use of tear gas to stop a demonstration by oil workers, nothing too violent. The strike will continue tomorrow. The Minisiter of Labor said the Government will not return to the negotiation table as long as the strike is on, so this may be a test of wills in the end.

Perhaps one of the stupidest things the Government did was to organize a “Megamarket” on a Monday morning in one of the main avenues of Caracas, Avenida Bolivar, to concentrate people there as a way of showing the failure of the strike. The question was how could they close down that avenue on a Monday, and why weren’t the people there working, if everything was so “normal”.


Strike begins, seems even better than the one in October

December 2, 2002

While I am sure the Government by now is saying the strike is a failure, from my house I can see Cota Mill and only once in a while does a car go by. (For those that may not know what Cota Mil is is a heavily trafficked highway north of Caracas). Globovision also has a picture of Cota Mil, comparing a normal day and today, it is not terribly clear, but it will have do for now: