Archive for December 12th, 2002

What the OAS Human Rights Commission said today

December 12, 2002

This is a press report of what was said today  by the Organization of American States’ Human Rights Commission. It is nice to know somebody outside has an understanding of what is going on.

 The boldface is mine:

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – A group attached to the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday issued a strong statement urging Venezuela to do more to stem a worsening human rights situation.

The Human Rights Commission, part of the 34-member OAS, said in a statement it was “extremely worried with the worsening of the crisis in Venezuela, characterized by violence, intolerance and a generalized lack of confidence in the institutions of the State.”

Tensions are running high in Venezuela as an 11-day strike by the opposition has cut into vital oil production. The opposition is looking to force out leftist president Hugo Chavez.

Efforts by the OAS’s secretary general, Cesar Gaviria, to broker a peaceful solution to the crisis have so far proved fruitless, despite strong backing from the United States and other Latin American states.

The commission condemned attacks against the independent media and expressed concern over the rise of violent armed civil groups which it said operated with impunity.

It also blasted a decision by a takeover by the military of the Caracas city police from the capital’s anti-Chavez mayor, saying it was “a decision of doubtful legality.”

It was that move which triggered the strike.

The commission said it was “profoundly worried about the systematic attacks against human rights activists” and accused the government of stalling on setting a date for a new human rights’ mission to visit Venezuela.

A previous visit in May concluded Venezuela’s justice system lacked independence and free speech was limited.


Media denounces terror plan

December 12, 2002

The top managers of most of the TV stations in Venezuela are giving a press conference from the Hotel where OAS Secretary Cesar Gaviria is staying in which they are informing him of a plot to destroy their facilities tonight by Chavez’ Bolivarian Circles and paramilitary groups.

PDVSA fires four (three?) top managers

December 12, 2002

PDVSA’s all-powerfull President Ali Rodriguez announced this morning that it had fired four of its top four manager’s including the President of the white-collar worker’s union (never recognized by the Government), its civil association, the President of the petrochemical affiliate Pequiven and a Human Resources manager. The reaction by the workers was swift, within two hours they were holding a worker’s meeting where they are now saying they will join the strike not as individuals but as PDVSA workers. They are calling for the resignation of Ali Rodriguez and Hugo Chavez.

While Rodriguez did say that the President of Pequiven was only removed from his post, other sources say he has also been fired. 

Assembly denies funding for referendum

December 12, 2002

Lost in the myriad of news about the strike, protest and negotiations, the Head of the National Assembly told the Head of the National Electoral Commission (CNE) that the Assembly could not provide the required funding for the Feb. 2nd. consultive referendum. According to the President of the Assembly, such funding falls under the category of an “extraordinary credit” which needs to be approved by the President and the Cabinet before the Assembly considers it.

The refrendum was finally approved last week by the CNE, the Chavez adminsitration has tried to block it in the Supreme Court, so far without success. However, without funding, it is essentially impossible to hold the vote.

Finally: A good BBC report

December 12, 2002

In the interest of fairness, this report by the BBC on Venezuela and the strike is actually fairly accurate.

A new way of marching

December 12, 2002

Sometime around Monday, Venezuelans began marching essentially twice a day. Once whenever the Democratic Coordinator calls for a march, and once again at night in a new form of pot-banging and march at the same time, which started spontaneusly and now has become a daily event at 8 PM. Essentially, rather than simply start banging pots out of your window, people have begun taking to the streets and getting together to walk around their neighborhoods.  Dozens of marches sprout nightly around the city at 8 PM, some of the lasting well beyond 10 PM in a remarkable display of protest.

Pro-Chavez forces attempted in mid-week to short-circuit this type of protest by doing their own pot-banging at 7 PM, but they have not been able to gather the momentum, neither in size nor in the intensity, of the protest, most of them ending well beyond the strat of the opposition protest.

Last night, the oppossition decided to stage a demonstration of support in front of the Globovision TV station, not only as a way of showing their appreciation towards the station, but also as a way of stopping the violent Chavista circles from taking over the outside of the station as they had done the two previous nights. The gathering was a resounding success despite the initial fears of those that went to it, that the Bolivarian circles might show up, but they never did. The demonstration was peaceful, festive and some of the anchormen and anchorwomen came out to join the crowd. Supposedly similar demosntrations of support to the media will be done in the next few days in order to “recover the streets” as one opposition leader called it.