Archive for July 16th, 2003

Human Rights Watch’s response to the Vice-President

July 16, 2003


Have to tip my hat to Human Rights Watch giving them very strong praise for their latest letter to the Chavez administration. 2003 has definitely been a dramatic change for the human rights institution after what I thought was a very poor performance in 2002 with regards to Venezuela.


HRW wrote a very tough letter on July 1st. to Hugo Chávez, which was summarily dismissed by the Vice-President as showing ignorance for what is happening in Venezuela. Today’s letter, adressed to the Vice-President,  is very good saying among other jewels:


“First of all I have to convey my deception that you have not addressed any of the important matters included in my letter to President Chávez. HRW is very concerned about the negative effects to freedom of speech that the approval of the law of social responsibility in TV and radio may have. We are also concerned about the investigations being carried out about the content of the programming of four TV stations and the persistent practice of violent attacks against reporters.”


“It is a pity that you have chosen to attack me personally, rather than respond to the merits of the matters addressed in my letter.”


“The only interest of HRW in this matter is to protect freedom of speech in Venezuela. As a matter of fact, your suggestion that “some unnamed mechanism” operated over me to adopt a critical position is irresponsible.”


“My criticisms to the bill…..are inspired on the same principles that have motivated the criticism by the special envoy for freedom of speech of the OAS and the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights.”


“Your statement that the criticism of the bill expressed by HRW are an intromission “on matters that are the strict competence of Venezuelan institutions”, is an inexcusable error. The universal character of the human rights regulations implies that we all have the legitimate right nationally and internationally to denounce the human rights violations that may take place anywhere in the world. ……..In this sense Venezuela not a special case that requires “special treament due to being atypical”.


“We have also insisted constantly that the partiality of the media does not justify under any circumstance any of the repressive measures contemplated in the bill for radio and TV nor the sanctions that are being contemplated against the tour TV networks mentioned previously.”


“Our recommendation that the Government withdraw the bill has been criticized because we are not recognizing the autonomy of the legislative power. We are conscious of the division of powers …We are simple limiting ourselves to point out that the bill was written by a Government office CONATEL, presented to the Assembly by Deputies of the Government’s party and promoted incessantly by President Chavez himself, as well as the members of his Cabinet.


I can only say: Bravo HRW, well said!