Archive for July 28th, 2005

ABA observer sharply critical of judiciary in Sumate’s case.

July 28, 2005

The American Bar Association sent an observer to Caracas for the preelimianry hearing agaisnt the Suamte leaders. Alek has the complete excellent scoop on the report which is quite critical of the way the case is being handled. Some highlights:

“In the opinion of this observer, both that law as applied in this case
and the criminal proceedings to date fail to meet international

“First, as applied in a novel way in this case, the law is impermissibly vague.”

“Second, the ambiguities in the law should be resolved in a manner consistent with Venezuela’s international legal obligations.”

“Third, the case is brought before a Venezuelan judiciary that fails to meet international standards of judicial independence.”

“Fourth, certain aspects of the pretrial proceedings to date violate due process of law.”

Rule of Law: Gone too!

Reply to Isaias by Teodoro Petkoff

July 28, 2005

Yesterday I talked about the Editorial that threw the Attorney
General/Prosecutor into a rage. Today Tal Cual Editor Petkoff, a former
very good friend of  Prosecutor Isaias Rodriguez, gives him hell
for his attitude. Well deserved. Will Isaias also investigate whether
he can jail Teodoro?

Reply to Isaias
by Teodoro Petkoff

the poet Isaias had his fuses blown. He accused the Andean Commission
of Jurists, the Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil) and 83
jurists from nine countries of “improper interference “ in Venezuelan
matters, because they demanded respect for the constitutional rights of
lawyer Carlos Ayala Corao, President, by the way, of the Andean
Commission of Jurists, who has been charged by the Prosecutor’s Office.
He announced the opening of an investigation of daily El Universal to
find out if an editorial of that daily was a punishable offense and
eventually take the appropriate measures in the case. He also accuses
Tal Cual of being part of an international conspiracy, of “harassment”
against him, promoted according to guidelines of the new manual for
coups, elaborated by the CIA. Isaias, without any doubt, is delirious.

of all, it is surprising that the representative from a Government
characterized by its intromissions, whose President frequently gives
opinions about internal matters of other countries, without hiding its
links with political sectors of those countries, would complain abut
the “intromission by the alluded international organizations”. The
world of today, Isaias, is like that. Countries are more interdependent
than ever and no Government can believe it is sheltered from
international scrutiny. If the prosecutor behaved correctly, nobody
would demand anything.

the Prosecutor’s office, Isaías himself has said it, is a body which
you can have little trust in and it forces jurists from the Continent
to have a watchful eye given its actions.

second place, the announcement of the opening of an investigation
against El Universal already shows that those who are concerned with
the respect of the constitutional rights of Venezuelans on the part of
the Government, are quite correct in being worried. Isaias attempts to
place obstacles on the exercise of freedom of speech. He pretends to
charge El Universal with nothing but “a crime of opinion”. Isaias has
revealed to us his authentic vocation as a censor of the press.

In the third place, the reference to Tal Cual is frankly incomprehensible.

occupy ourselves with the Prosecutor’s office we don’t need to consult
any CIA manual, it is sufficient with the digital page of the Public
Ministry (MP) where Isaias places his considerations about the
organization he directs. It is the Prosecutor himself who has said that
the MP is full of “family” groups, of groups of “friends”, of people
permanently “on leave”, of “cattle rustlers”, of “despots” with those
below them and “disrespectful” of those above them. First he spoke of
“cliques that brake, delay, slow down, block” . Later he corrected
himself and qualified them as “ship nuts*”, which are impossible to
loosen up. The poet denounced that his underlings “lack the preparation
and do not have the technical knowledge in order to make decisions”.
How does he pretend when he says things as serious (and as true) of his
civil servants, that people abroad should not be concerned about the
administration of justice in our country? Isaias complains because El
Universal spoke of “justice on its knees”, but if we rely only on what
he says, it is truly not on its knees, but on the floor, like a rag.

* In Spanish this implies you are so “screwed” into your position, nobody can remove you

Another threat to freedom of the press

July 28, 2005

For the
last three years, I have been translating the Editorials of Tal Cual by
Petkoff, which have been extremely critical of the Government. I have
yet to hear a Government official complain about them. That is why it
truly remarkable to hear that the Government is opening a
penal investigation against El Universal for the Editorial below. For the last
two days the “Attorney General/Prosecutor” has been reacting viciously against the Editorial in El Universal
which I translate below. This is simply another sign of the intolerance and
fascist streak that runs through this Government.

Freedom of the Fress? Give me a

If the Attorney General could
take pride in what he has done in the last few years, maybe he could have complained
about being criticized harshly. But to suggest that the following Editorial
subjects his Office to public “scorn” is simply to ratify what most Venezuelans
both pro and against Chávez feel. There is no Justice and rule of law in Venezuela. There
have been hundreds of deaths and injured in political marches that remain
unexplained, there has been an increase in crime and police brutality that has
no counterpart in the number of cases prosecuted or convicted, there have been
over a thousand cases of “disappeared” people in rural states in the hands of
the police (mostly “pueblo”), there have been daily deaths in the country’ jails and we have yet
to hear about what is being done about any of it. Or what Mr. Rodriguez, responsible for Justice in Venezuela is doing about it.

corruption runs rampant in
the Chavez administration, not one case of courruption has been
prosecuted, while hundreds of
members of the opposition including human rights activist of
stature are harassed and prosecuted regularly. Meanwhile, people Chavez
has fired fo corruption, resurface in oether prominent Government
positions like the former Head of Fogade. And we will not forget the
cases, such as the death of his Prosecutor and close confidant Danilo
Anderson, whose wealth, lifestyle and behavior
have yet to be explained, after the Government rendered him the honors of a dead
patriot and Mr. Rodríguez shed his crocodile tears for him after his assassination

The Attorney General has made a
mockery out of the rule of law and due process, choosing instead to support the
Government of which he was the first Vice President, a fact that will not be
forgotten by Venezuelans when the day of reckoning comes. And now he threatens one of the very rights he is
supposed to defend, the right of free speech. Nobody will ever forget his
partisan role on Chávez’ return on April 12th.,
arms up in the air in celebration as the corpses were still warm
and  leaving the murders of innocents Venezuelans in the black
hole of the
impunity that permeates this administration. Mr. Isaias Rodriguez
the fascism, cynism and intolerance of this Government. What he has
done today is simply
another attempt to muzzle free speech and silence one of the few voices
freedom left in Venezuela.
If rather than threatening and accusing El Universal, Mr. Rodríguez
investigated the cases presented every Sunday in that paper’s “Expediente”
cases he would have made a positive contribution to the country.

But he is not interested in that,
he is among those that believe that the fake revolution is immortal and he
wants to have a prominent role in it. We will never forget.

Here is the translation of the
meek editorial that has irked the
Attorney General and has made him behave like the partisan and mediocre
politician and human being he really is:

on its knees

To subordinate justice to one
ideological dimension, subtracting form it efficiency and autonomy, is to place
the engine out of the rails, leaving the wagons defenseless and abandoned. That
is why there has been an increasing lack of legitimacy on the part of the
Public Ministry and the Courts

The center of interest from the
point of view of the news is crime, guerrillas, paramilitary groups and the lack
of security in general. The center of interest may also be criminalility, but what
should concentrate the greatest efforts of public administration is the penal
process, when the index of convictions is very scant and impunity triumphs.

In this context are the statements
by the Executive Director of COFAVCIC, analizing the specific modus operandi,
which reveals deviations and perversions in security forces and in the administration
of justice itself. That is the gravity of the alarm, when you prove that all
citizens in Venezuela
are subject to a very high risk of abuse.

As Cofavic has pointed out, the
politization of the penal system and its inefficiency, besides the inexistence
of a policy against crime, which is a set of actions focused on directing the
prevention and reduction of criminality in a ratiuonal and scientific way, all
end up in this increasing insecurity.

As a consequence, penal justice
has to be professional and has to be coordinated with prevention, investigation
repression and the treatment at penitentiaries, because the relation between justice
and society tends to destabilize the latter even more. From it, the feeling of
insecurity in the face of Government statements and the manipulation of

A large part of the directives
and procedures for social control demand a profound revision and as the
absolute priority is the rational combat of poverty, with the participation of
social, economic and political sectors of the country.

The fight against poverty is not the exclusive realm of
anyone but of the Nation, understood as a productive and harmonic set.

There has to be work closely done among specialists both
national and foreign in maintaining the decentralization of police forces,
improve the regional mechanisms for coordination and strengthen justice making it
professional, autonomous sand objective. That is the highest aspiration of all
the citizens.