Archive for June 5th, 2007

The pathethic People’s Ombudsman once again fails to defend the people’s rights

June 5, 2007

And you have to wonder about that little pathetic man, the People’s Ombudsman German Munadarain , whose position in Spanish is called “The People’s Defender”, but who seldom is seen around when it is time to actually defend anyone’s rights. Yesterday he suggested he was actually outraged at the Human Rights Committee of the OAS for having the audacity to request a list of those detained during last week’s demonstrations.

According to Mundarain, the OAS Committe (CIDH), composed by only people with a track record in the defense of human rights, “invaded” its own functions, when it asked for the list of those students detained during last week’s demonstrations. Mundarain hilariously said that he had to protect the honor of reputation of people and even more hilariously he said that those detained were just those that overstepped the law.

Well, first of all, I wonder where Mr. Mundarain was when the same “honor and reputation” as well as the privacy and human rights were violated and invaded by the Chavez administration via the infamous Chavez/Tascon/Maisanta database which not only contained the names and addresses of over four million Venezuelans who signed the recall petition against President Hugo Chavez, but it also had a list of all of Chavez’ “supporters” classified by their participation in the Government’s “misiones” as well as their participation in recall processes against non-Chavista officials. This list was used to discriminate, fire, deny basic Government services and in hiring and contractual decisions. The list was so perverse, that you could select a voting center and click on a button called “Patriots” to identify those that the software classified mathematically as being pro-Chavez. This list was used for two years in blatant fashion and is still in use today by teh Government, even though Chavez himself “ordered” this fascist use of the list to stop, as it had been “enough” in the Dictator’s own words.

And where was Mr. Mundarain when all this happened? How about the honor, reputation and rights of those that were discriminated and identified using this devilish tool of the Chavista Government? He never said anything, investigated anything or even publicly said anything about it.

And if the OAS’ Human Rights Commission is asking for information is because there has been so little of it. First of all, hundreds were detained for over 24 hours and held incommunicado in violation of the country’s laws. Second, many were charged with blocking the streets which in itself is not a crime in Venezuelan law. But more importantly, even today the discrepancies between the numbers given by the Prosecutor’s Office (only 130 detained during last weeks’ demonstrations) and those of Mr. Mundarain’s office (276 people detained during the demonstrations), leave a lot to be desired. Moreover and very curiously, not a single policeman has been charged, despite the fact that there are dozens of pictures showing police officers carrying concealed weapons during the demonstrations, which in itself is a crime, without regards to the violent repression of the demonstrators in many instances as well as the practical news blackout by the official media.

If Mr. Mundarain were doing his job, truly defending the people and not his job, then the CIDH would not have to request any information. Until he is changed or imprisoned, Venezuelans only have the legal intervention of the CIDH of the OAS to defend them, because the People’s Ombudsman has miserably and totally failed his mandate in the last seven years.

Another hard hitting report by Reporters without Borders on the RCTV case.

June 5, 2007

Reportes Without Borders (RSF) released its final report on the visit to Venezuela to look into the RCTV case and once againm I found the report expertely written, these guys not only understood the issues but wrote about them once again with extraordinary precision. The report entitled : “Closure of Radio Caracas Television Consolidates Media hegemony” goes right to the point and details why the move was simply political:

“Reporters Without Borders went on a fact-finding trip to Venezuela from 24 to 28 May, meeting with national and foreign journalists, media owners, media specialists, human rights activists and political analysts. It was at RCTV on the day it stopped broadcasting. Its requests for meetings with government officials and representatives of public and pro-government media went unanswered. Their silence was as eloquent as the comments of the people it did meet, and tends to confirm that RCTV’s closure was not just an administrative measure. On the contrary, it was a political move, one that establishes government hegemony over the broadcast media and constitutes a grave danger for editorial pluralism. It also revealed a new aspect of this political system known as “Chavism” – one that could be called media hegemony.”

“Imagine yourself with a TV remote control, zapping between five or six TV stations all showing exactly the same images of the president giving a speech. This bizarre situation is the almost daily lot of Venezuelans. The president’s speeches rarely go on for less than three hours and some go for seven if he is feeling inspired. Far from limiting himself to cutting ribbons at openings, making the occasional formal address to the nation or praising the recipients of awards, Chávez delivers dissertations. “

“The licence did end on 27 May but RCTV could under the law request its renewal. Venevisión, whose licence expired on the same date, succeeded [on 23 May, the same day that the supreme court’s constitutional division rejected RCTV’s appeal] in being able to continue to broadcast for another five years.” What is the reason for this different treatment?

“Let us sum up. Complete control of the state, government and armed forces. No opponents in parliament, as the opposition boycotted the 2005 legislative elections. A ruling party that is virtually the only party. Twenty-two out of twenty-four state governors who are entirely loyal. And soon, a largely neutralised civil society.

By closing RCTV and above all by taking its equipment for Tves, Chávez has tightened his grip on the last bastion that was holding out – the media. “

“As the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuelan decided unilaterally to close RCTV;
Reporters Without Borders intends to refer the case of RCTV to the United Nations Human Rights Council, whose next session will be in Geneva from 11 to 18 June, to the UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression and to the Council of Europe. The press freedom organisation also intends to refer the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights IACHR) and to its special rapporteur for freedom of expression and information. Referring the case to the IACHR obliges the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to cooperate with the commission and attend any hearing it convenes.”

It’s certainly nice to know some people dig in and “get it” in contrast with this reporter who in very unethical fashion and even though he claims to have lived in Venezuela, managed to selectively ignore some of the most important facts of the case, such as the fact that there were other stations involved and not a single legal decision has ruled against the  TV station. In fact,  the only legal decision on what happened in 2002, was handed down by Chavez’ hand-picked Supreme Court, when it ruled in the case of the Generals involved in Chavez’ departure, that on that date there was a  “power vacuum” and not a coup.  In fact, it was a Chavez’ Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, who later became his Minister of Defense, who came on TV and told Venezuela and the world that Chavez had resigned. Without that, none of the events of Chavez departure in 2002 would have occurred. The Chief of Staff was never  asked by the Prosecutor to explain why he did what he did on that fateful day.