Archive for November 20th, 2008

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty in Venezuela?

November 20, 2008

It appears as if somehow, certain rights have been
suspended in Venezuelan without anyone telling us about it.

to the Vice-Minister of Justice
the Government “incauto”, which means
seized or confiscated, some Bs. 270 million in property from the Makled
brothers, which “will be passed on to the hands of the State”.

Now, I am not sure if the Makled brothers are guilty or
not. Just for background Aldala Makled is (was?) running for Mayor of Valencia
the capital of Carabobo State and about ten days ago, the same Vice-Minister said they had
found 400 Kgs. of cocaine at his brother’s farm. Because the candidate is
co-owner of the farm he was detained and their assets seized.

Note that the Makled brothers are rich and Aldala was not
running as part of the opposition, but as a candidate for his own small party.
He has irked Chavistas for using the same symbols and strategies as Chavez’
PSUV party, such as red shirts and giving away stuff to voters.

Among the assets seized are farms, companies, airplanes, yachts,
land, an airline (Aero postal), a foundation, cars, Hummers and a factory that
makes appliances.

I am not sure what laws this decision was based on, but a
time of such weak institutionality, to confiscate all these assets and transfer
them to the State without a trial and a sentence seems a little bit arbitrary
and certainly implies that the Chavez administration has already established
the guilt of these people before the fact.

Let alone that according to newspapers, the farm where the
drugs were supposedly found was run by Aldala’s brother who still at large and
the link to Aldala was only his ownership of it.

I am sure that some part of the Venezuelan legal code
allows this, but if it bothers me that this is done in this fashion, it bothers
me even more that I have yet to see anyone in the press wondering about this.