Archive for July 13th, 2009

Two more double standards at work: Chavez’ brother and the not so innocent OAS

July 13, 2009

Double standards seem to be the rule of the day in this cynical world of Venezuelan and Latin American politics. Today we suffered through two cases, one new, one old, where the double standards of the robolution and its new found friend the OAS and its Secretary General are simply too sickening to pass up and note:

i) Those “poor” Telesur reporters: And while we are being bombarded by repotrts of the mistreatment of the Telesur reporters in Honduras (who just happened to be driving cars that had been reported stolen), I learn of the fact that Chavez’ brother, the Governor of Barinas State Adan Chavez, had New York Times reporter Scott Dalton kicked out of the political event presided by him, because Dalton was “suspected” of being a CIA spy or something like that.

Meanwhile, the outcry over Honduras detaining and kicking out the Telesur reporters does not cease, but Chavez was shown to be behind the effort to violate Honduras laws and promote the referendum to hold a Constituent Assembly in Honduras.

The difference between the two? Telesur is the very overt TV station of the Chavez revolution and its role in transmitting what is happening in Honduras has been very political from day one. While the OAS and the Venezuelan Reporters Association condemn what happened in Honduras, no mention is being made of what the Presidents’  fascist brother ordered done last week. Where is Izarra when it does not affect his personal and/or political interests?

ii) The not so innocent OAS: And the cynical and not so innocent OAS Secretary General Insulza turns out to have played a much more controversial and relevant role on the Zelaya referendum. Not only did the Supreme Court of Honduras rule the referendum illegal, but it turns out that the Congress of Honduras asked the OAS to withdraw the observers from the illegal vote and the motion approved by that body  expressed its surprise that the OAS would take part in such an illegal act and explicitly ordered to “express its profound indignation on the participation of the OAS in this illegal event and ask for the withdrawal of the observation mission”.

So much for Insulza’s claim that it is difficult to “interfere” with the internal affairs of a member country. In fact, via Daniel, in this note from Chavez YVKE Mundial radio station, none other than the Director for Electoral events of the OAS, Raul Alconada, tells Telesur (who else?) that everything is ready for the illegal referendum under the hostile (to the Honduras independent powers) supervision of the OAS. And while Alconada talks about the “State”, he should have said the “President” because the State, as represented by its Congress, asked that the OAS withdraw it mission and the OAS had to know that the Honduran Supreme Court declared the act illegal.

Thus, Mr. Insulza not only had a double standard on the case, but consistently helped  Zalaya on his goal to change the Honduran Constitution, despite the repeated calls to the OAS to stay away and noting the illegal nature of the referendum proposed by Zelaya.

Thus, Mr. Insulza claims on the Ledezma case his inability to interfere with internal affairs of a country, but on the other hand participates actively and aggressively in Zelaya’s attempt to undermine the rule of law in his country. And once Zelaya is removed, Insulza moves swiftly and strongly to condemn Zelaya’s ouster in a manner that was not used in in similar cases in Bolivia and Ecuador, while ignoring Hugo Chavez’ abuses of political and human rights in Venezuela.

A true double standard in both cases, which shows the ability of Insulza and Chavez’ cronies to be cynical and totally biased under similar circumstances.

The Washington Post and Ledezma: Double Standards in Latin America

July 13, 2009

(Este post en español aquí)

Double Standards in latin America by Jackson Diehl

As the Obama administration and a host of Latin American governments campaigned to reverse the coup in Honduras, another democratically elected Latin leader embarked on a lonely effort to draw attention to the double standard that has lately governed violations of political and human rights in the region.

Venezuelan Antonio Ledezma is no gadfly or dissident; as the mayor of Caracas, he received almost as many votes in last November’s election (700,000) as Manuel Zelaya (915,000) did when he won the presidency of Honduras in 2005. Yet while the Organization of American States has been united in demanding Zelaya’s return to his post, and in suspending Honduras for violating the Inter-American Democratic Charter, it has studiously ignored the case of Ledezma — who, since his election, has been illegally driven from his office by a mob, stripped of most of his powers and budget, and subjected to criminal investigation by the regime of Hugo Chávez.

So on July 3, as OAS ministers were gathering in Washington to act on Honduras, Ledezma launched a hunger strike in the OAS offices in Caracas. His aims were pretty straightforward: to force Chávez to turn over funds needed to pay thousands of municipal employees and to compel OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to investigate Chávez’s massive violations of the democracy charter.

Insulza, a Chilean socialist who is counting on Chávez’s support to win a second term in office, embodies the double standard. He has been theatrical — and ineffectual — in his attempts to manage the Honduran crisis; a week ago he joined a foolish, Chávez-sponsored attempt to force Zelaya’s return to the country. Undertaken against the advice of every government in the Americas, save those allied with Chávez, the airborne caper produced violent clashes at the Tegucigalpa airport and led to the sidelining of Insulza’s diplomacy in favor of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias’s.

While championing Zelaya — whose attempt to illegally rewrite the constitution united Honduras’s Congress and Supreme Court against him — Insulza refused to interest himself in the case of Ledezma and other elected Venezuelan mayors and state governors who have been subjected to power-stripping and criminal prosecution by Chávez. The OAS “cannot be involved in issues of internal order of member states,” said a statement Insulza issued after a June meeting in Washington with Ledezma — a declaration he quickly contradicted once the pro-Chávez Zelaya was deposed.

Ledezma’s hunger strike eventually shamed Insulza into making a phone call in which he promised to meet with the Venezuelan mayors and governors in Washington, and to investigate their charges that Chávez had violated the democracy charter. But Insulza later repeated that “it is very difficult to determine how a country should organize itself internally.”

Such willful disregard of political repression was the prevailing policy among OAS members before the Honduran coup — including the Obama administration. Though Chávez launched his latest and most virulent campaign against elected opposition leaders and independent media shortly after Obama’s inauguration, the administration for months refused to publicly respond; instead, it agreed on a new exchange on ambassadors with Venezuela and repeatedly announced its hope to “work with” the caudillo.

Last week it finally began to look as though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the administration had changed their approach. Immediately after meeting with Zelaya, Clinton granted an interview to the Venezuelan television network Globovision, which Chávez has vowed to shut down because of its critical reporting. In it she reiterated the administration’s desire to “lower the temperature” with Chávez but spoke out against persecution of the media and “the arbitrary use and abuse of power that would lead to political prisoners being confined.” Globovision’s owner is one of the numerous opposition leaders now under criminal investigation.

In testimony to Congress the next day, the State Department’s incoming assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Arturo Valenzuela, said that following the Honduras crisis, “it should be clear that the collective response of the hemisphere in support of democracy should not be limited to taking action simply when elected leaders are removed from office by force.” Does that mean the United States now will also push Insulza and the OAS to judge what is happening in Venezuela — and in Nicaragua, Ecuador and other states where freedom of the press and free elections have been under sustained attack? The administration’s high-profile effort to defend a hostile Honduran president has provided an opportunity to take the offensive against the hemisphere’s most dangerous anti-democratic actors.