Archive for October 11th, 2010

Autocrats of the World Unite: Chavez defends Xiaobo’s jailing by Chinese Government

October 11, 2010

I usually try to limit my posts to Venezuelan affairs. Sometimes I break the rule if there is a connection to Venezuela or there is a non-political angle like Vargas Llosa’s Nobel Prize, a joy to anyone who has ever read his work and a tribute to Spanish Literature. My reasoning behind this is simple: I don’t want the affairs of other nations to take over the discussions here, there are blogs about those foreign affairs all over and should be the place to discuss such topics.

Thus, although I was extremely happy to hear about the Nobel peace Prize for Chinese dissident Liu Xiobo, I had no plans to talk about it…

Until Hugo Chavez sharply criticized the opposition’s communique asking the Chinese Government to release the Nobel Prize winner. Chavez’ attacks are gratuitous, the MUD simply asks that someone be freed, much like others in the world asked that Mandela be freed at one time, because Chavez reveals his own autocratic spirit when he says that Liu Xiobo is a “dissident counterrevolutionary…who probably violated Chinese laws”.

Except in a democracy, being a dissident or a counterrevolutionary should be perfectly legal and under international law, there should not be laws that penalize it. And the Chinese attempt to make the matter a Government to Government conflict, when they know that the Nobel Committee is independent of the Norwegian Government. Moreover, the Chinese Government attempted to interfere with the Committee by threatening them even before the award had been announced when Liu Xiobo was known to be a front runner.

But autocrats will be always autocrats and no sooner had Chavez spoken when the Chinese Government announced the house arrest of Liu Xiobo’s wife Liu Xia. The same day, bloggers, academics and lawyers had also been arrested even if some were released afterwards.

Of course, Liu Xia’s only crime is to be married to Liu Xiaobo, thus for Chavez, who loves to bunch and lump people in groups, it must be ok to have a law that says you should not be married to a jailed dissident. Because Liu Xia’s only crime is to express her husband’s thoughts and to be loyal to him.

Liu Xiaobo’s only crime was to be part of the Chapter 8 movement which  demanded political reforms on the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The cynical attitude of the Chinese Government was revealed when Xiabo was harassed up to the Olympic Games but jailed only afterwards. Of course, Liu Xiaobo’s fight for human rights began decades earlier, always in defense of human rights, even before Tiananmen Square in 1989.

As for China being an ally of Venezuela, such an alliance only exists in Chavez’ mind, because he gets financing from the Chinese at the expense of Venezuela’s future. One day, Chavez may have to face trial for this and the Chinese may find that Venezuela’s priorities become the future of all Venezuelans and not of a particular political leader or movement.

As my colleague Gioconda San Blas said so eloquently today in Tal Cual, Liu Xiaobo is an example and “These universal figures serve us as guiding lights to value the dimension of the sacrifice that in our country is made with supreme dignity by those who are committed from jails to a similar defense of human rights”

The autocrats of the world may unite in their own defense, but much like in the Mandela case, the people one day will rebel and the ugly truth will be revealed about their abuses and violations of human rights by the autocrats.

And the freedom of our guiding lights will also be our own…

Added: Just to prove our point, another autocrat joins the fray: Evo Morales says that because he is an anti-imperialist he will never get the Peace Prize (Why should he? He is no pacifist or democrat). He also questions the prizes to Liu Xiaobo and to Mario Vargas Llosa. He will never get the Literature Prize either, that’s for sure.

When street crime and violence stares you in the face in Venezuela

October 11, 2010

Crime statistics are mostly treated like that: just numbers. Only today the Head of the new National Police began using Twitter to argue whether crime had gone down by one number or another. What we do know is that in the eleven years of Chavez’ Presidency, homicides have triples, give or take 10%. Crime and murder have simply gotten out of hand for the Government and arguing about ten percent more or less is not only frivolous, but simply offensive.

As crime has increased, not only does it get closer to you, but your self-imposed curfew grows and gets earlier. Your paranoia increases.

In the last four weeks, two people in my office have had attempts to kidnap them. The first one a month ago, four armed gunmen blocked his path forced them off the road and tried to take them away. Somehow, he managed to get the car out and escape in it.

This weekend it happened again, except that before the whole thing was over, one of my dearest people had been shot a few times, whether it was three bullets or five, it is unclear and it is simply another irrelevant statistic. What is relevant is that it is getting closer, it had to happen, it is not only the increased crime but it’s the profile, as I showed on August 29th. , it is either the poor or the the well to do that have the highest probability of being victims.

Somehow, three or five bullets missed critical areas, there was loss of blood, fingers were shattered, but everything else is fine. He came that close.

So did we. We came that close to the unimaginable. To the unexplainable. To the unthinkable.  To that which hits our basic humanity and makes you feel like wrapping yourself in a cocoon and not come out for days.

But instead you celebrate, you celebrate life, you celebrate survival. You celebrate that we all, somehow, beat the odds once again.

But those responsible for it are still in charge, untouched  and careless about the true human tragedy that touches thousands of Venezuelans every week.