Archive for March 8th, 2014

The Ignorance Of Venezuela’s People’s “Defender”

March 8, 2014

People’s “defender” today

The Chavista Constitution of 2000, created the position of the People’s Defender, better translated as the People’s Ombudsman. This was a great idea of the 2000 Constitution, which, as so many things with Chavismo, it has received really bad implementation.

Like really bad…

Because those holding the position in the end have only sucked up to Chávez then, or Maduro now, defending the Government and seldom doing what Art. 280 of the 2000 Constitution mandated them to do:

Artículo 280. La Defensoría del Pueblo tiene a su cargo la promoción, defensa y vigilancia de los derechos y garantías establecidos en esta Constitución y los tratados internacionales sobre derechos humanos, además de los intereses legítimos, colectivos y difusos, de los ciudadanos.

(Article 280. The People’s Defender is in charge of promoting, defending and watching over the rights and gurantees in the Constitution and the international treaties about human rights, besides the legitimate, collective and diffuse interests of the citizens. )

And so far, the only person to occupy the position and do her jov was the first one, Dilia Parra, who was the only one qualified and truly independent to hold the position. The other two, German Mundarian and the current one, Gabriela Ramirez, have been know as the “Defensores del Puesto” (“Defenders of the position”) spending their time more defending the untenable positions of the Government, than those of the people.

Over the last few week, little has been heard from Ramirez, while repression blossomed in Venezuela. Ramirez, who reached her position with little human rights back1groung, reached her position after failing to win the race for Mayor of Baruta, three years ago and her buddy Diosdado brokered the position for her in a deal with Chávez.

But she is clearly not qualified. She has no interests in human rights and protecting the people.  At least in three years as the People’s Defender, she has shown no inclination for this. She is also a terrible (abominable?) speaker and knows very little about her job.

A typical Chavista Government official…Not qualified, not competent and fairly ignorant.

Today, there was a controversy over Ramirez, based on the video above. Despite three weeks of protests, Ramirez has been fairly invisible. In fact, only four days ago, she made these absurd statements, in which she claimed not to have any accusations of torture, despite individuals making them, as well as those of Foro Penal Venezolano, which have been very clear and extremely specific and quantitative (Alfredo Romero tweets updates regularly under @alfredoromero). In fact,Ramirez claims that “bullets” have come from “somewhere else” while there are numerous videos which show cops, police and National Guard shooting real bullets at people, exactly what Ramirez says is prohibited.

But today Ramirez in one single sentence showed not only that she is not qualified for her position, but that she has not even bothered to learn the basic tenets of what human rights are.

The controversy arose because people took her statement “la tortura tiene un sentido, por eso nosotros tenemos que ser muy rigurososos con el uso de los términos. La tortura se emplea para obtener…” (Torture has a sense, that is why we have to be rigorous in the use of terms. Torture is used to obtain information…) to mean that she thinks torture is justified.

While this may be what is understood or derived from her statement, I think it is just a consequence of how badly prepared she is to speak in public. But if her words were wrong, her true intent was just as bad, because while I don’t think she was trying to justify torture, she was trying to walk a very fine line and differentiate between torture and cruel or degrading punishment. Suggesting the “Torture” Committe only had to deal with those cases where people were obtained to obtain information.

But it just so happens, that Ramirez is stupidly and ignorantly wrong, because the United Nations, the OAS and even the Venezuelan Government have tried precisely to differentiate that very fine line. And Venezuelan law even includes “intimidation” as part of torture to make Ramirez look even worse and even more ignorant.

Thus, in her attempt to defend the Government, instead of doing her Constitutional job, Ramirez showed her ignorance of international law and the fact that she is not complying with what the Venezuelan Constitution says or what international says are the rights of  the people. As such, she could be one day charged for not preventing “torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” an as stated very clearly in the convention, people like Ramirez will not be able to argue that they followed superior orders as “they will be held accountable individually”

In fact, Ramirez’s statement justify her immediate dismissal from her position, something we know will never happen. Which simply proves the point that Venezuela is a Dictatorship, where human rights are not only nor respected, but those in charge of defending them are incompetent, ignorant politicians who only want to suck up to the highest levels of Government to scale positions in the future.

A profoundly sad and disturbing episode, which simply surprises nobody. Scruples is not a word Chavistas have in their vocabulary, nor is it a concept they can understand or comprehend.

But Humann Rights violations never expire…


Who Is In Control In Venezuela? By Paul Esqueda

March 8, 2014

My good friend Paul Esqueda, a very distinguished Venezuelan, with a career in science and science and education management, asked me if I could publish here his article expressing his concerns about where Venezuela is headed. I do so with great pleasure.

Who is in control in Venezuela?

Paul Esqueda

The recent events in Venezuela suggest a very concerning trend. The Government seems to control the centers of power (the Military, Congress, the Supreme Court, the National Elections Board and most of the governors and city mayors). However, a critical piece such as the economy is completely out of control. Inflation is at an all times high (55%), the parallel market rate of exchange of the national currency is ten times that of the official rate fueled by an obvious shortage of US dollars, and the supply chain of consumer goods is completely disrupted with the consequent shortages of vital consumer goods in the supermarket shelves. There seems to be a mix of improvisation and ignorance with the end result of very poor management of the economy. In addition, oil production seems to be declining, which is the most important source of revenue of foreign currency. Furthermore, the Government has not be able to honor the debts to most suppliers from neighboring countries and the international airlines. These are just some of the serious imbalances of the economy that may lead Venezuela to be a failed state.

Since Chavez came to power he began the creation of a “militia force” to defend the revolution. At the time, most public figures warned that this type of paramilitary forces presented a huge potential danger for our society. They have no clear chain of command, they are not trained to apply the rule of law, and most important they could get out of control at any time with their fire power. This is actually happening as I write these lines.

The Movement of Democratic Unity (Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, MUD) gathers most of the opposition groups. They have made every effort to turn things around by pointing out the economic imbalances with very little success. As a very democratic movement, the MUD is a heterogeneous group with many critical thinkers and very strong intellectual power. The MUD has promoted peaceful protests with rallies that have had massive attendance. However, things are getting out of control because the protests have taken root in many neighborhoods in Caracas and in most large cities in Venezuela setting up barricades (guarimbas) and progressively paralyzing the economy. The student movement, mostly from higher education institutions, are leading the guraimbas together with the local residents in each neighborhood. By the way, the MUD has very little control over the student movement. The MUD has constantly called for peaceful protests and have condemned the guarimbas as a violent and improper approach. The Indeed, one of Venezuela’s most important political analysts and economist, Luis Vicente Leon, referred to the guarimbas as a “path to a cliff.” Most importantly he claims that there is a “lack of leadership” and no clear way to funnel the powerful street protests.

The Government has opted to exercise all its power to crush the guarimbas by massive repression and shear use of military and paramilitary power. The consequences are evident, blatant violation of human right and a fake approach to power. Nicolas Maduro would call for a peace conference and dialogue only to turn around a few minutes later and order his militias to “wipe out” all protesters. Words definitely do not follow action, a clear lack of integrity that does not contribute to generating trust.

The Organization of American States (OAS) has been called to intervene by invoking the “Democratic Letter.” This is an agreement signed by all OAS members with a commitment to enforce democratic principles such as respect for the diversity of ideas and freedom of speech as we understand it today. OAS is moving at a snail pace arguing that Nicolas Maduro was democratically elected and that Venezuelans should resolve their issues among themselves. On the other hand, Nicolas Maduro argues that the protesters are a minority that only represent the upper class in Venezuela. Nothing further from the truth, the protest and barricades have taken root in all neighborhoods. Those low income neighborhood that stay quiet are under the rule of the militia thugs that violently repress any sign of dissent. Two important conclusions: the guarimbas need leadership badly since they are out of control and democracy is extremely lacking in Venezuela.

The whole argument of this article is that the Government is not in control of the economy (the main source of the problem as admitted by Chavista Governor of Tachira State, Jose Vielma Mora) , the militias are out of control, and the guarimbas are out of control. So who is in control in Venezuela? Is Venezuela at the verge of becoming a failed state? Is chaos going to reign in Venezuela? That is why the help of OAS is badly need in Venezuela. The human rights and freedom of speech pieces are pale next to the real challenges that Venezuela faces.