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Venezuela: The Expulsion of Human Rights Watch

Armed military soldiers searched for José Miguel Vivancos, spokesperson for the international NGO Human Rights Watch, and expelled him from Venezuela hours after releasing the report at a press conference, “A Decade Under Chávez: Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela,” which included critical commentary about the administration of Hugo Chávez.

The Venezuelan government's response to what it called, “another foreign aggression by U.S. Imperialism” was quick, convincing, and maybe even provided evidence of the political intolerance cited in the report, which is one of the fundamental features of contemporary Venezuela.

The report does not say anything that the Venezuela opposition has not already said, and in reality, Vivancos’ statements were nothing new.

However, for being an foreigner and the international legitimacy of the NGO caused for his immediate exit. In addition, recently the Venezuelan government expelled the U.S. ambassador in solidarity with the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador in Bolivia.

Iria Puyosa in her blog Resteados [es], she publishes some portions of the HRW report in a post called “Please, Don't Watch or Fuck You,

Venezuela no logrará obtener un progreso real y sostenido hacia el fortalecimiento de su democracia; ni tampoco ser un modelo útil para otros países de la región; mientras su gobierno continúe despreciando los principios de derechos humanos establecidos en su propia Constitución.

[...]

El capítulo 2 documenta de qué forma el gobierno ha:
- Despedido a opositores políticos de algunas instituciones estatales y de la compañía petrolera estatal y puesto sus nombres en listas negras;
– Ha negado a algunos ciudadanos el acceso a programas sociales como consecuencia de sus opiniones políticas; y
– Discriminado contra los medios de comunicación, los sindicatos y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil en respuesta a sus críticas o a su actividad política.

Venezuela will not achieve real and sustainable progress towards the strengthening of its democracy; it will also not be a useful models for other countries of the region; while its government continues to look down upon the principals of human rights established by its own Constitution.

[...]

Chapter 2 documents the way that the government has:
- Fired political opponents in some of the state institutions and of the state petroleum company and blacklisted them;
- Denied some citizens access to social programs due to their political opinions; and
-Discriminated against the media, unions, and civil society organizations in response to their criticism o their political activity.

Even though the blogs that support the government have decreased in activity over the past months, there are other spaces that these opinions are expressed. On the site Aporrea [es] there have been articles directly attacking Vivancos and the role of HRW (calling them employees of the CIA and destablizers), responding to the report as if it was a document from the United States, and even some authors such as Francisco Sierra Corrales proposes the need to redefine “Human Rights”

Podemos decir que no sólo los estados o gobiernos son los únicos sujetos activos o los únicos susceptibles de violar los derechos humanos o garantías sociales sino que lo puede hacer el Imperialismo Yanqui, como primer factor de poder mundial. Por ejemplo, el terrorismo mediático y las desestabilizaciones políticas son impulsadas y monitoreadas por Washington, en contra de nuestros pueblos, en especial en contra de los gobiernos de centro-izquierda y centro-derecha que han empezado a surgir en nuestro continente en lo que va de siglo.

We can say that the state or governments are not the only active subjects or the only suspects in violating human rights or social guarantees, but something that the Yankee Imperialism can do, as well. For example, media terrorism and the political destabilization is impulsed and monitored from Washington, against our people and especially against center-left and center-right governments, which have been taking power on our continent since the beginning of the century.

In other political forums, a revolutionary forumist called Achue2 comments:

Con una diplomacia subliminal nos quieren convencer que se cometió un abuso contra este “martir” de los Derechos Humanos. Acá se le dio cuerda [oportunidad] suficiente a este señor. Tiene 10 años viniendo en tiempos electorales a subvertir el orden interno con calumnias y falacias apoyando a una tolda politica… perdió el equilibrio y la veracidad.

With a subliminal diplomacy, they want to convince us that an abuse was committed against this Human Rights “martyr.” Here they gave this man enough of an opportunitiy. He has been coming here for the past 10 years during election season trying to subvert the internal order with slander and fallacies supporting a political structure …he lost balance and truthfulness.

For those blogs, historically identified as opposition to Chávez, this impasse is only one more step towards intolerance by the military government in Venezuela. In other opinions, not so black and white, Rómulo Rodríguez comments on his blog Romrod [es] that he does not agreement with the way that someone making criticism was taken out of the country:

No me importa realmente quien es este señor Vivancos, no lo conozco ni me interesa. Pero lo que si me importa es que el gobierno venga y nos diga como y por que lo que se dice en el reporte es falso. Punto por punto si es posible. Responder con la expulsión de estos señores lo que me hace pensar es que como que tienen la razón y por esto es que los botan. Una torpe bravuconada. [...]

¿No hay discriminación política? ¿No hay intolerancia? ¿Hay un completo respeto a las minorías?”

I don't care who this Mr. Vivancos is, I don't know him and I don't care. What is important to me is that the government comes and says what in the report is false. Point by point if possible. Responding with the expulsion of these men makes mr wonder whether they were right and that is why they are thrown out. A clumsy and brazen move. [...]

Isn't there political discrimination? Isn't there intolerance? Is there a complete respect for minorities?

Petrusco participates in the comments section and enters into the discussion at the blog Periodismo de Paz [es] regarding the legitimacy of HRW and its political interests by coming to the country and to present its findings:

El día que la HRW demuestre su imparcialidad y eficiencia lanzando informes duros y contundentes en contra de gobiernos como el de Estados Unidos o Israel y realizando acciones serias y eficientes en función de esos informes entonces si valdrá la pena creerles lo que se vengan a leer aquí o en donde sea.

The day that HRW demonstrates its impartiality and efficiency by releasing tough and thorough reports against government like the United States or Israel and takes serious and efficient actions in regards to those reports, then will it be worth it to believe what they came to report here or anywhere else.

Are they attacking the message or the messenger? Read the report here and make your own conclusions.

Thumbnail photo by «•*٠ кιτ-кaτн .٠*•»

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