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Another good week for Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez

By Aleksander Boyd

London (19.11.03) – Few events that merit our attention have come to pass in the last week. Chronological order is not necessary the case in the following summary:

• The Spanish National Audience decided to transfer the case for crimes against humanity -presented before that Court against Hugo Chavez and 22 of his closest aides- to the International Criminal Court. The judge reviewing the case stated that it was not in their competence to prosecute an acting head of state, however he expressed that there were grounds for the lawsuit to proceed in the ICC.

• Members of the board of directors of the National Electoral Council sympathisers of President Hugo Chavez, namely Carrasquero, Rodriguez and Battaglini, decided to suspend the collection of signatures to request the recall referendum of Venezuelans residing abroad. It is worth noting that the resolution constitutes a clear violation to a number of articles of the Bolivarian Constitution (23, 51, 62, and 70).

• The Commission of International Jurists sent a letter to President Chavez stating “…we call upon your government so that it transmits to the competent authorities the necessity of restoring the judges of the First Administrative and Contentious Court, who were dismissed after a procedure that did not fulfil the requirements of the law. Also, in case of procedures of removal of judges are reinitiated, we urge you that these procedures adjust to international standards. Finally, we reiterate our preoccupation owing to the continuous attacks against the independence of the Judiciary on the part of Your Excellency and other civil employees of your government and ask for the cease of these attacks”.

• Additionally last Saturday we saw a great display of presidential verbal diarrhoea, when Hugo Chavez made remarks in regards to Bolivia’s right to access to the Pacific. The venue and occasion could not have been better suited for Chavez’ incontinence i.e. the Latin - American Summit in Bolivia. For that reason the Chilean government called its Ambassador in Caracas for “consultation”. In so doing, the Chilean administration resolved to send a message of rejection to the “…already internationally discredited Venezuelan president…”

On another note, I saw yesterday an interview with respect to the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. An Amnesty International representative was arguing the case for the 9 or so British detainees in the Cuban base. The visit of George Bush to the UK has stirred up sentiments around here. In spite of the amount of information that Amnesty has received lately about gross human rights violations in Venezuela, they have not pronounced a single word about it. Such stance makes me question the values of AI. Irene Khan –AI’s secretary general- declared not long ago that the world was not a safer place after George Bush decided to launch his international campaign against terrorism, to which I absolutely agree. One must also coincide with AI position regarding the rights of the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, but how about the rights of the men, women and children who have suffered the abuses of Hugo Chavez only because of a political stance? Who defends Mohammad Merhi –whose son was shot in the head when peacefully demonstrating- and the rest of the surviving victims of last April’s massacre against the accusation that Hugo Chavez presented in Venezuelan courts for treason?

It seems to me that Amnesty is just another bureaucratic organization at the service of the left for they are quite vocal in opposing George Bush and his policies. AI is incredible quick to react when the cause pleases its directors. The world would certainly be a much safer place had Hugo Chavez never been released from prison.

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