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Venezuela's government cynically dismisses human rights problem

By Miguel Octavio

As a woman is killed in Machiques, near Maracaibo, and evidence of torture and repression continues to flourish in Venezuela, the Government continued to deny and ignore the outcry. From the Minister of Defense Gen. Garcia Carneiro, who accused vocal critic and reporter Marta Colomina of being a “terrorist” and called her a foreigner despite her Venezuelan nationality, to Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel, who denied the pictures below saying there is no torture in Venezuela, the charade and grotesque pantomime continues.

Rangel was quite his offensive self. After his former friend and co-founder of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party, Pompeyo Marquez, challenged him to speak against the repression, reminding him of their friend Alberto Lovera, killed by the military in the 60’s with a shot in the back, much like Jose Vilas was killed this week, he accused Marquez of switching sides. The charge actually was quite cynical, if anything it is the cynical Rangel who is now on the side of the repressive and criminal military that is currently in command in Venezuela.

But if Rangel was pitiful, MVR Deputy Tarek William Saab came very close to justifying the violations of human rights saying that nobody speaks about the nine National Guardsmen who are injured. Thus, in the mind of Saab, a one time human rights defender, nine injured guardsmen justify the deaths of the ten Venezuelans as well as the more than one thousand injured that a week of military repression has left in Venezuela. Quite grotesque for a politician who rose through his defense of human rights and actually has occupied the Chairmanship of the Human Rights Commission of the Venezuelan National Assembly!

Meanwhile, the resignation of the country’s Ambassador to the United Nations Milos Alacalay, created quiet am international stir. Alcalay resigned because he said he could no longer represent a country in which Human Rights were being violated. He said:”As representative in front of the United Nations, organization which exercises a primary responsibility in their promotion, protection and defense of human dignity, I can not be indifferent when in my own country human rights are not respected.” Adding “The international community has seen with amazement the incredible military repression joined by the repression of the political police”. The consequent loss of human life, injured, disappeared, and political prisoners without trial are taking place, while women and children are threatened by a brutal and unacceptable primitive reaction of the authorities or those that have given them instructions”.

The reaction by Chavez’ lackeys was immediate. Using the same “use and dispose” strategy that has been so common in the last five years, Alcalay was immediately branded a traitor, a pro-Carmona Ambassador who benefited from the IVth. Republic. According to Saab, Alcalay was still in his post out of Chavez’ respect for his service to his country and called him a hypocrite. Of course, no explanation was given for the fact that he still held one of the most important posts in the Foreign Service.

Alcalay’s courageous resignation has had a huge impact. He resigned from the United Nations, with widespread international coverage. He went on the offensive, holding interviews for CNN, which were broadcast with videos of the repression. Ironically, his resigantion had more of an impact internationally than the OAS saying the signatures to request Chavez recall were actually there.

Hopefully, Alcalay’s act will only be the first of many to come. As Janette says in one of the comments, Chavismo is not a monolithic force. There are some decent people there. Not Saab, not Rangel, not Garcia Carneiro. This is the first crack in the façade that may end up bringing the house of cards down. Let us hope the negotiations going on reach a decision that will lead to peace and elections Let us hope we can have peace and democracy back soon.

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