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Venezuela: Not a pretty picture

By Miguel Octavio

After taking it easy yesterday and relaxing for the first time in quite a while, reading today’s newspapers brought me back to the reality of what is going on in Venezuela. Not a pretty picture. In the order I read it, here are some highlights of what I read about today that bothered me:

-Venezuelan representatives made a presentation at the Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa(SIP) showing a video of Feb. 27th. The honorary President of SIP said: “It is eloquent what is happening in Venezuela. Chavez is our own Idi Amin, half clown and dangerously cruel. ..It is a farce to say that what we just saw is a country which is part of the OAS Democratic charter”. Meanwhile, Miguel Henrique Otero said that Chavez had claimed that National guardsmen were injured but the Government has not been able to give one name of a guard that suffered injuries. (El Nacional page A-2 and also in El Universal)

-Luis Garcia Mora in el Nacional: “This is a rip off that the OAS and the Carter Center are backing somehow. A fraud. What did they come for? Don’t they know what is going on within the honorable and transparent Consejo Nacional electoral (CNE)? What are they negotiating? How do you maintain this CNE for the regional and local elections?

-Carlos Melo in an interview in el Nacional (A-4): What morals can the Minister of Information Jesse Chacon speak with? Who have I killed? Nobody. He knows it well. The same way that everyone knows he is a notorious criminal who during the 1992 coup assassinated workers of the Government’s TV channel VTV…The problem is not whether the El rodeo jail is good or bad or is adequate or not for a political prisoner. All Venezuelan jails are hell.

-Jose Manuel Vivancos of Human Rights watch, organization which I was highly critical of in 2002 for its defense of Hugo Chavez (El Nacional A-15): ‘there is unquestionable evidence of human rights violations...there are acts of vandalism by the opposition like the destruction of public property to build barricades. ..There are testimonies and unquestionable evidence of tortures, bad treatment, abuses, hitting people. There are 9 deaths that can be attributed directly to agents of the government, there have been tortures with electricity, burning people, cruel and inhuman treatment of those detained….the problem is the Attorney General’s office opens investigations and never reaches a conclusion, with this you crown impunity…Venezuela’s attempt to recuse the Secretary general of the Human rights Commission of the OAS, has no legal bases and reflects a profound ignorance…with it the Venezuelan Government loses and isolates itself as a pariah.

-PDVSA has problems closing its books for 2003 (El Nacional A-20). The company will not be able to file on time and its executives may have lid in last year’s financials, they could be subject to prosecution under the Oxley Act.

-Former Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN Milos Alcalay: “the Government is each day more authoritarian…If the Government had recognized the excesses made and explained why the pro-Government demonstrators had the support of the National Guard to demonstrate in front of the Hotel, then this would have not transcended. The Secretary of state without reading my file said they would open an administrative process against me, similarly he said they would deny me my pension, my only recourse is the law, but given the institutional crisis …there are serious concerns over the future of justice in Venezuela…

-Offensive against the OAS: Minister of Infrastructure Diosdado Cabello:” It would appear as is if the only objective of the international observers is the recall referendum”. Hector Navarro, Minister of Higher Education: “The OAS is one more Ministry of the US.”

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