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Venezuela: Pedreañez, Bustamante, Zambrano, Biella, Carrizo, Vilas…

By Aleksander Boyd

London 16 May 2004 – Why is it that the media has the same focal concentration capacity of a two year old when a story has no 'political' appeal? Why do we have to keep up with the constant attacks to the usual suspects? Why no respected journalist takes upon himself the task of coming up with a new or expanded list of universal blame-for-everything names? For I am absolutely fed up with the same prostituted lines. Bustamante was burnt alive; Pedreañez was the first Venezuelan victim of Euthanasia; Zambrano was forced to eat his crap and beaten to death whilst observing national guardsmen gang-raping his fiancée; Biella was assassinated because he wanted to go home; profiting from the confusion official militias executed Carrizo and Vilas… How can these atrocious events be relegated to second role? How can a bunch of unarmed Colombian peasants guised in Venezuelan military fatigues steal the show? How can anyone even consider worthwhile pay any attention to Hugo Chavez’ verbal diarrhoea? How about promoting Chavez, Castro and Mugabe to the list?

The UN’s web site containing the Universal Declaration of human rights has got the following motto at the top “all human rights for all.” I have this page bookmarked for I believe in this era, when religion seems to be loosing terrain, the principles contained therein can hardly be not agreed upon by all human beings. Article 1 sets forth an extraordinary concept that, properly understood and employed, could spare the world of unnecessary suffering. It states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

In Venezuela there’s no such thing as equal dignity and rights amongst citizens, much less a spirit of brotherhood. We see day after day how the President and top officials disregard people’s rights and dignity owing to diverging political stances. While all the talk and media hoo-ha continues centred on the implausible story of the unarmed Colombian paramilitaries who were meant to assassinate the president of a country, who in turn is protected by the Cuban G2, the families of privates Pedreañez and Bustamante continue mourning their sons with the aggravating factor of knowing that nobody will ever be convicted for such an atrocious action.

How can that be? How can the chief of the armed forces, i.e. Hugo Chavez, expect any respect from the army when he does not safeguard their integrity and wellbeing? How can Venezuelans interpret the ‘spirit of brotherhood’ of Hugo Chavez? Article 2 speaks about everyone being entitled to all the rights and freedoms established by the declaration regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Article 3 establishes that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. However when people in Venezuela take to the street to protests the unconstitutional and illegal behaviour of the president they are met by the Praetorian Guard, read Venezuelan army. Exemplary case of Hugo Chavez’ interpretation of “right to life, liberty and security of person” was the killing of 30 people during February’s and March wave of repression. Among the assassinated there were political activists (Evangelina Carrizo) as well as bystanders that had nothing to do with the upheaval such as Mr Bruno Biella.

Article 5 cites that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Can a disciplinary measure, such as putting 8 Venezuelan soldiers under arrest to be subsequently set on fire alive, be considered inhuman, degrading or cruel punishment? Or should we consider it as plain torture? The autopsy of Juan Carlos Zambrano revealed that he had human excrements and hair in his stomach which added to the multiple wounds caused by the torture that the National Guard inflicted on him mounts without a doubt to criminal behaviour. Only few days had passed after these events when Hugo Chavez congratulated in a national TV and radio address the members of the army that ‘courageously fought against the oligarchy…’ Some soldiers even received medals of honour due to their actions. Article 7 says that we are all equal before the law. Well that is not the case in Venezuela where the president keeps inciting hatred among the population and making calls to his supporters to take ‘social justice in their hands.’ I will not even mention article 8 about the right to an effective remedy when fundamental and constitutional principles have been violated. To which chavista institution shall Venezuelans recourse in dire moments, to the Supreme Court or perhaps to the Attorney’s office? CNE anyone?

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile (Art. 9) In this instance one must ask to the 9 citizens arrested in Tachira state since June 2.002 (who still remain captive), or to the 1.500 illegally detained people nationwide in late February and early March or perhaps to the 500.000 individuals that have abandoned the country since Chavez took power.

I can continue citing abuses and violations to the 30 article chart committed by Hugo Chavez and his cronies. Furthermore I could spice it up with violations to our progressive 350 article constitution. The interesting aspect is that the media continues echoing the official non sense, they repeat time and again all the statements produced by the chavista inanity propagating machine. Five or ten years from now we will meet the advocates of this regime (those lucky enough to escape the witch hunt that will surely follow) and then those of us who have a good memory will be able to confront them with questions such as “why did you support in 2.003 a convicted criminal?”

What has become crystal clear for many is that Chavez has shown a chronic and absolute disregard for international human rights precepts; moreover the constitution that he so feverishly promotes is –for him- a fable, an alternative source of toilet paper, a fairy tale, a compendium of nice thoughts to read at night but never something to bind one’s actions. Undoubtedly he has made his mark in our history book for all the wrong reasons nonetheless his chapter is rather thin.

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