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Human Rights defenders under attack in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

06.04.05 | I have been absent these past few days: travel and family obligations. But of course the news never stop and there are a few items that need to be caught up with, from the passing of a great leader of peace and its realtion with Venezuela, to the ignominious appeal to hatred and war of a minor crapule within chavismo. But then chavismo has never been known for its tact and sense of timing except when it needs to screw someone.

So tonight I will start the catching up process with the most recent development: the citation for indictment of Carlos Ayala Corao, now "postponed". Some background first. Mr. Ayala is a foremost Human Rights lawyer in Venezuela, with even an international career at his relatively young age. For some reason he has been cited for investigation and possible indictment. AMAZINGLY, tonight, a few minutes ago, I heard him say on the very serious "30 minutos" of Cesar Miguel Rondon that he did not know why he was being cited. Yes, the guy knows that they want to indict him, probably ban him from leaving the country during the "judicial process" and he has no idea why they are after him, what they want to charge him with. He even went as far as to say that perhaps it was not ordered from above and that it was maybe some underling initiative to score brownie points with the powers that be. Really...

But other people seem to know quite well what is behind the whole maneuver.

Teodoro Petkoff at Tal Cual quickly penned a strong editorial (kindly translated by Miguel). Apparently Petkoff offers himself as a witness of the efforts of chavismo to have Ayala Corao preside the "truth committee" for April 11 2002, a committee that eventually never was formed, leaving all the crimes of that day unpunished and open to all sorts of wild interpretations, and injustices, according to the political necessities du jour. So, why today's near arrest warrant?

Human Rights groups are quite vocal in their outrage, from the distinguished COFAVIC and Liliana Ortega, to Pedro Nikken of the CIDH and the speedy Human Rights Watch communique which states:

"This is a clear-cut case of political persecution, targeting someone who has been an effective critic of the Chávez government's human rights record," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "This outrageous accusation would be rejected out of hand in any independent court of law," he added.

So, what is really going on? Apparently the Human Rights Organizations in Venezuela, or those interested in Venezuela, are finally reaching the stage where they have gathered enough evidence to start pressing charges in international courts on violations in Venezuela, be it the chavista ones (the infamous Tascon list, the April 11-13 deaths, illegal firings, burnt soldiers, etc, etc...) to the security corps who, benefiting of the general lawlessness and inpunity, commit all sorts of abuses such as the ones reported recently in Guarico state where the police corps looks more like a Mafia gang than an orderly police department (without forgetting the Aragua and Portuguesa notorious cases).

Well, of course, chavismo does not want to air its dirty laundry outside, so the next best thing is to shoot the messenger, or at last scare it in the hope that it will run and hide. From what I saw tonight Ayala Corao (and Liliana Ortega and others from other observations) are anywhere closer from dropping their extraordinary work to try to bring decency in Venezuela. They know that they are a hurdle in the script of how fascism is installed and they know that they have to be eliminated. My hat goes to these brave souls.

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