Thursday, 22 October 2009

This is about terrorism and corruption – it is not persecution

[Claims that Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez is carrying out a witch-hunt are unfounded.]

This is about terrorism and corruption – it is not persecution

Thursday 22nd October 2009, by Samuel Moncada - The Guardian 

Your article presents a disturbing picture of political freedoms under attack in Venezuela (Chávez accused of turning tyrant as even former allies languish in jail, 13  October). Allegations of a politically driven judicial system are backed up with a quote claiming: "There are 38 people in jail for political reasons disguised as corruption or public disorder offences."

If true, Venezuela would have political prisoners and such a substantial article into its democratic health would be warranted. But it is not. Among these 38 cited cases are people convicted of the murder of a public prosecutor investigating the 2002 coup; military personnel convicted for placing bombs in the Colombian and Spanish embassies; and police chiefs convicted for ordering gunfire against civilians on peaceful demonstrations with the aim of justifying a military uprising.

(click here to view entire article)

Video: The Indigenous University of Venezuela Struggles for Recognition

22nd October 2009, by Michael Fox, Silvia Leindecker, and Carlos Martinez

Michael Fox and Carlos Martinez are co-authors of the upcoming book,"Venezuela Speaks! Voices from the Grassroots" to be released in December by PM Press.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Venezuela is No Tyranny

[Dictatorship has returned to Latin America in Honduras, not in the genuine, if imperfect, democracy of Venezuela.]

Wednesday 14th October, by Francisco Dominguez - Comment is Free (The Guardian)

As Latin Americans witness the return of dictatorship – with Honduras suffering political executions, widespread repression and condemnation from human rights organisations about curtailing of press freedoms – it seems a strange time for the media to repeat opposition allegations that Venezuela is becoming a tyranny.

Venezuela is far from the "dictatorship which has a facade of democracy" described by General Raúl Baduel, who has been accused of corruption. What kind of tyranny oversees a 70% increase of participation in presidential elections, as Chávez has, or the government holding 13 free and fair elections in 10 years?

Of course, Venezuelan society and democracy is imperfect. One example is that corruption remains a very real problem. Opponents have tried to use this issue to disparage the government, though it pre-dates the Chávez era. It is therefore ironic that when measures are taken to tackle it, as is the case in legal prosecutions, these are cited as examples of a clampdown on political freedoms. Many Chávez-supporting politicians are under investigation and it paints a distorted picture to focus only on prosecutions against those opposed to Chávez

(click here to view entire article)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A Slow Coup in Venezuela

Sunday 11th October, by W. T. Whitney Jr - People's Weekly World

U.S. measures for resisting progressive changes in Latin America have included funding of rightwing opposition groups, military deployment throughout the region, and the Fourth Fleet for monitoring a continent. This year seven new bases have been announced for Colombia, one in Peru and two in Panama.

Efforts to destabilize Venezuela's socialist government have been part of the mix. Assets include despondent, formerly entitled Venezuelans and Colombian military force. The failed coup to remove President Hugo Chavez and attempted shutdown of the state oil company were early signs seven years ago. Since then Colombian paramilitary formations, in league with the U.S. puppet government there and rightwing elements in Venezuela, have embarked upon mayhem. 

First hand testimony suggests paramilitaries plotted to assassinate President Hugo Chavez.

El Nuevo Herald of Miami recently published a prison interview with Geovanny Velásquez Zambrano. The ex-paramilitary said he attended two meetings almost 10 years ago at which Manuel Rosales, then mayor of Maracaibo, offered $25 million for killing Chavez. He hinted at U.S. sources. Velásquez reported that paramilitary chieftain Jorge Iván Laverde - known as "el Iguano" - accepted the offer: "I have the guys to kill this gentleman."

The plotters established a training camp in Catatumbo to prepare for forays into Venezuela. Velásquez' own group entered Venezuela in 2000. According to the Nuevo Herald, Laverde, also a prisoner, accused high Colombian Army officers of orchestrating paramilitary ventures.

From 2000 to 2008, Rosales governed border state Zulia. In 2006 he was the rightist candidate in a losing bid for the presidency and that year allegedly met again with Colombian paramilitaries in a border town. He escaped to Peru in April.

In late September, a video rendition of Velasquez' testimony before Colombian prosecutors appeared on the Al Jazeera web site, along with lawyer Eva Golinger's commentary. Interviewed by TeleSur, she characterized paramilitary intrusion into Venezuela as "part of what the United States classifies as irregular war [using] military groups to promote violent actions." She saw the 2004 assassination of Venezuelan chief prosecutor Danilo Anderson as one example. Citing a U.S. Southern Command document dated April 13, 2003, Golinger accused Washington of creating a new "United Self Defense Forces of Venezuela" organized by paramilitaries of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia.

(click here to view entire article)