Wave Bye-Bye to Freedom and Human Rights in Venezuela
by Jim Kouri, CPP
On the heels of a report of human rights violations by the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez, a story that is getting minimal coverage in the elite media, Reporters Without Borders is criticizing Chavez for jailing a television news reporter who criticized him.
In a statement last week, the Paris-based journalism association said a Venezuelan judge ordered the detention of Gustavo Azocar Alcala for an indefinite period while he is investigated on six-year-old charges of fraud and embezzling public funds. But most believe he's being jailed for "insulting" Chavez.
Venezuela is a constitutional democracy with a population of approximately 25 million. In 2000 voters elected President Hugo Chavez of the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) in what people such as Jimmy Carter claim were generally free and fair elections.
The Chavez government quickly began the politicization of the judiciary, restrictions on the media, and harassment of the political opposition. The government used the justice system selectively against the political opposition and implementation of a 2004 media law threatened to limit press freedom. Chavez even instituted what are called "Insult Laws," to prevent criticism of his rule.
The following human rights problems were reported by the US Department of State:
*unlawful killings of criminal suspects jailed on trumped up charges
*torture and abuse of detainees
*harsh prison conditions including violence and severe overcrowding
*arbitrary arrests and detentions
*corrupt, inefficient, and highly politicized judicial system characterized by trial delays, impunity, and violations of due process
*dismissal or forced retirements of judges for political reasons
*unlawful taking of private property, including failure to make property restitution in such cases
*illegal wiretapping and searches of private homes and businesses
*official intimidation and attacks on the independent media, the political opposition, labor unions, courts, the Catholic Church, missionary groups, and human rights groups
*widespread corruption at all levels of government
*violence and discrimination against women, abuse of children, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and inadequate protection of the rights of indigenous people
*trafficking in persons
*restrictions on the right of association
The State Department report cited unlawful killings of criminal suspects, torture and abuse of detainees, as well as official intimidation of the media, political opposition and human rights groups.The report said other problems in Venezuela included illegal, politically motivated wiretapping and searches of private homes and businesses, and widespread corruption at all levels of government.
A major move by Chavez to clamp down on freedom was his packing their supreme court with 12 of his cronies. Venezuelan political analyst Aleksander Boyd believes Chavez's violations should also include his alliances with rogue states, dictators, narco-guerrillas, money launderers, terrorists, drug cartels and the introduction into the country's politics and society of Chavez's hallmark -- hatred.
Just last month, Chavez evicted US missionaries from Venezuela as well as a military attache to the US embassy. He claimed the attache was a spy working with Venezuela's military officers who oppose him.
Recently, he called on the impoverished masses to rise up and forcibly seize property and money from those better off. His slow purge of the middle class leaves professionals, business owners and shopkeepers facing the hostility of the poor whom the Marxist leader has encouraged in an effort to keep a majority of voters who are poor voting for him in future elections.
Caracas has always endured a crime problem, but during Chavez's reign of hatred, the city center has become seedier, with homeless people sleeping alongside piles of rotting rubbish by blackened walls. And crime is on the rise, with some accusing Chavez of encouraging more crime so he can initiate draconian policing measures. Chavez, a former Venezuelan army paratrooper and close friend and ally of Cuban dictator Fidel Castor, has repeatedly said he will bring about a 21st-century socialist revolution.
Delusions of grandeur in this volatile leader are creating concerns due to his one precious commodity -- oil. As with leftists in the US and Europe, Chavez often makes outlandish statements hoping something will gain traction. His almost constant verbal attacks on America are the recognized strategy of most repressive dictators -- to keep the focus off what they are doing such as packing the courts with his comrades.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.