Thursday, July 14

Venezuela and Chavez--Government's Human Rights Record Poor

The following is from a Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor this past February 28, 2005. The White House, I'm sure, is keeping a close eye on the worstening situation in Venezuela.

The Government's human rights record remained poor; despite attempts at improvement in a few areas, its performance deteriorated in other areas, particularly regarding politicization of the judiciary and restrictions on electronic media, and serious problems remained. The police and military committed unlawful killings of criminal suspects. The police reportedly had links to vigilante groups that killed suspected criminals. Investigations into unlawful killings by the security forces of criminal suspects remained extremely slow.

Torture and abuse of detainees persisted, and the Government failed to punish police and security officers guilty of abuses. Prison conditions remained harsh; violence and severe overcrowding constituted inhuman and degrading treatment. Arbitrary arrests and detentions continued. Impunity was one of the country's most serious human rights problems. Crimes involving human rights abuses did not proceed to trial due to judicial and administrative delays.

Corruption, lengthy pretrial detention, and severe inefficiency in the judicial and law enforcement systems also were problems. A law enacted in May increased the number of Supreme Court judges and the power of the executive branch, the legislature, and the citizen power over the judiciary. Some judges were summarily dismissed or forced to retire. Prosecutors selectively investigated several opposition leaders and brought charges against some.

The Government conducted illegal wiretapping of private citizens and intimidated political opponents. President Chavez, officials in his administration, and members of his political party consistently attacked the independent media, the political opposition, labor unions, the courts, the Church, and human rights groups. Many government supporters interpreted these remarks as tacit approval of violence; they then threatened, intimidated, and physically harmed at least dozens of individuals opposed to Chavez during the year.

The International Association of Broadcasters complained that the Government abused its legal power to order that all television and radio stations air material of national interest by requiring the transmission of speeches by President Chavez and other government officials and of other political programming favorable to the Government.

A press law enacted in December places restrictions on broadcast content that threaten press freedom. Violence and discrimination against women, abuse of children, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and inadequate protection of the rights of indigenous people remained problems. Trafficking in persons was a problem. The Government's confrontation with the Venezuelan Workers Confederation (CTV) and fired petroleum sector employees continued, and child labor increased.
Ahhh...the wonderfull effects of socialism in full bloom. Sounds to me like another "paradise" in the making. Read the rest for yourself.