Chavez’s government has been demonized by the US since he came to power and has been elected democratically numerous times by numbers that would be considered landslides in the USA. He is a controversial leader with his in-your-face way of dealing with foreign powers, namely the USA, but is unarguably the popularly elected leader of his country, usually by over 60% of the vote in elections that put the US elections to shame in terms of fairness.
Now, the Human Rights Watch group has issued a scathing, but an apparently disingenuous, report on human rights in Venezuela. Below, I cut and paste part of an article that answers some of the myths in the HRW report, but first think. Is there any country that elects a leader by landslides that takes away their rights, or that commits human rights abuses? Truly, only in the USA, under what has become an Orwellian society, do we continually elect leaders that abuse our human rights. In the rest of the world that doesn’t happen in free and fair elections. Check out the talking points below:
MYTH: “Discrimination on political grounds has been a defining feature of the Chávez presidency.”
FACT: Human Rights Watch deems the 2002 coup against the elected government “the most dramatic setback” for human rights in Venezuela in the last decade, but criticizes President Chavez’s own public condemnations of the unconstitutional overthrow as examples of “political discrimination” against the opposition. On the contrary, President Chávez last year pardoned political opponents who backed a failed 2002 coup against his democratically elected government. “It’s a matter of turning the page,” Chávez said. “We want there to be a strong ideological and political debate — but in peace.”[i] In this spirit, the government has often welcomed input from the opposition, for example, inviting the leaders of student protests to address the National Assembly.
MYTH: The Chávez administration has an “open disregard for the principle of separation of powers – specifically an independent judiciary.”
FACT: Human Rights Watch wrote in an earlier report that “When President Chávez became president in 1999, he inherited a judiciary that had been plagued for years by influence-peddling, political interference, and, above all, corruption…In terms of public credibility, the system was bankrupt.” Under Chávez though, Human Rights Watch admitted that access to justice in Venezuela was improved by the expansion of the court system.[ii] Also, the World Bank found that “the [judicial] reform effort has made significant progress – the STJ [Supreme Court] is more modern and efficient.”[iii] Testament to the strength of democratic institutions in Venezuela is the ability of the National Electoral Council to uphold decisions unfavorable to lawmakers, such as the “no” victory in the December 2007 referendum on constitutional reforms.
MYTH: “[Chávez] has significantly shifted the balance of the mass media in the government’s favor… by stacking the deck against critical opposition outlets.”
FACT: As was true at the time of the 2002 coup against Chávez, Venezuela’s media is dominated by opposition voices. The “anti-government” media mentioned by Human Rights Watch still maintains the largest share of the nation’s public airwaves, and their frequently extreme criticisms of the government have included calling for the overthrow of elected leaders (as in 2002). There are no major pro-government newspapers in Venezuela. The new government-funded television and radio outlets, such as TVes – Venezuela’s first public broadcaster – and TeleSur – a regional network with support from multiple countries – have a much smaller reach than the private outlets. Furthermore, the government has never censored or “shut down” opposition media. The private channel RCTV faced a non-renewal of its broadcast license due to persistent legal violations including inciting political violence, but the station easily made the switch to cable.
MYTH: The Chávez government “has sought to remake the country’s labor movement in ways that violate basic principles of freedom of association.”
FACT: The Chavez government has actively promoted the formation of labor unions and bargaining by organized labor, but has not co-opted this sector. The National Workers’ Union (UNT) was founded in April 2003 by workers supportive of government policies. In 2008, the government responded to an ongoing labor dispute between steel workers and the foreign-owned firm Sidor by intervening to negotiate a settlement, and when this was found to be impossible, the government reasserted state control over the Sidor plant in response to worker demands. The steel workers themselves were also allowed to purchase a share of the business themselves and thereby assert more control over the company.
MYTH: The Chávez government has pursued an “aggressively adversarial approach to local rights advocates and civil society organizations.”
FACT: The Chávez administration has encouraged local leaders to create community councils that let localities identify and address their own problems – from garbage collection to school construction. The concept comes from the belief that local groups know what is lacking and know what they want for their communities. Community councils democratize local government and give people the funding and capacity to make decisions for themselves. Also subject to local decision-making are many of the social missions that are designed to help reduce poverty in the most marginalized areas of the country. Health clinics, educational centers, subsidized food markets and other initiatives rely on local volunteers and are accountable to these communities.
Truly, this must be part of the drive to demonize Chavez and his government and eventually overthrow him in a coup or civil war, much like Allende was overthrown in Chile in 1973. This sort of move makes perfect sense if one is familiar with such works as “Deterring Democracy,” by Noam Chomsky, or “Confessions of an Economic Hitman,” by John Perkins (I think).
The US needs this sort of demonization in order to drum up domestic support for its future actions so that when it removes Chavez, it will be supported by the general populace of the USA. My job is to let my little voice out so that some might see what our secret combinations are up to.