Human Rights Watch Issues Report On Loss Of Civil Liberties Under Chávez

The Human Rights Watch has issued a damning report on the loss of freedoms and civil liberties under Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. HRW found a comprehensive rollback of core political and legal rights for journalists, dissidents, and the courts. As I have noted before, I am astonished how many in the liberal community in the United States have been muted in their opposition to Chávez who has modeled his government on that of Castro in Cuba while establishing alliances with some of the worst dictators in the world.

The group paints a worsening picture for journalists, lawyers, judges and political opponents in the country — describing Chávez’s reign as the “Lost Decade” for the country. The report, entitled Tightening the Grip: Concentration and Abuse of Power in Chávez’s Venezuela, is a chilling example of how civil liberties can be lost in a relatively short period of time.

Source: FT

17 thoughts on “Human Rights Watch Issues Report On Loss Of Civil Liberties Under Chávez

  1. He knows. Human rights alright…… Just like Georges new book about economic growth……. I did say newbook…..

  2. M.Spindell says:

    ” Ego driven leadership always works out badly for the people.”

    “badly”? Really? Tell that to the average person in Venezuela.

  3. Amen. KRAAKEN.

    We keep electing right-wingers, so it’s hypocritical to blame Venezuelans
    for voting for the candidate of their choice – who just happens to have delivered on many of the same issues that most polls show average Americans want. You know, universal healthcare, better free education,
    better housing etc.

  4. Given the diminution of OUR civil liberties in this country, I am not at all certain that we have any moral right to say anything about any other country. We need to remove the log from our own eyes before we worry about the speck in someone elses eye.

  5. Human Rights Watch is not a pure and simple non-partisan organization and has made many errors and false accusations in some of their reports. SO I take their report with more than a grain of salt. Having said that, what they do report on is very disturbing from a civil liberties polint of view.

    While I am not a big fan of Chavez on many points as enumerated in this report, I also have to look at the context of historical events and recent history. The US was guilty of most of what is enumerated in this report during the McCarthy era, and worse. That happened with FAR less of a threat than the events in Venezuela have shown. The US in that era was in NO danger of a Communist Party coup that would overthrew the elected government as happened there by the pro-US puppets. The CIA has had a long and dishonorable history in that region, so much of their reaction to the opposition is understandable. Of course, there is the danger that by overreacting, they create the same kind of dictatorship that they were fighting against. The degenration of many if not most revolutions bears witness to that fact.

    So in general, I support what Chavez is doing, but I think that the means he is resorting to undermines the whole project and will lead to just as bad a situation as he was against. I think that those of us in the US should make our criticism in that context of friendship and not hatred of Chavez It is critical that those of us on the left make cogent critiques of Chavez from the left, to preserve the best parts of what he is doing, and to mute or get rid of the worst features which undermine the whole project.

  6. “…I am astonished how many in the liberal community in the United States have been muted in their opposition to Chávez who has modeled…”

    Perhaps it is a case of a few high profile stars (e.g., Sean Penn) skewing my perception, but far more astonishing to me is the active support for Mr. Chavez.

  7. Abdul,
    Your example of Turkey was a good one. The problem is we can view Attaturk from the perspective of history. By the same perspective the Russian Revolution had just causes without a doubt. From the perspective of history though, the cure was as bad as the disease. I can understand the problems Chavez faced and faces. President for Life though indicates someone who thinks himself totally the answer to progress. The purpose of revolutionary change is to develop a system that is equitable and viable, no matter who the leaders are. Ego driven leadership always works out badly for the people.

  8. Dictators trampling on people’s rights? What evidence is there of that? Most of them are just trying to defend themselves because there are threats against their lives — they don’t have any choice but to kill the folks who are intending to end their lives. We shouldn’t condemn them until we get all the facts!

  9. A lost decade? More like a lost century.

    Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t Venezuela experiencing greater and more shared economic growth than ever before? As Mike pointed out the country, and the continent it lies in, have faced exploitation and interference for centuries now. What Chavez is doing is disgusting and wrong, I would never condone hierarchal control of a state. However, I struggle to think of any successful nation-state born under imperial/colonial conditions that has not been founded on similar principles. Look at Turkey and Mustafa Kamal (Ataturk) who moved Turkey into the “modern-era” through strong-hand control and policies beyond the rich of a parliament let alone a single leader. He adopted the Latin scripture and threw out the Arabic style scripture. He banned the head scarf in public settings in a country predominantly Muslim. Not to mention his economic policies which resorted to state control. Totalitarian as these policies sound it is important to understand them in the context. Take the economic policies, for example. Just like Venezuela, Turkey (and the Ottoman Empire) suffered from foreign intervention in economic policies. So the state went the opposite direction and took full control.

    Considering the history of Venezuela (I’m no expert) we know the state media had long been controlled by the small class of ruling elite. It makes sense the state ruler rising from the impoverished class that had long suffered at the hands of the corrupt elite would take this extreme measure and seek control of state media.

  10. a communist/socialist dictator, who would have thought he would have trampled individual rights. No big surprise there.

  11. As usual Andy Gallup’s Opinion registers 100% agreement (no margin of error)with Mike Spindell. I too remember the 1959 revolution in Cuba and, although 12 years old, I knew about the brutality of Batista. Since then of course there is a lot of BS to sift through concerning Central and South America. I find I keep thinking about the final scene in “Che” when the Federal Officer brings in the peasant to meet Che and the old man tells them both to just go away and leave him and the people alone.

    • Andy,

      Another movie that deals with the same theme is “Viva Zapata” with Marlon Brando. Made in the late 40’s it is a classic story of the Mexican Revolution and the corrupting influence of power.
      It has influenced my ideas on politics since I saw it when I was 12, perhaps 8 years after it was made.

  12. When Fidel marched into Havanna in 1959 I wept because the brutal dictator Batista had fled. The US attempts to upend that revolution, kept me on Fidel ‘s side, until it became apparent by the mid 70’s that setting up a democratic state wasn’t Fidels intention. By now, 53 years later the same group is in power in Cuba. We see that Left Wing regimes can be just as undemocratically autocratic as those in the Right. The truth is that in many cases the “Ism” is secondary to the ego.

    Venezuela has always suffered from outside intervention and control. At one point it was under the thumb of the Rockefeller family and served ss their South American estate. Its resources and its people have been exploited, with the assistance of the CIA, for the benefit of commercial interests. The initial emergence of Chavez and his desire for Venezuelan autonomy seemed a refreshing change and it was easy to be sympathetic to his struggles. However, the minute he suggested he be made President for Life, he revealed his true agenda.

    Too many of us are misled by a persons particular stand on issues we consider critical. Due to this we lose sight of the fact that many leaders of all stripes are sociopathic egomaniacs, who use issues to disguise and justify their own will to power. While we all like to believe that politics is about issues, the truth is that most often it is about self interest of those who believe they are the only leadership alternative.

  13. The bully religion is on a membership drive and doing quite well, praise the bullies.

    Human rights seem to be written down on old, brown, degenerating scrolls.

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