For Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
Venezuela before the IACHR
A month has gone by since the massacre at Tumeremo and law enforcement have only arrested one man who participated in the executions, along with the alleged accountant who handled the money extorted by the gang run by “El Topo”. Venezuela is a milhojas of atrocities, so the effect of the whistleblowing scandal of the “Panama Papers” isn’t comparable to that in other countries. With justice at the service of the Executive Branch here, it seems that cases arising from the Mossack Fonseca data are just another source of stories that show local corruption – this time, running through foreign tax havens – and nothing more.
It’s difficult to make an impression on people used to dealing with a failed government, that uses crime as part of its strategy to stay in power; a Government represented by people like Bernardo Álvarez, Ambassador before the Organization of American States, who denied this Monday that we are experiencing a humanitarian healthcare crisis. This is neither arrogance nor cynicism, it’s an action that underpins an unjustifiable genocide for which there is painful evidence. But if you need a recent example, check out the complaint made by deputy and chairman of the National Assembly’s Health Committee, José Manuel Olivares, about 93 infants who have died in the Antonio Patricio de Alcalá hospital in Cumaná, just in the first three months of 2016.
Dead, but patriotic
The Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health and Life, along with Provea, met with Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, to explain the serious humanitarian situation in Venezuela, and to deliver a document summarizing the circumstances and including testimonials from patients. Almagro expressed concern over the issue and offered the assistance of the OAS to ensure the supply of medicines.
But for the Venezuelan Government, there’s no humanitarian crisis. Instead, there’s a problem with access: people hoarding medicines -a topic reported yesterday by Nicolás- plus the economic war, low oil prices and ¡holy explanations, Batman!
The Government made the mistake of referring to a call center where they receive “17,000 daily calls and 70% of the problems are resolved.” Those 17,000 calls daily are evidence of the healthcare crisis the Government denies. The point is that without them, without their admission of the crisis, it’s impossible to receive humanitarian aid despite the best intentions of any international organization.
The interest of the Venezuelan Government in human rights is evident in the time they waited to apply for visas required to attend the IACHR hearings. The hearings were scheduled in early March, but the Government -according to the secretariat of the IACHR- didn’t submit visa applications until March 30 and April 1st. A deliberate action to excuse their absence at the hearings, to repeat what they have done so far with the the National Assembly’s summons: ignoring them. There’s also evil in rudeness.
The Government’s rhetorical excuse for refusing to receive humanitarian aid is that it would amount to foreign intervention in this land of -insert here the names of your favorite Independence heroes, starting with Bolívar- and that’s unacceptable. Terminally ill but independent. Agonizing but loyal. Dead but patriotic. This reveals the strategy of the PSUV’s social conquests, well summarized in the #PanamáPapers: increasingly devalued bolívares for the people, ever cheaper dollars for the leaders, and Mossack-Fonseca can clean everything up.
The OLP failed
Provea and Human Rights Watch released a joint report this Monday in which they prove that the police and military raids in neighborhoods under the Operation for Liberation and Protection of the People (OLP) are ripe with very serious accusations including extrajudicial executions (erroneously referred to as “clashes”), arbitrary arrests, forced evictions, destruction of homes and even arbitrary deportations.
Here, the only ones who “don’t surrender” are the thugs, since an operation designed to combat them has failed so miserably that crime rates haven’t decreased while police and military abuse has increased, harming those they’re supposed to protect. There were beatings, abuses, evictions and robbery. No public information is available on the investigations derived from the OLP, and there’s very strong evidence, for example: the Prosecutor’s Office mentions 245 criminals killed in clashes. The official side has only had three officers killed and 14 wounded, demonstrating an absurd disparity as far as gunfights go. Mass arrests are another important fact, because out of the 14,000 people detained during operations, less than 100 were eventually charged with a crime.
I would like to acknowledge the good judgement and commitment of our human rights defenders present in Washington. Had it been myself who had to sit through listening to representatives of the State lie with such insolence while so many innocent people die, I would’ve at least taken off a shoe to throw it their foreheads.
This Monday, the National Electoral Council sent an official letter to the National Assembly reserving the exclusive right to draft legislative initiative in electoral matters and referenda, in other words, the CNE rejected the Referendum Law that Parliament discusses, arguing that only CNE directors may present electoral bills. Too bad that in 2009, the CNE didn’t apply this exclusivity to the Chavista-controlled National Assembly and allowed them to legislate on the matter, even ignoring their recommendations. The PSUV closes all doors to solving our serious institutional crisis.
…But we have Ekaré
Nice things also happen. We must put effort into them, like little plants sprouting in unexpected places. Let’s all congratulate the good people of Ediciones Ekaré who received the BOP Award for Best Children’s Book Editorial of the Year for Central and South America at the Bologna Fair today. In a country without paper, this is an outstanding achievement.