Ideological Blindness of UN Expert is a Triumph for Venezuelan State Propaganda

Alfred De Zayas denies humanitarian crisis after meetings with 16 ministries and top government officials. He obviously didn’t visit any hospitals or take the subway.

Photo: Correo del Orinoco

“I’ve compared the statistics of Venezuela with those of other countries and there’s no humanitarian crisis.”

With these words, Alfred De Zayas, the Cuban-born American human rights expert sent by the United Nations last November to asses the state of the country, shows his limited scope in evaluating (or understanding) our crisis.

In a completely biased (and broadly divulged) interview to the government’s international propaganda branch news channel Telesur, De Zayas claims that “economic war” and “international blockade” are to blame for Venezuela’s dire situation: “Venezuela suffers an economic war, a financial blockade and a high level of smuggling, so of course it needs international solidarity to solve these issues.”

According to him, the international aid that Venezuela requires shouldn’t be aimed at pressing the openly dictatorial government of Nicolás Maduro and pave the way to an economic stabilization. It should lift the economic sanctions placed by the U.S., Canada and the European Union instead, things that “worsen the scarcity of food and medicines” and seek to “destroy the Bolivarian Revolution and the social laws approved by Chávez and Maduro.”

De Zayas uses the alleged blockade of antimalarial drugs coming from a Colombian lab by Juan Manuel Santos’ government a few months ago as an example of foreign sabotage, even though there’s no proof of such a thing; he also ignores that Venezuela receives most of its antimalarial drugs directly from the Panamerican Health Organization at subsidized prices (and the current malaria epidemic, the worst in the hemisphere, comes greatly from the government’s treatment of illegal mining and its poor prevention campaigns).

“Venezuela suffers an economic war, a financial blockade and a high level of smuggling, so of course it needs international solidarity to solve these issues.”

But he had time to complain about the “invisibilization” of his visit by mainstream media, where he held reunions with sixteen ministries, checked the state of government-controlled social plans and had a nice chat with Chancellor Arreaza and National Constituent Assembly President, Delcy Rodríguez.

But hey, he also met with Fedecámaras and visited a couple of supermarkets. That’s being impartial, right?

It’s a shame that Mr. De Zayas didn’t have the time to spend a night at any public hospital of the country, where he could have witnessed a mother giving her malnourished baby away, how surgical material is “sterilized” with regular alcohol and matches or how dialysis patients are about to die after weeks without therapies. He could’ve spared a few minutes to talk to the families of the protesters wounded or killed by the government’s repression last year.

Granted, Venezuela is not Syria or 1994’s Rwanda (yet), but an international lawyer and historian like Alfred De Zayas should know that dismissing the Venezuelan situation and buying the government’s narrative (while ignoring the clear signs of an incoming disaster) is the last thing the UN should do if they don’t want Venezuela on their growing list of historical mistakes.