Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Venezuela: What a show trial looks like

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Venezuelan Court Bars Defense for Opposition Leader
As Leopoldo López’s trial got under way Wednesday for allegedly inciting violence in a bid to topple the government, his defense faced a problem: They were banned from calling witnesses and evidence on his behalf.

In addition to not being able to call 63 witnesses the defense had proposed, the court barred Mr. López’s defense team from presenting 18 videos taken by journalists at the protest. Hearing from those witnesses would provide clarity over what happened, said Mr. Gutiérrez, because the prosecution is accusing protesters of throwing Molotov cocktails at the Attorney General’s Office. He said no images have emerged depicting that kind of violence.

Meanwhile, the court ruled that the prosecution is permitted to call more than 100 witnesses, mostly government employees.

Mexico: Impunity for attacks on the press

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2014 report on the conditions journalists face in Mexico,

Impunity for attacks on the press can be attributed in large part to a combination of state and local authorities’ ineptitude and their involvement with or fear of organized crime groups. Federal authorities are not fully trusted by journalists either, though federal prosecutors can claim more professionalism and distance from the corruption and threats that impede subnational officials. Statutes that took effect in May implemented a 2012 constitutional reform empowering
the Office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Free Expression. Prior to the implementing regulations, the office had lacked the authority to assert jurisdiction over cases and had achieved just one conviction in six years. Despite the changes, Special Prosecutor Laura Borbolla was initially hesitant to claim jurisdiction without state officials’ approval. By August
her office had taken on only one homicide case, the 2008 murder of El Diario de Juárez police reporter Armando Rodríguez Carreón.

According to Human Rights Watch, another federal program, the Protection Mechanism for Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, was “seriously undermined by a lack of funds and political support at all levels of government.” Journalists and human rights defenders who sought risk assessment and protection measures faced long delays and inadequate safeguards. Some journalists do benefit from the program, such as Emilio Lugo, editor of the Agoraguerrero news website, who was relocated from Guerrero after his investigations and criticisms of state
authorities resulted in threats. Although there is no confirmed count of Mexican journalists in exile, tenuous security conditions have prompted several to leave the country. Verónica Basurto, an investigative television reporter in Mexico City, criticized the federal protection process as inadequate and fled to Europe after receiving multiple threats. Miguel Ángel López, whose
journalist father and brother were murdered in Veracruz in 2011, received asylum in the United States in June.

In our hemisphere, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador do not have a free press.


Who is to gain from smearing Robert Menendez?

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Long-time readers of this blog know that I have not written favorably about the senior senator from New Jersey in the past.

This new story, however, has the fetid odor of a smear campaign:
Feds reportedly looking into Robert Menendez for allegedly helping fugitive bankers. The “fugitive bankers” are Ecuadorian brothers William and Roberto Isaías, who fled Ecuador ten years ago after the government allegedly confiscated media outlets they owned which were critical of the government. They are here legally.

The Isaías brothers

have a variety of real estate and oil holdings in the United States, and recently acquired to broadcast rights of CNN Latino. They have also created a network of private schools, according to Andes, Ecuador’s state news agency.

Now NBC NY is echoing the accusations the Ecuadorian government made against the brothers, charges for which Ecuador has provided no evidence,

The ambassador recommended the Isaias brothers be kicked out of the United States. But to date, the Justice Department says Ecuador’s government, which has been at odds with the U.S. in recent years, has not provided enough evidence to warrant extradition.

Ecuador has seized many of the Isaias brothers’ assets in that country. But so far, a court in Florida has rejected Ecuador’s efforts to seize assets inside the U.S.

Based on unnamed sources, NBC says that

the FBI is looking into why the New Jersey Democrat contacted a high-ranking official at the Department of Homeland Security in April 2012 to ask him to give “full consideration” and “expedite” its review of the case of William and Roberto Isaias, who are seeking permanent residence in the U.S. The report said Menendez also made calls to the Department of State about the brothers.

And Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s chancellor, has said he thinks campaign donations to American politicians have helped the brothers stay in the country.

Let’s ponder that for a moment: The Correa regime thinks something, so NBC NY runs a story on it?

The same NBC whose talking heads support immigration amnesty?

There remains the Melgen investigation. A grand jury in Florida already found no basis for the prostitution allegations; the remaining investigation should be concluded and not dragged unnecessarily.

But this new story is flimsy indeed. Members of Congress routinely hear from their constituents on a variety of issues, and, going by the article, Menendez does not appear to have done anything inappropriate.

Menendez said that he had not heard anything from federal authorities.

Menendez, a member of Congressional Human Rights Caucus, has been a staunch supporter of human rights, meeting with dissidents, and consistently opposing lifting the travel ban on Cuba, “a regime that denies its own people basic human rights,”

He’s consistently shown vigorous support for the State of Israel against Hamas in Gaza, and supports international sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program – the sanctions that Ecuador and Venezuela attempt to help Iran avoid.

So, let’s ask, who gains from smearing Menendez? Who is to gain from having Menendez removed as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations?

UPDATE:
Ecuadorians Deny Making Improper Contributions to Sen. Menendez

Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!


Cuba: Institutionalized racism

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Mary O’Grady writes on a topic ignored by leftist bien-pensants: Institutionalized racism and how “the Cuban military dictatorship, run by a white junta, held and tortured the black political prisoner Eusebio Peñalver for 28 years”:
Mandela’s Message Didn’t Make It to Cuba
In Havana a small white clique rules a majority black nation.

As commenter Maria Werlau points out,

Most of the people jailed in Cuban prisons are Afro-Cubans and they are dying at an alarming rate. Prison conditions are horrifying; the Cuban government does not allow monitoring by the Red Cross and international human rights organizations. See a recent report on deaths and disappearances under Raul Castro’s rule at:
http://cubaarchive.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=21&Itemid=95

Eusebio Peñalver was locked up for 28 years, one more than Nelson Mandela.

Reformed dictators don’t exist

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Michael Moynihan explains why in article, Kim Jon Un & The Myth of the Reformer Dictator
Snap out of it, folks—tyrants don’t change their stripes. North Korea’s murderous boy king should crush that misguided hope forever.

Michael starts with Kim, and continues on to Castro,

But for those of us skeptical of wishful predictions of reformist dictators, there is no better example than the Cuban dictatorship, which has been said to be reforming every year since 1959.

In 1984, the Associated Press (AP) excitedly wrote that “visitors to Havana…note a new candor in the press—open criticism of unproductive factories, poor restaurant service and similar problems.” In 1990, the AP reported that, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was giving its “first hint of making some reforms.” (There’s that word hint again.) In 1993, the AP again reported that Cuba was “open[ing the] economy with new reforms,” as the “nation moves farther from socialism.” In 1994, the Washington Post reported that new reforms would “improve Cuba’s economy,” while “blackouts lessen [and] tourism revives.” In 2008, the New York Times told us that Raul Castro was “nudg[ing] Cuba toward reforms.” And in 2012, the normally sober editorialists at The Economist indulged in some wishful thinking: “Under Raúl Castro, Cuba has begun the journey towards capitalism.”

One would assume with all of these reforms, Cuba would have by now morphed into a tropical facsimile of Norway. But Raul Castro’s “reforms” have been about as impressive as Gaddafi’s or Mugabe’s (they never include elections, do they?), yet one still can’t avoid the excited press notices that change is afoot in Castroville.

Last Sunday, the New York Times revealed that “in Cuba’s press, streets and living rooms” there were “glimmers of openness to criticism.” This new openness apparently lasted two days. Because on Tuesday, the AP reported that “Cuban government agents…detained about 20 dissidents arriving for an International Human Rights Day march, halting the demonstration before it started.” And a week later, the AP threw more cold water on the idea of reform with the following headline: “Raul Castro Issues Stern Warning to Entrepreneurs.”

For reasons that will forever confound me, Cuba has—and always will—maintain a dedicated following of fellow travellers and dim-witted sycophants; those who believe that preventing free elections and a free press is a reasonable price to pay for universal, undersupplied, and substandard health care. But it appears that the only person left on Earth who believes North Korea is on the precipice of change is former basketball star Dennis Rodman. On his latest visit to Pyongyang, Rodman told reporters that despite the summary executions, drumhead courts, labor camps, and frequent bouts of mass starvation, “it’s all love, it’s all love here.”

And reform is just around the corner.

Speaking of starvation, make sure to read THIRTY DAYS AS A CUBAN
Pinching pesos and dropping pounds in Havana
, by Patrick Symmes, if you haven’t already.

Cuba’s foreign prisoners

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

My latest article at Da Tech Guy: Cuba’s foreign prisoners

Venezuela: The start of the really bad news

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro inaugurates a new state of bad news in Venezuela: Like his Cuban Communist bosses, Maduro is now incarcerating business owners. Their crime? Owning a business:
Venezuela Arrests 100 ‘Bourgeois’ Businessmen In Crackdown, Maduro Says

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday that authorities had arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging since the weekend.

“We have more than 100 of the bourgeoisie behind bars at the moment,” Maduro said in a speech to the nation.

One of them movingly tries to protest (in Spanish) in vain,

Make no mistake, this is the start of the really bad news.

Venezuela’s House of Cards goes from bad to worse, as Steve Hanke points out:

the implied monthly inflation rate has now ramped up to 36%, as shown in the chart below. That’s dangerously close to the hyperinflation threshold of 50% per month. This is due to an accelerating depreciation of the bolivar, reflecting Venezuelan’s deteriorating economic outlook.

Indeed, the repression is going to worsen, as the regime will never admit that Communism doesn’t work.


Cuba: Foreign businessmen jailed for wanting to collect

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Do business with Cuba + travel to Cuba trying to get paid = go to jail

The Miami Herald reports on Panamanian businessman Nessin Abadi, in his early 70s and owner of the large Audiofoto chain of electronics stores
, jailed without charges in Cuba for over a year, like many others,

Few of those cases “have been reported in the press and there are many more in the system than is widely known,” [Stephen] Purvis wrote. “As they are all still either waiting for charges, trial or sentencing they will certainly not be talking to the press.”

Purvis also appeared to indicate that Cuba targeted certain businessmen in order to make room for deals with businessmen from other countries that are more politically in tune with Havana and may not push so hard for their debts to be paid.

Purvis wrote to The Economist that the jailed businessmen are from several countries, “although representatives from Brazil, Venezuela and China were conspicuous by their absence.”

Stephen Purvis’s company, as you may recall, Coral Capital, was behind the Bellomonte Golf and Country Club development, which lost £10.6 million. He spent 16 months in jail and was released last July, along with Amado Fakhre, who was the company’s executive director.

The Herald mentions others,

Canadian Sarkis Yacoubian was sentenced to nine years in a prison in June even though he cooperated with authorities in detailing a corruption scheme that also brought down several government officials. His cousin and business partner, Krikor Bayassalian, a Lebanese citizen, was sentenced to four years in prison.

Still awaiting trial is another Canadian, Cy Tokmakjian, who like Yacoubian sold transportation and other equipment to the Cuban government. He was arrested in 2011.

Abadi is not the first Panamanian businessman to run afoul in Cuba.

Alejandro Abood, then 50, was arrested in Havana in 2001 in what an El Nuevo Herald report at the time described as a roundup of Cubans and foreigners suspected of spying activities close to the offices of then-ruler Fidel Castro.

Purvis asserts that “there are many more in the system than is widely known.” You can read his letter to The Economist here.

Bahamas: Cuban arrivals from Bahamas allege beatings and sexual abuses

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

The Miami Herald reports that Cuban arrivals from Bahamas allege beatings and sexual abuses

The first Cubans to arrive in Miami from a notorious migrant detention center in Bahamas this month alleged Friday that guards regularly beat some of the male inmates and sexually abused some of the women.

One of the women repatriated from the center to Cuba earlier this month arrived pregnant by a guard, according to the Democracy Movement, a Miami group that has been helping the undocumented migrants detained in Nassau.

The movement led a string of protests against the Bahamas government this summer after detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre smuggled out cell phone images of inmates sewing their lips together in protest and an alleged guard kicking prisoners.

Haitians have also complained about the conditions at the infamous Carmichael Road detention center for many years.


En español: Bayly entrevista al Padre Conrado

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Entrevista de Jaime Bayly con el Padre José Conrado, disidente cubano conocido como “el Cardenal del pueblo”. Escuchen ambas partes, ya que el Padre nos inspira a todos:

Primera parte,

Segunda parte, con Silvia,