Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Argentina: Veterans take torture case to inter-American court of human rights

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Argentinian Falklands veterans take ‘torture’ case to international arena
Veterans of the 1982 conflict recount their ordeal and the anti-Semitic abuse they faced in a press conference, including instances of beatings and sexual violence

Argentinian Falklands War veterans who accuse military officers of torture during the 1982 conflict will take their case to an international appeal court after Argentina’s highest court ruled the alleged offences’ statute of limitations had expired.

Mario Volpe, the president of the CECIM Falklands veterans’ association, said his organisation had asked the inter-American court of human rights to rule on whether the Argentinian state had deprived the former soldiers of “the right of access to justice and right to the truth”.

CECIM has gathered together some 150 complaints of former servicemen against their officers during the military dictatorship’s ill-fated invasion of the Falklands, which include instances of beatings, sexual violence, cruel immobilising practices in the absence of punishment cells and the application of electric shocks.

Their case had previously been dismissed under the statute of limitations, now they are appealing to the OAS’s International Court of Human Rights.

For her part, Cristina said, good luck with that “I hope you go to the inter-American Court; I’m sure you will be listened to.”

I’m still reading The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina and highly recommend it.

Venezuela: Fire at will

Friday, January 30th, 2015

The Venezuelan government has authorized its military to fire upon civilians at rallies and public demonstrations:

The armed forces are now directed to use “potentially lethal force, whether with firearm or any other potentially lethal weapon”, as last resort to “avoid disorders, support legitimate authority, and reject all aggression, confronting it immediately and by the necessary means.”
( “uso de la fuerza potencialmente mortal, bien con el arma de fuego o con otra arma potencialmente mortal”, como último recurso para “evitar los desórdenes, apoyar la autoridad legítimamente constituida y rechazar toda agresión, enfrentándola de inmediato y con los medios necesarios”.)

The resolution makes no distinction between peaceful or violent demonstrations, and may most likely be unconstitutional (link in Spanish), but, as Emiliana Duarte points out,

There’s a grim kind of tradeoff at play here: the government’s relaxed brutality when it comes to Human Rights affords them the time to hesititate over the economic shitstorm that’s creating the protests they will need to repress in the first place.

And, really, who’s to argue against expediency for the sake of peace?

In other news, Key Evidence in Leopoldo López Case Allegedly Manipulated
Lawyers to File Criminal Complaint against Discrepancies in Court Documents

Cuba: File this one under “No sh*t, Sherlock”

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Pres. Obama gave a speech the week before Christmas, and everything was taken care of: Cuba’s outdated Cold War mentality magically transformed into an age of enlightenment and human rights.

So here we go,
After First Normalization Talks With Cuba, U.S. Says Deep Divisions Remain
Human Rights, Support for Dissidents Are Main Areas of Disagreement

Who wouldha thunk it!

Back in the olden days enlightened despots

did not propose reforms that would undermine their sovereignty or disrupt the social order.

Nowadays there’s the Viet Nam outcome,

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely.

Same old, same old.

Linked to by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!

Venezuela: Kidnappings and extorsion prior to jailings

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

El Nuevo Herald has a report on how Venezuelan intelligence agents are running kidnapping and extortion gangs:
Agentes de inteligencia venezolanos operan bandas de secuestro y extorsión (my translation)

“This is a very common modus operandi”, explained Anthony Daquín, former advisor to the Venezuelan Ministry of Interior and Justice. “Agents of the Military Counterintelligence Agency and the Sebin [Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – Bolivarian National Intelligence Service] are running these kidnapping and extortion gangs”.

Their victims are people accused of crimes by chavista courts, and the kidnappings are carried by the same agents of these agencies, usually a day or two prior to the victims being delivered to the prosecutors for trial.

The purpose is to get as much money and assets as possible from the victims, often under torture, prior to being turned in to chavista justice.

The article is available only in Spanish, not yet in the Miami Herald.

Just the other day the NYTimes had Diosdado Cabello writing that “Our government responded with restraint” to the riots. Let’s see if they respond at all to these accusations.

Welcome to Venezuela, the kidnap capital of the world

Their men in Caracas: the Cuban expats shoring up Maduro’s government
From military advisers to aid workers, thousands of Cubans form an information network across Venezuela’s economy

Cuba: The wall

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Maria Werlau of Cuba Archive writes about how Cuba refuses to tear down its wall (h/t Asher):

Barbed wire, high fences, mine fields, watch towers, ferocious dogs, and sharpshooters firing at unarmed civilians…the tropical version of the Berlin Wall prevents escapees from reaching the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo. Cuba’s distinctive version of the barrier extends into Guantánamo Bay, where border guards fire from patrol boats or throw grenades at anyone trying to swim to the base.

In the mid-1990s, Cuba built a sea wall, visible on Google Earth. Its movable net allows authorized maritime traffic but is manned by guards trained to trap swimmers trying to get to the base.

While the NYT pushes for the end of the so-called embargo,

Cuba’s Penal Code (Article 215) continues to forbid citizens from leaving the island without prior government authorization. Attempting to do so is punishable with years of prison. Stealing or hijacking a vessel to flee can lead to capital punishment.

The Cuba Archive has documented 80 people killed or missing in attempts to reach the base.

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?

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:

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.