On the streets of Argentina and Venezuela, many asked what their leaders were doing in Cuba when they were struggling with Latin America’s highest rates of inflation and the palpable fear that things could worsen when private investment is veering toward a recovering American economy.
Apparently, the first objective of that organization, as declared, is: “To reaffirm that the preservation of democracy and democratic values, the validity of the institutions and the Rule of Law, a commitment to the respect for, and the validity of, all human rights for all, are the essential objectives of our countries.”
What do these people understand democracy to be? Cuba, like the other countries hatched by the now-extinct Soviet Union, is a one-party dictatorship older than half a century where no individual freedoms exist and no human rights are respected. While the CELAC is being held, the political police harasses and bashes the Ladies in White and the opposition democrats who dare to protest. Is anyone unaware of this?
Cuban dissidents and activists plan to hold a forum on democracy in Havana on Jan. 28, parallel to the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, opposition sources told Efe on Saturday.
Organized by the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America, or CADAL, and the dissident group Arco Progresista, the forum hopes to bring together members of the opposition like Guillermo Fariñas and Jose Daniel Ferrer, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler, blogger Yoani Sanchez and activist Antonio Rodiles, among other representatives of civil society on the island.
Washington backed a similar resolution in June last year, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear in a joint press conference with Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires in March 2010 that the Obama administration fully backs Argentina’s calls for negotiations over the Falkands, handing her Argentine counterpart a significant propaganda coup. The State Department has also insultingly referred to the Islands in the past as the Malvinas, the Argentine name for them.
There are a few things to consider:
The Falklanders are British, and wish to remain British.
Britain won the 1982 war.
Additionally, Cristina Fernandez needs both oil, and a distraction.
The declaration calls for Argentina and Great Britain to enter into negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, a position which London has long viewed as completely unacceptable. It also comes in the wake of increasing aggression by the Kirchner regime in the past 18 months, including threats to blockade British shipping in the South Atlantic.
the OAS declaration comes in response to a threat of military action from Argentina, which has publicly talked about a blockade of British shipping in the region over sovereignty claims by Buenos Aires.
Argentina is now run by the Peronist Party, whose founder, Juan Peron openly sympathized with America’s fascist enemies in World War II, and knowingly gave refuge to fleeing Nazi war criminals. Argentina’s recent Presidents, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, have nationalized private pensions and plundered the private sector to pay for big government and welfare schemes. The OAS declaration “comes in the wake of increasing aggression by the Kirchner regime in the past 18 months, including threats to blockade British shipping in the South Atlantic.”
Residents of the Falkland Islands have eminently sound reasons for wanting to remain in Britain, the birthplace of parliamentary democracy, rather than Argentina, which has too often been ruled by authoritarian strongmen like Peron or by military governments. The United Kingdom scores higher on international measures of property rights and the rule of law than Argentina does.
Former President Manuel Zelaya is expected to return to Honduras within a month, ending an exile that began nearly two years ago when he was ousted in a coup, an aide and a key supporter said Wednesday.
Conditions are right for Mr. Zelaya to return from the Dominican Republic after the Honduran Supreme Court dropped corruption charges against him, said Rasel Tomé, a senior aide of the former president.
Mr. Zelaya’s return could pave the way for Honduras to be reincorporated into the Organization of American States, which suspended the country after the coup in June 2009.
The United States and many other countries in the hemisphere have long since restored diplomatic ties with Honduras, but some nations, including Venezuela and Brazil, have declined to do so.
The protestors, mostly university students and youth activists, have been calling for the OAS to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Venezuela as well as for the release of jailed opposition figures they believe are political prisoners. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has said that he could not meet with the protesters in Caracas without an invitation from the Venezuelan government.
Maduro said the protest should be handled internally, without the intervention of the U.S. or international organizations. He also alleged that right-wing opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government were operating from Miami and playing a part in orchestrating the hunger strike.
About a dozen students and activists began a fast Jan. 31 outside the local Caracas office of the OAS. Some news reports have stated that the protest has grown to include as many as 65 protestors.
The protesters have called for the release of several jailed opposition figures including two jailed members of the national parliament. One of the officials faces corruption charges while the other has been found guilty of being complicit in a homicide.
On Friday, the hash tags #OperacionLibertad, and #HuelgaDeHambre saw feverish activity as tweets supporting the Venezuelan hunger strike poured into those conversations.
“#OperacionLibertad is for all Venezuelans!,” Milagros González tweeted in Spanish. “They aren’t in a hunger strike for nothing! They are using their bodies as a tribute to the survival of Venezuela.#OperacionLibertad,” Rafael Marín wrote.
Hoewver, Llenas’s article trivializes the plight of the hunger strikers by comparing them to the University of Puerto Rico students striking over a $800/yr tuition increase. I am also doubtful that the strike will lead to Egypt-like riots at this time.
The fact of the matter here is that the regime has long ago placed human life in the bargain department. How can you explain that Chavez does not lose any sleep over the thousands and thousands of violent murders taking place every year in Venezuela? When someone has the chutzpah to say that those murders are not his responsability then you know he is not hurting whatsoever.
The way the regime has managed the natural disaster victims since 1999 is another telling sign: they are simply exploited for political purposes and real help is barred if it does not serve the regime purposes. For memory, the refusal of help from the US in 1999 or the confiscation of the relief truck of Voluntad Popular last year.
And equally as damaging if not as bloody, is the total ignorance by the regime of the brain and energy drain that Venezuela is suffering. For all practical purposes these people leaving Venezuela in search of better hopes under other skies should be also accounted with the “death toll” of the people we will never see again.
The reality here is that we are dealing with a regime who is not afraid to eliminate its opponents. It has not been that obvious so far in an era of Internet and CNN, but all the signs are there, do not be mistaken, elimination is an ever present option for these people.
The US media’s attention is elsewhere, which makes the possible outcome all the more unpredictable.
In a two-hour presentation before the permanent council at the Organization of American States, Colombian OAS ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos laid out a series of photos, videos, maps, satellite images and computer documents that Colombia claims show the rebels using Venezuela as a safe haven much the same way they were using Ecuador.
Mr. Hoyos also charged that Venezuela knows about the guerrilla camps—some of which have been there for a long time—and has done nothing about them. Indeed, the Venezuelan National Guard sometimes consorts with the rebels, Mr. Hoyos said.
Given this new information, Mr. Chávez’s reaction to Colombia’s 2008 incursion into Ecuador now looks logical. Bogotá justified that raid on the grounds that its appeals to Quito to go after FARC taking rest and relaxation in its territory had gone nowhere. Now we know that Mr. Chávez had reason to believe he would be next.
But Mr. Uribe launched a different sort of offensive on Thursday. Instead of a military operation, he bundled new intelligence on the FARC’s Venezuelan outposts and dropped it like a bomb on the OAS permanent council.
The facts were no surprise. For years, Bogotá has been complaining—with no shortage of proof—about the friendly treatment Venezuela gives the guerrillas. But by packaging and delivering the new evidence as he did, Mr. Uribe put Mr. Chávez, very publicly, on the spot. More importantly, he has forced the issue with his hemispheric counterparts.
Mr. Hoyos told the OAS that there are some 1,500 rebels across the border in more than 75 camps. There they regroup, organize, train and prepare explosives. This safe-haven status, he explained, produces more kidnapping and drug trafficking on both sides of the border. And more carnage in Colombia: Graphic photos of rebel victims flashed on a screen while he spoke.
Mr. Hoyos did not call for sanctions against Venezuela. Instead he asked for an international commission to verify Colombia’s claims. He promised that his government could provide the “precise coordinates” of farms and haciendas where the rebels are ensconced. “If what is there is only a little school and humble peasants, there would be no problem with an international commission to verify if Colombia’s accusation is not true,” Mr. Hoyos argued.
The gang at Gomez Palacio were responsible for 33 murders in three incidents, including the massacre of 17 people at a rented hall filled mainly with young adults. They fired more than 120 rounds into the crowd; it was the bullet casings that led investigators back to Gomez Palacio. The prison director and three of his henchmen have been placed under house arrest, although considering this story, that may wind up being more secure than prison anyway.
This should impress the truth on people, which is that the problem in Mexico isn’t American guns, or any kind of guns at all. The problem in Mexico is corruption.
The director, who recently met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, also slammed the U.S. policy toward Iran as “horrible.”
“Iran isn’t necessarily the good guy,” said Stone. “[B]ut we don’t know the full story!”
The Scarface screenwriter had even more encouraging words for socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who Stone called “a brave, blunt, earthy” man. The director has recently been promoting his Chavez-praising documentary called “South of the Border.”
When the interviewer pointed out that Chavez has had a less-than-stellar record on human rights, Stone immediately dismissed the criticism.
“The internet’s fully free [in Venezuela],” said Stone. “You can say what the hell you like. Compare it with all the other countries: Mexico, Guatemala, above all Colombia, which is a joke.”
While Stone has not been as blunt about his views on Jews and the Holocaust in the past, he has been outspoken in his fondness for Chavez and his disagreements with the U.S.’s policy on Iran.
On ABC’s Good Morning America on July 28, the director told anchor George Stephanopoulos that he “absolutely” believes Chavez is a good person, and claimed that there was “there’s no pattern of censorship in this country [Venezuela].”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said his country will sever diplomatic ties with Colombia over claims he harbours militants.
“We have no other choice but to totally break our relations with our brother nation of Colombia,” he said on TV.
The Venezuelan president made his announcement while standing next to the Argentina football coach, Diego Maradona, who was visiting Caracas.
Mr Chavez said that he was acting “out of dignity”.
“I have ordered maximum alert on our border, maximum vigilance on our border which we do take care of,” he was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.
During the OAS meeting, the Colombian ambassador to the OAS, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, accused Venezuela of harboring 1,500 terrorists in 39 camps, and provided video evidence, eyewitness accounts, coordinates of the camps’ locations, and photographs, which will be verified by third parties. Here’s part of the video (in Spanish) presented at the meeting:
Colombia demanded that Venezuela stop harboring terrorists and that Venezuela allow an international commission to visit the sites. Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS Roy Chaderton declared the Colombian allegations “a lie”.
Colombia had previously recalled its ambassador to Caracas, Maria Luisa Chiappe.
The United States will support Chile’s Jose Miguel Insulza in his bid for another five years as head of the Organization of American States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday in a letter to the OAS secretary-general that was seen by Efe.
In the letter, Clinton said that it was a “pleasure” to inform Insulza that the Barack Obama administration will support his reelection and that of the assistant secretary-general, Alberto Ramdin, of Suriname, at Wednesday’s special OAS General Assembly in the U.S. capital.
The vote of confidence by Washington comes despite the campaign against Insulza launched a month ago by certain Republican lawmakers and the editorial page of The Washington Post.
Despite the adoption in 2001 of a “democracy charter,” the OAS has done little to stem what has been a steady erosion of free elections, free press and free assembly in Latin America during the past five years. When Honduras’s president was arrested and dispatched to exile by the military last year, the organization was aggressive but clumsy — and ended up making a democratic outcome harder to achieve. In the case of countries where democracy has been systematically dismantled by a new generation of authoritarian leaders, including Venezuela and Nicaragua, the OAS has failed to act at all.
The embodiment of this dysfunction has been OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. A Chilean socialist, Mr. Insulza has unabashedly catered to the region’s left-wing leaders — which has frequently meant ignoring the democratic charter. Last year, he pushed for the lifting of Cuba’s ban from the OAS, even though there has been no liberalization of the Castro dictatorship. When Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez launched a campaign against elected leaders of his opposition, stripping them of power and launching criminal investigations, Mr. Insulza refused to intervene, claiming the OAS “cannot be involved in issues of internal order of member states.” Yet when leftist Honduran President Manuel Zelaya tried to change his own country’s internal order by illegally promoting a constitutional referendum, Mr. Insulza supported him, even offering to dispatch observers.
The WaPo reasonably requested that
The United States should make clear that it will not support any secretary general whose platform on democracy issues is inadequate. Congress should meanwhile consider whether the United States should continue to provide the bulk of the funding for the OAS when it fails to live by its own charter.
The request fell on the deaf ears of “smart diplomacy.”
The human rights branch of the Organization of American States issued a blistering 300-page report Wednesday against Venezuela, saying that the oil-rich country run by President Hugo Chávez constrains free expression, the rights of its citizens to protest and the ability of opposition politicians to function.
The report, compiled and written by the OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, reflects growing concern in the region over how one of the organization’s member states is governed. The document holds legitimacy for human rights investigators and diplomats because it has the imprimatur of the commission, which is run independently from the OAS and largely free of its political machinations.
“This is a professional report, and the commission has been progressively more critical about Chávez over the years,” said Michael Shifter, an analyst who tracks Venezuela for the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. “There’s a growing sense of the greater risks of human rights abuses and authoritarianism in Venezuela.”
The commission has in the past issued major reports about serious violations in a number of countries, notably targeting the military junta in 1970s-era Argentina and the quasi-dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori in Peru.
Chávez has railed against the OAS as beholden to the interests of the United States. Venezuela declined to cooperate with the commission, its members said, prompting commissioners — jurists and rights activists from Antigua, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador and the United States — to hold hearings and seek out Venezuelan activists and politicians to compile information about the suspected abuses.
Senior US officials insisted that Washington’s position on the Falklands was one of longstanding neutrality. This is in stark contrast to the public backing and vital intelligence offered by President Reagan to Margaret Thatcher once she had made the decision to recover the islands by force in 1982.
“We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality,” a State Department spokesman told The Times. “The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.”
Well, I’ll say this for Obama: He’s consistent. Whether it’s the Poles, the Czechs, or the Brits, the message is clear. On his watch (too kind a word) longstanding American allies can be expected to be taken for granted, insulted and, if convenient, dumped. Now, every country (including, of course, the U.S.) must do what it needs do in the pursuit of its national interests, and those alone. In foreign policy nothing else should count. But a clear view of what those interests are is indispensable, and that must include a full understanding of what the consequence of particular actions might be. If Obama is again showing that, with him at the helm, the U.S. is not a reliable ally to its friends, then he must learn to expect less from those friends.
“We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality. The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.”
The remarks had echoes of an earlier statement by a senior State Department protocol official who, when asked about the shoddy treatment of the British Prime Minister in March last year, responded:
“There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”
Even by the relentlessly poor standards of the Obama administration, whose doctrine unfailingly appears to be “kiss your enemies and kick your allies”, this is a new low. The White House’s neutrality in a major dispute between America’s closest friend and the likes of Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez, Argentina’s biggest backer, represents the appalling appeasement of an alliance of anti-Western Latin American regimes, stretching from Caracas to Havana – combined with a callous indifference towards the Anglo-American alliance.
The Organization of American States Permanent Council will hold an extraordinary meeting Tuesday to assess the situation in Honduras following the interruption of the process agreed by both sides to end the several months political crisis.
The “interruption of the process” is that Mel Zelaya decided to backtrack after he committed to the agreement.
The article continues,
In last Wednesday’ session several countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Brazil expressed concern because of the delay in the implementation of the much worked Tegucigalpa/San Jose accord.
The council requested a new report on the situation from OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza and reaffirmed that the November 29th election results will not be recognized unless ousted president Manuel Zelaya is reinstated in office.
The OAS is simply echoing Hugo Chavez: the Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, declared that Micheletti is a mouse toying with the OAS.
It’s more accurate to say Mr. Zelaya moved to destroy the accord. It called for him to propose members of the reconciliation government by Nov. 5, and it also gave Honduras’s Congress the right to vote whether to reinstate him as president. But Mr. Zelaya refused to make his appointments, even while Mr. Micheletti proposed his appointments on time. On Friday, Mr. Zelaya declared the accord null and void before Congress could vote on whether to restore him to power. Interestingly, he had insisted on adding the congressional vote to the agreement, so his decision to blow up the process before the vote is an indication that even he realizes he would lose a vote in a Congress controlled by his liberal party.
If there is to be a resolution to this crisis, it will likely only come if the Obama administration (which helped both sides hammer out the accord), leaders in the U.S. Congress, and the Organization of American States (OAS) make sure that Mr. Zelaya does not get away with breaking his word.
One vital part of the accord calls for international monitors to go to Honduras to prepare for the presidential elections, which are scheduled for Nov. 29. Under the accord the monitors will work with the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal, a four-member body appointed by Honduras’s Congress when Mr. Zelaya was in power, and which is independent of the executive branch. The White House and the U.S. Congress need to call for this step to be taken immediately.
Mr. Zelaya’s modus operandi is clear. In 2005, he got elected president while vowing to uphold the constitution. He then violated the country’s constitution by pushing for a vote that would have allowed him to extend his time in office. Honduras’s Constitution specifically states that a president who does that is to be automatically removed, which is why the country’s Supreme Court and Congress supported his removal. Mr. Zelaya’s response was to turn to OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and the OAS to support him in ignoring his constitutional and legal commitments—and they did so.
Mr. Zelaya’s agenda is to reinstall himself to power before the presidential elections. If he succeeds, he might be able to disrupt those elections and create a constitutional crisis by ensuring that no one is credibly elected president. If that occurs, he would likely declare himself president ad infinitum—just what he was trying to do when he was ousted in June.
The bottom line is that a deal is a deal. The U.S. government needs to insist on the implementation of the accord and endorse the results of the Nov. 29 presidential elections as verified by international monitors. Once that happens, Mr. Zelaya will be irrelevant, a footnote as a president who thought he was above the constitution./blockquote>Amen to that.
As you know, currently representatives from the Honduran government and Zelayistas are meeting in Honduras, along with OAS members and the US’s Subsecretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Thomas Shannon.
The OAS’s Insulza and Shannon continue to insist that Honduras ignore its own laws and reinstate Zelaya, under the San Jose Accord.
“First, I wish to express unending thanks for the good will that you are showing . . . but we must speak out about something: the truth. You do not know the whole truth and, at times it appears that you do not want to hear it. Why don’t we begin to investigate what happened before the 28th of June?
What happened was that Zelaya attempted to extend his own term limits, something specifically forbidden by the Honduran Constitution. Zelaya was also plundering the state treasury,
“Today we have the evidence. This is not just talk. Where Mr. Zelaya was feeding his horses with government money, where he paid the man who kept it with the State’s funds; twenty-seven thousand lempiras per month for the keeper and 20 thousand for the horses’ feed. Jewels purchased with government money, charged to the treasury of the Republic. But no one wants to see any of that. I would like you to investigate what has happened with the Treasury of Honduras in the past three months since we have been in charge.
“We were accused and sentenced in the 20 minutes that the OAS meeting lasted, where it was presumed we had staged a coup d’état. Unfortunately, in this country, some people read our constitution and say it’s a monstrosity; but that monstrosity has kept order, quiet and peace in this country for 29 years under a democratic regime in which nobody had attempted to breach the constitutional order in our country by trying to set up a Constitutional convention.”
Regarding next month’s upcoming election, which the US State Dept. has said they might not recognize,
“. . . . There will be elections on November 29, unless we are invaded, that is the only way to stop them. Not because of a personal whim, but because they were already scheduled. Primary elections were held and candidates chosen in 2008 and they have been campaigning. I ask myself: If Zelaya had no intentions to stay in power [beyond his term of office] why didn’t he fund the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which is in charge of running elections in our country? They are not carried out by the President or the National Congress. It is the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which was elected one and a half years ago. Why hadn’t he given it one single penny to begin organizing the programs on the corresponding dates, as required by law? A week after we took office we provided the Tribunal with the necessary funds.
“This was the only country in the world where the government was being conducted without a budget. For the last nine months we had no budget and the current Minister of Finances tells us that there are 5.6 billion lempiras that no one knows where they went or how they were spent because there are no supporting documents.”