Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

Cuba should not be rewarded for denying freedom to its people

| October 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By the Editorial Board

THE OTHER day, Fidel Castro wrote an opinion column for Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma, as he has done periodically from retirement. He lavished praise on an editorial in the New York Times that called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. But Mr. Castro had one complaint: The Times mentioned the harassment of dissidents and the still-unexplained death of a leading exponent of democracy, Oswaldo Payá, and a younger activist, Harold Cepero, in a car wreck two years ago.

The assertion that Cuba’s authoritarian government had yet to explain the deaths was “slanderous and [a] cheap accusation,” Mr. Castro sputtered.

So why has Cuba done nothing to dispel the fog of suspicion that still lingers over the deaths? If the charge is slanderous, then it is long past time for Mr. Castro to order a thorough investigation of what happened on an isolated Cuban road ... Read More

UN Human Rights Chief Calls on Venezuela to Free Lopez & Protestors

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

GENEVA — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed serious concern on Monday at the continued detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, as well as more than 69 other people who were arrested in the context of public protests that took place across Venezuela over several months starting in February this year.

“The prolonged and arbitrary detention of political opponents and protestors in Venezuela is causing more and more concern internationally,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “It is only exacerbating the tensions in the country.”

According to information received by the UN Human Rights Office, over 3,300 people, including minors, were detained for brief periods between February and June, and more than 150 cases of ill-treatment, many of them torture, were reported. At least 43 people were killed during the protests, including one public prosecutor and nine members of the security forces. Journalists and human rights defenders ... Read More

Venezuela’s Election to UN Security Council Can’t Hide Its Weakness

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Commentary

By Ben Cohen

The good news is that Turkey didn’t manage to get itself elected to the UN Security Council. The bad news is that Venezuela did, as was expected. So come January, the chavista regime will have an unprecedented say in world affairs for a two-year term as one of the Security Council’s non-permanent members.

This marks the fifth time in the UN’s brief history that Venezuela will serve on the Council. The last occasion was in 1992-93, when its representative was Ambassador Diego Arria, who distinguished himself by highlighting the genocide then raging in Bosnia, and by speaking out on behalf of human rights more generally. Two decades later, the situation has flipped entirely–the current crop of genocidaires, rogue states, and terrorists, particularly in the Middle East, will discover to their satisfaction that there are few friends more loyal than Venezuela’s present rulers.

As Arria himself pointed out in a recent ... Read More

Venezuela Joins U.N. Security Council for Two-Year Term

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Ezequiel Minya

CARACAS—The United Nations on Thursday voted Venezuela on to its Security Council, granting the South American country a long-coveted trophy of international standing and placing a persistent thorn in the side of the U.S. on the U.N.’s most influential committee.

“This is a moment of great pride for all of Venezuela,” said President Nicolás Maduro from the presidential palace in Caracas. “The world has given us support. We should feel happiness in our hearts that we are a country that is admired and loved.”

Not everybody was celebrating the victory. Though the Obama administration resisted calls from Venezuela’s critics to mount a campaign to derail its entry into the Security Council, U.S. officials on Thursday criticized Venezuela’s record at the U.N.

“Unfortunately, Venezuela’s conduct at the U.N. has run counter to the spirit of the U.N. Charter and its violations of ... Read More

5 Dead in Venezuela After Tense Police Standoff

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By FABIOLA SANCHEZ and JORGE RUEDA

President Nicolas Maduro called Wednesday for an investigation into a confusing shootout with police that left a well-connected government supporter and four others dead.

Police before dawn Tuesday raided a high-rise building occupied by presumed members of armed pro-government groups known as “collectives,” leading to a tense, eight-hour standoff that created panic and blocked traffic across several downtown blocks.

Among those killed was former policeman Jose Odreman, the outspoken leader of the 5th of March collective, one of a myriad of sometimes armed groups that provide social services and rally support for the government in poor neighborhoods.

Barely 90 minutes before he was killed, during a brief recess in shooting, Odreman spoke to Venezuelan media and blamed Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres for the bloodshed and held him personally accountable for any attempt on his life.

Fighting resumed when three police officers were taken hostage by individuals holed up ... Read More

Menendez: Cuba attendance undermines Summit of Americas

| October 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

By Ramsey Cox

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) blasted Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela for saying he’ll invite Cuba to the 2015 Summit of the Americas.

Menendez wrote a letter to Varela on Wednesday to express his “dismay” over Varela’s intent to invite Cuba to the summit in April.

“Cuba’s participation would undermine the spirit and authority of the Summit of the Americas,” Menendez wrote. “The Government of Cuba remains this hemisphere’s must enduring dictatorship, having deprived the people of Cuba of democratic rule for more than a half century.

“The Government of Cuba fails to meet even the most minimal standard of democratic governance required for its participation at the Summit of the Americas.”

Menendez said the Cuban government denies its citizens “their most fundamental political and human rights” by criminalizing free expression and dissent. He said one purpose of the summit is to reaffirm the principles in the Charter of the United Nations, which ... Read More

U.S. must raise stakes to get hostage Alan Gross returned by Cuba

| October 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Frank Calzon

Confronted with the barbaric beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the terrorists of the Islamic State, President Obama has rightly changed course and announced a new strategy.

After six lackluster and bewildering years, the president would do well to reappraise his strategy for dealing with Cuba and North Korea, as well. Cuba is still holding hostage a USAID contractor. Alan Gross is ill and has lost 100 pounds in harsh Cuban prisons.

Havana wants “to exchange” Gross for release of Cuban spies in U.S. prisons who have been convicted of “conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, destruction of aircraft, and murder.” They not only infiltrated Florida military bases, but also set up the killing of four Miami men, members of Brothers to the Rescue, who were flying unarmed civilian aircraft over the Florida Straits to spot fleeing Cubans aboard rafts in need of help.

Raúl Castro, now president of ... Read More

Almagro: Cuba should attend summit

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Andres Oppenheimer

Uruguay, Peru and Guatemala have nominated candidates to replace Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the 34-country Organization of American States. In the first of a three-part occasional series leading up to January’s vote, columnist Andres Oppenheimer interviews the candidates. Today, he asked Foreign Minister Luis Almagro of Uruguay five questions about his plans for the OAS and attacks from critics. Excerpts:

Which specific changes would you make at the OAS if elected Secretary General?

The OAS must regain credibility and relevance, and become a political convergence mechanism that complements and articulates other (regional) integration processes. In that context, it’s key that the strengthening of democracy and its institutions goes hand-in-hand with an unrestricted defense of human rights and inter-American (human rights) mechanisms, and that their independence be respected by all….

At the same time, it would have to address issues of this century, such as the lack of security among ... Read More

Under pressure at home, Venezuela’s Maduro calls for a more ‘democratic’ U.N.

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Jim Wyss

BOGOTA- Addressing the United Nations General Assembly for the first time since taking office 17 months ago, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said it was time to make good on the dreams of his late boss Hugo Chávez and shake up the staid body.

Echoing other regional leaders, Maduro, 51, said the United Nations had been co-opted by imperialist powers and needed a dose of democracy.

“The U.N. charter is one of the most beautiful poems you can read,” he said. “But it’s turned into a document that has been thrown aside and is trampled permanently.”

“The countries of the world are clamoring for their voice to be heard,” he said, noting that the 15-member Security Council needs to be more representative.

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Maduro also used his speech to denounce the U.S. blockade of Cuba, one of Venezuela’s staunchest allies, and its continued attacks on Syria and Iraq. While Maduro ... Read More

A year after skipping the UN,Venezuela seeks coveted prize

| September 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Jim Wyss

BOGOTA- During the opening of last year’s U.N. General Assembly, Venezuela provided a dose of chaos and drama when President Nicolás Maduro canceled his inaugural address at the last minute and flew home, citing shadowy threats against his safety on the streets of New York.

On Tuesday, those fears seem to have vanished as the South American leader glad-handed global leaders and faced the press on the sidewalks of Manhattan.

Maduro may have reason to feel confident as he prepares to address the organization Wednesday night: Venezuela seems poised to win a seat on the U.N. Security Council for the first time since 1993.

The last time it vied for a spot, in 2006, under late President Hugo Chávez, the U.S. and others blocked the move. This time around, few seem prepared to get in Venezuela’s way. Despite questions about its human rights record and continuing crackdown on protesters, the country ... Read More

Colombia: Venezuela Must Be ‘Constructive’ at UN

| September 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By Alexandra Olson

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday that he expects Venezuela to win a seat on the U.N. Security Council and hopes the country will play a “constructive” role on the organization’s most powerful body.

Venezuela’s candidacy won the unanimous endorsement of Latin American and Caribbean countries during a closed-door meeting in New York on July 23. That makes it likely it will muster the two-thirds majority needed to secure the seat representing the region in a secret ballot of 193 member nations at the U.N. General Assembly next month.

The seat would give a high-profile platform for the fiery, anti-U.S. rhetoric of the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro, the political heir of the late Hugo Chavez. Venezuela is almost certain to ally itself with Russia, and against the U.S., on big issues such as Syria and Ukraine.

“I hope they (Venezuela) can maintain a constructive position,” Santos said in ... Read More

Venezuela’s Crackdown on Opposition

| September 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By the Editorial Board

The Venezuelan government early this year responded to a wave of street protests by jailing opposition leaders, deploying the army against unarmed protesters and tightening control of the media. The deplorable tactics have largely driven an inspiring opposition movement underground, depriving Venezuelans of the right to challenge a leader who has put a once-prosperous nation on a perilous track.

The imprisonment and trial of an opposition leader, Leopoldo López, show how far President Nicolás Maduro is willing to go to stave off legitimate grievances in a country he and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, mismanaged.Mr. López, a 43-year-old Harvard-educated politician, has been jailed since Feb. 18, when the authorities accused him of instigating violent demonstrations. Some 1,700 demonstrators are awaiting trial and more than 70 remain jailed.

Mr. López’s trial, which began in July, is a travesty. The indictment bizarrely ... Read More

AP Interview: Brazil’s Silva Wants Better US Ties

| September 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By the Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — Marina Silva, a front-running presidential candidate who grew up in the Amazon jungle and could become the first black to lead Brazil’s government, said Wednesday that if elected she’ll improve ties with the U.S. and strongly push for human rights in nations like Cuba.

She spoke exclusively to The Associated Press in her first interview with a foreign media outlet since being thrust into Brazil’s presidential campaign after her Socialist Party’s original candidate died in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

Silva, a former Amazon activist and environment minister who pushed policies that helped Brazil slash the rate at which it was destroying the jungle, has found herself in a dead-heat presidential race with President Dilma Rousseff. The incumbent represents the Workers Party, which Silva herself helped found three ... Read More

Venezuela’s UN Security Council Bid Gains Backing

| September 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By Joshua Goodman

Venezuela’s socialist government has quietly secured the backing of Latin America and the Caribbean to obtain a diplomatic trophy that long eluded the late Hugo Chavez: a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The unanimous endorsement of Venezuela’s candidacy to represent the region on the Security Council came at a closed-door meeting July 23 in New York, said Amin Cruz, a diplomat at the U.N. from the Dominican Republic, which presided at the meeting.

When Chavez last tried for a seat in 2006, the United States succeeded in torpedoing his campaign. This year, Washington has been mum.

While Venezuela must still muster a two-thirds majority in a secret ballot of 193 member nations at the U.N. General Assembly next month, the lack so far of a rival candidate from the region means the chances of its candidacy being derailed are slim, analysts say.

If it does win a seat, world leaders ... Read More

Colombia Faces Backlash For Turning Over Venezuelan Activists

| September 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By SARA SCHAEFER MUÑOZ and EZEQUIEL MINAYA

CARACAS, Venezuela—The expulsion by Colombia of two Venezuelan activists–both of whom were being detained here–has fueled a backlash against Colombia’s government for handing them over to President Nicolás Maduro’s administration.

More than 3,000 young people who participated earlier this year in protests against Mr. Maduro’s government here were jailed, leading to criticism from human rights groups about abuses even after most were released. At least 43 people—the majority of them antigovernment demonstrators—were killed in the protests, in which university students rose up to protest Venezuela’s economic troubles and rampant crime.

Lorent Enrique Gomez Saleh, 26, who leads the Operation Liberation anti-Maduro group, and Gabriel Valles, 27, a member of the organization, were deported from Colombia last week for visa infractions and violating regulations prohibiting foreigners from “participating in activities that threaten public order or national security,” said a Colombian Foreign Ministry statement. Colombian officials went on to say that ... Read More

Rep. Salmon Statement on the Imposition of New Visa Restrictions against Venezuelan Human Rights Violators

| July 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
US House of Representatives   Washington, D.C.— Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) today released the following statement upon the United States’ imposition of visa restrictions against violators of human rights in Venezuela:   “I was pleased to learn that, after months of stalling, the Obama Administration has finally decided to react to the Venezuelan government’s violent repression against protestors.  Today’s announcement of visa denials and prohibitions against Venezuelan officials complicit in the crackdown of legitimate protesters is long overdue, but merely a first step in the right direction.   “Venezuelan pressure for the release of General Carvajal, a known FARC narcotics trafficking collaborator, should be enough to show the Administration that sitting by idly while authoritarian dictators undermine democratic values and violate human rights in our hemisphere is no substitute for deliberate policy that reflects the interests of the United States.  The unraveling of U.S. leadership around the world is not just embarrassing, it threatens peace and stability.”   Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) ... Read More

Is Mexico Doing Enough to Secure Its Southern Border?

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
FUSION

BY TED HESSON

Sneaking north into Mexico wasn’t easy, according to Brandon, who was 14 years old when he left his hometown in Guatemala last April to rejoin his parents in the United States.

A smuggler hired to get Brandon across the border led him on a five-hour hike across rough terrain and through sweltering heat to avoid Mexican border checkpoints.

“I suffered a lot,” Brandon told Fusion during a recent interview in Virginia. “It was really hot. There were a lot of thorns and my shoes broke. I got blisters on my feet.”

The month-long trip didn’t get any easier after that. The coyote warned Brandon’s group that capture by the Mexican federal police meant deportation or bribery. “He said that if they found us, they would arrest everyone.”

Still, Mexican immigration enforcement was no comparison to what he faced when he entered the U.S. After crossing the Rio Grande border into South Texas, Brandon was ... Read More

Cuba cracks down, arrests 100 women dissidents

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
msn

Cuban authorities arrested an unusually large group of about 100 dissident marchers Sunday, breaking up a march by the Ladies in White opposition activists.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!,” the women offered no resistance as they were put on buses by dozens of police and plainclothes agents of the only communist-ruled country in the Americas.

A group of about 100 government supporters, who arrived along with the authorities at the scene in Havana’s Miramar district, angrily shouted “Viva Fidel, Viva Raul” as the women were whisked away.

The women’s group, formed in 2003 by wives and relatives of political prisoners, marches with the government’s permission every Sunday in the Cuban capital after hearing mass at Santa Rita parish church.

Since theirs is the only group that has government permission for a regular protest, arrests are few and infrequent.

But on Sunday, dozens of police moved in and surrounded the large crowd of marchers two blocks from ... Read More

Venezuela: Leopoldo Lopez must stand trial, judge rules

| June 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

A Venezuelan judge has ordered opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to stand trial on charges of instigating violence at an anti-government protest in February.

Mr Lopez of the Popular Will party has been in jail since he handed himself in to the authorities on 18 February.

The charges relate to demonstrations on 12 February, during which three people were killed.

If found guilty, Mr Lopez could face up to 10 years in jail.

Marathon session

Judge Adriana Lopez made the decision to send Mr Lopez for trial shortly after 03:00 (07:30 GMT) after a marathon session which had begun on Monday.

She said Mr Lopez would face charges of damaging property, arson and instigating violence.

Analysts had expected the decision but said they were surprised at the length of time it took the judge to reach it.

Supporters of Mr Lopez have always maintained that his detention and the charges against him are purely political.

Following the ruling, his ... Read More

Communique from the Venezuelan Student Movement and the Front for Venezuelan Mothers

| May 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Frente de madres Venezolanas

Caracas, May 27, 2014.

Given recent events, the Student Movement and the Mothers of Venezuela feel the need to turn to the foreign ministers of UNASUR meeting in Ecuador.

Our position has been clear: complicit officials in violations of the fundamental rights of the Venezuelan people should know that their abusive and repressive policies are widely rejected by Venezuela and the world.

The initiative of several members of the Congress of the United States is directed to punish officials involved in these inhuman acts, which have been carried out in recent months. Clearly the purpose and spirit of the law is not to punish Venezuela, but to punish the officials who have violated human rights and who have engaged in corruption. The fear of the Venezuelan government has no substance. The law is aimed at officials directly involved, not institutions. Their duty is to implement all of the provisions within our Constitution, but ... Read More

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