Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

Cuban dissidents will head to Summit of the Americas

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

Cuban opposition leaders and activists Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Guillermo Fariñas, and Berta Soler will take part in civil-society events at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, according to the Miami-based Cuban Soul Foundation.

The foundation — which promotes independent Cuban artists and musicians — is hosting, together with the Human Rights Foundation in Cuba and the Panama campus of Florida State University, a conference titled The Road Ahead in the Fight for Human Rights on April 8.

Independent journalist Myriam Celaya and philologist Yusmila Reyna Ferrer, a member of Cuba’s Patriotic Union, UNPACU, will also take part with Soler and Saily Navarro, both representing the Ladies in White, in a panel discussion on women’s human-rights activism. Celaya, Reyna, and Soler participated last week in a similar conference at Florida International University.

Blogger Henry Constantin and UNPACU activist Amel Oliva will discuss with Morúa, leader of Arco Progresista, and Fariñas, representative ... Read More

The left must speak out about the horror in Venezuela

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
New Statesman

Venezuela is a mess. Inflation is running at 70 per cent or higher and in the capital Caracas citizens have to stand in queues for hours just to pick up the basics from increasingly empty shops. This comes on the back of a decade-long oil boom in which Venezuela earned over $800 billion in oil revenues. Accusing the government of profligacy somehow doesn’t cut it.

But Venezuela isn’t just a crumbling mess teetering on the brink of economic and social collapse. It also happens to be a country in which many western leftists have over the past decade invested their hopes for a better future.

The governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro certainly have achievements to their name. Between 1998 and 2012 there was a reduction in the poverty rate from 50 per cent to approximately 30 per cent. The closeness of the Venezuelan government’s ties to Cuba, and the ... Read More

Venezuelan leader’s popularity inches up to 25 percent – poll

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
Swiss Info

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity inched up to 25 percent in March, according to leading local pollster Datanalisis, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials.

The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling “Chavismo” movement.

Maduro has cranked up revolutionary rhetoric against so-called “imperialist” aggression to fire up supporters and unite his disparate coalition ahead of parliamentary elections, a strategy that seems to have triggered a modest popularity bounce.

“Maduro has a 25 percent popularity level,” Datanalisis said in a tweet on Tuesday, citing its president Luis Vicente Leon.

That’s up from the low 20s, though Leon suggested the difference was within the margin of error. He did not provide the poll’s margin of error or sample size.

... Read More

The Maduro Smokescreen

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
The London Economic

By Max Bluer

The sweeping presidential powers, the detention of political opponents, even the troop mobilisations are empty gestures. President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela’s main goal is now to distract his people, and the world, from his country’s problems.  

Highly dangerous. A power grab. A smokescreen. The response from internal opponents and the international community to the Venezuelan Congress’ decision to grant President Nicolás Maduro new decree powers has been overwhelmingly critical. The law, which in its preamble specifies its objective as ‘protecting national sovereignty from foreign interventions’, allows the executive to bypass Congress in areas of ‘freedom, equality, justice and international peace, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national self-determination’.

The vague wording of the new legislation – freedom, equality and independence are terms that can mean just about anything – has scared many both within and outside Venezuela. The fear is that Maduro will go beyond the law’s ... Read More

Venezuela: Lack of justice for protest abuses gives green light to more violence

| March 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Amnesty International

Venezuela’s failure to effectively investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of 43 people and the injury and torture of hundreds during protests in 2014, is effectively giving a green light to more abuses and violence, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

The faces of impunity: A year after the protests, victims still await justice examines the stories of those who died or were arbitrarily arrested and tortured in detention during and after the protests that rocked the country between February and July 2014. Amongst the dead and injured were protesters, passers-by and members of the security forces. Some are still behind bars pending trial.

“Every day that passes without addressing the catalogue of human rights abuses that took place during the protests is another day of heart-breaking injustice for the victims and their families. This must stop.”

During the protests 3,351 people were detained, ... Read More

Opinion: Obama’s policy toward Venezuela – The sanctions and the real threats

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

By Leopoldo Martínez Nucete

The burning issue of the moment in Venezuela is the set of sanctions announced by the government of the United States against seven senior officials from the President Nicolás Maduro administration who have been accused of human rights violations. This has given rise to a week of inflamed nationalist rhetoric, calls for military manoeuvres and screaming denunciations of supposed plans of invasion and other violations of sovereignty.

This week Maduro wrote an Open Letter to the People of the United States in the New York Times, in which he calls for action demanding: 1) The U.S. government immediately cease hostile actions against Venezuelan people and democracy; 2) President Obama abolish the Executive Order that declares Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security, as has been requested by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); and, 3) the U.S. Government retract its libelous and defamatory statements ... Read More

Communiqué from the Venezuelan Student Movement

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

Dear representatives of the Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR),

The Venezuelan Student Movement takes this opportunity to address the UNASUR and express our rejection to the resolutions issued on Saturday March 14 by this organization regarding the sanctions implemented by the United States against officials from the government of Nicolas Maduro, and the classification of our nation as a threat to the national security of the United States.

These biased resolutions make us question the assumption that UNASUR is a privileged mechanism for dialogue. In the resolutions the systematic violations of our rights are not recognized, which include repression, persecution, imprisonment and unfortunately the loss of 44 lives so far, adding to the latter the death of the student Kluiberth Roa, who was murdered by state security forces protected by Decree 8610. Isn’t this precisely the sort of political persecution that UNASUR should condemn? Isn’t the mission ... Read More

Rubio, others push more White House action on Venezuela

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Chris Adams

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan panel of the U.S. Senate applauded a recent move by the White House to sanction the Venezuelans cracking down on protesters in that country, but they said much more could be done.

Members of a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a Tuesday hearing that the action last week to apply sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials – including the heads of military intelligence and the police – was promising. Still, they urged more names be added to the sanctions list, and said the U.S. should do a better job explaining to Latin American countries why the move was necessary.

The executive order freezes the assets of officials implicated in the crack-down on protests last year that left more than 40 people dead on both sides and sparked the jailing of prominent opposition figures.

Led by Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as Democrats Barbara Boxer ... Read More

How Obama’s Cuba Deal Is Strengthening Its Military

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

In the hit 1992 movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s fictional Colonel Jessup famously declares: “I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill me.” The Cuban officers I met never gave me that impression. As the State Department’s former representative to negotiations with Cuba’s military, I can tell you that our discussions were typically convivial and constructive. And today, President Barack Obama’s initiative to normalize relations with Havana has presented the United States with a truly mind-boggling prospect: Our most reliable partner on that long-isolated island is probably going to be the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, Cuba’s military establishment.

And soon they’re going to be making a lot of money.

The Communist Party of Cuba may constitute the country’s political leadership, but it is seen increasingly as an anachronism by the population, and after Fidel Castro, 88, ... Read More

Obama’s Wake-Up Call to Venezuela’s Neighbors

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

The White House’s executive order on Monday authorizing sanctions on Venezuelan officials names only seven people. Its real target may be Venezuela’s neighbors, whose tacit acceptance of the Bolivarian Republic’s bad behavior undermines U.S. efforts to change it.

No one can accuse the U.S. of acting hastily. Even as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cracked down on anti-government protesters and opposition members last year, U.S. President Barack Obama let other Latin American nations take the lead in trying to ease tensions, with nugatory results. Only in July, as Congress considered sanctions legislation, did the State Department restrict travel to the U.S. by Venezuelan officials it deemed complicit in human-rights abuses. In February, it expanded that list to 56. Monday’s executive order comes three months after Congress passed a law calling for sanctions, and goes beyond it by also taking aim at those involved in corruption.

Predictably, Maduro has responded to escalating U.S. pressure by blaming it for ... Read More

Venezuela’s chickens come home to roost as falling oil prices expose socialist country’s economic weakness

| March 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Post-01


Standing at the tail end of a long lineup to buy a few kilograms of sugar, the 66-year-old pensioner shouted Venezuelans had once been slaves to Spain but were now slaves to the Venezuelans who governed them.

“Our rulers have been mugging us,” he said. “They hide food and medicine from us. Armed groups won’t let us be in the streets after 6 p.m. It is horrifying what we live through in this country.”

Mr. Hernandez was giving voice to what millions of Venezuelans think as they wait for hours to buy meagre amounts of staples such as toilet paper, corn flour and cooking oil. Runaway inflation has driven the price of other products beyond the means of many.

The grave economic problems that have confronted Russia and Iran since global oil prices were sliced in half over the past year have received a lot of international attention. Far less has ... Read More

The Left’s Mess in Venezuela

| March 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY KEVIN D. WILLIAMSONVenezuela had a good run of it for about five minutes there, at least in public-relations terms. When petroleum prices were booming, all it took was a few gallons of heating oil from Hugo Chávez to buy the extravagant praise of House members, with Representative Chaka Fattah (D., Philadelphia) issuing statements praising Venezuela’s state-run oil company “and the Venezuelan people for their benevolence.” Lest anybody feel creeped out by running political errands for a brutal and repressive caudillo, Joseph Kennedy — son of Senator Robert Kennedy — proclaimed that refusing the strongman’s patronage would be “a crime against humanity.” Kennedy was at the time the director of Citizens Energy, which had a contract to help distribute that Venezuelan heating oil — Boss Hugo was a brute, but he understood American politics.

Celebrities came to sit at his feet, with Sean Penn calling him a “champion” of the ... Read More

Amid deteriorating relations, Washington turns screws on Venezuela

| March 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


President Barack Obama on Monday slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials, including the heads of military intelligence and the police, and said the situation in the South American country posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The executive order freezes the assets and denies visas to the officials for their role in cracking down on last year’s protests, when clashes between demonstrators and police left more than 40 dead on both sides and sparked the jailing of prominent opposition figures.

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here,” the White House said in a statement, “and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.”

In a nationally televised address, President Nicolás Maduro called ... Read More

Obama sanctions 7 government officials in Venezuela

| March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
US News & World Report

By David Jackson and Gregory Korte

WASHINGTON — President Obama slapped economic sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials Monday, accusing them of human rights violations and declaring their government a threat to U.S. national security.

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “And we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.”

The administration is “deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents,” Earnest said, and the nation’s economic problems “cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent.”

The sanctions target seven specific Venezuelan government officials who are involved in “violence against anti-government protesters,” or the “arrest or prosecution of individuals for their legitimate exercise of free speech,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The United States is not seeking to punish the people ... Read More

Venezuela’s crackdown

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »

Venezuela’s “Bolivarian” regime is lurching from authoritarianism to dictatorship. On February 19th it arrested the elected mayor of metropolitan Caracas, Antonio Ledezma. Then it moved to expel Julio Borges, a moderate opposition leader, from the National Assembly—a fate already suffered by his colleague, María Corina Machado, ejected last year. Leopoldo López, another opposition leader, has been in jail for a year and is now on trial. Almost half the opposition’s mayors now face legal action. The regime’s favourite charge to level at hostile politicians is plotting to overthrow the government, often in conspiracy with the United States. But it is the president, Nicolás Maduro, who is staging a coup against the last vestiges of democracy. Venezuelans call it an autogolpe, or “self-coup”.

Hugo Chávez, who created and presided over the Bolivarian state-socialist system until his death in 2013, was repeatedly elected by Venezuelans, thanks to windfall oil revenues ... Read More

Meltdown in Venezuela

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

When Venezuelan intelligence agents carted off Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma to jail last week, they fired shots into the air to terrorize a gathering crowd. It was nothing unusual for the Venezuelan police state, which has studied under Cuba’s dictatorship. But it did underscore the magnitude of the economic and political crisis now gripping a country with one of the largest oil reserves in the world.

Mr. Ledezma is accused of plotting to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro with U.S. help. The government has provided no evidence. The mayor’s real offense is signing a letter this month calling Mr. Maduro’s government “terminal” and proposing a transition back to democracy.

Opposition leaders Leopoldo López, jailed a year ago, and Maria Corina Machado, who faces charges of plotting to kill Mr. Maduro, also signed the letter. On Tuesday the Maduro-controlled national assembly stripped opposition congressman Julio Borges of his seat and thus his legal ... Read More

Reality sinks in for many Cubans on eve of talks with US

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
UT San Diego


HAVANA (AP) — The jubilation that greeted the announcement of U.S.-Cuban detente two months ago has faded to resignation for many Cubans who are realizing they’re at the start of a long process unlikely to ease their daily struggles anytime soon.

Dreams of U.S. products flooding Havana stores and easy visits to family members in Florida have dissipated, in part because of a coordinated campaign by Cuban state media and officials to lower expectations and remind people that the main planks of the half-century-old U.S. trade embargo remain in place.

As Cuban officials head to Washington for a second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations Friday, many working-class islanders say they no longer expect immediate changes in their lives regardless of what emerges from the negotiations.

“The great expectations that surged with the news ... Read More

Disaster in Venezuela

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela bears a marked resemblance to the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, right down to the mustache. With a collapsing economy that has soured his countrymen on his ruinous economic policies, Mr. Maduro is beginning to resemble Saddam in a more ominous way as well.

He is systematically jailing more and more of his opponents on trumped-up charges of plotting an “endless coup” against his government. Such attempts, he says, tipping his hat to the villain in the familiar Latin American imagination, are “supported and promoted from the north.” Intelligence agents last week burst into the office of Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of the capital Caracas and a leading opposition figure, and arrested him on vague “conspiracy” charges.

The mayor, 59, was taken to the Ramo Verde military jail where another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, marked a year of incarceration on Feb. 18. The charges of arson, terrorism and homicide against Mr. ... Read More

Kerry blasts Venezuela’s ‘egregious behavior’

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
From AFP

Washington (AFP) – US Secretary of State John Kerry blasted the Venezuelan government’s “egregious behavior” and promised the speedy implementation of recent sanctions against the crisis-hit country.

peaking at a US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Kerry said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime had made a series of “wrong choices” in its handling of anti-government protests, as well as its clampdown on opposition leaders over claims of a US-backed coup plot.

“Venezuela keeps moving in the wrong direction and making the wrong choices,” Kerry said. “The answer is the sanctions are being implemented right now as fast as possible.”

Washington in December passed a law allowing sanctions against senior Venezuelan officials accused of violating the rights of protesters during anti-government demonstrations at the start of 2014.

Kerry said several US government agencies had “no disagreement whatsoever on the egregious behavior, the repression of people, the ... Read More

Shooting of Student Protester in Venezuela Ratchets Up Tension

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


SAN CRISTÓBAL, Venezuela—Mourning relatives buried a 14-year-old boy killed by police as scattered protests broke out across the country over what citizens see as the state’s growing crackdown on dissent.

The student, Kluibert Roa, was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during an antigovernment demonstration on Tuesday, authorities said. A policeman was arrested in connection with the killing. Officials blamed the death on overzealous protesters, while demonstrators told reporters the boy was shot at point-blank range.

The teenager’s death reverberated throughout this tumultuous, oil-rich country, which has been hit by soaring inflation, a scarcity of basic goods, and what people say are increasingly repressive measures by the government of socialist President Nicolás Maduro.

The death ratcheted up tension in this western Venezuelan city, which was the epicenter of demonstrations last year that shook the country, spreading nationwide and leaving at least 43 people dead. Schools and universities ... Read More

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