Hugo Chavez

On September 18, we released a report in Caracas that shows how President Hugo Chávez has undermined human rights guarantees in Venezuela. That night, we returned to our hotel and found around twenty Venezuelan security agents, some armed and in military uniform, awaiting us outside our rooms. They were accompanied by a man who announced–with no apparent sense of irony–that he was a government “human rights” official and that we were being expelled from the country.
. . .
In the more than twenty years that Human Rights Watch has worked in Latin America, no government has ever expelled our representatives for our work, not even the right-wing dictatorships guilty of far more egregious abuses than those committed by Chávez. Presumably they knew better. After all, Chávez’s decision to expel us merely served to confirm the central message of our report and ensure that it received extensive coverage around the globe.

Why did Chávez do it? One Brazilian on the plane on which we were forced to leave Venezuela offered a view that is increasingly widespread throughout Latin America: “Chávez is crazy.” But the human rights defenders we work with in Venezuela have drawn a far more sobering conclusion. Chávez, in their view, was sending a deliberate message to his fellow countrymen: he will not allow human rights guarantees to get in his way, no matter what the rest of the world may think.

If their interpretation is right, it does not bode well for the future of Venezuelan democracy.

Hugo Chavez Versus Human Rights,” by Jose Miguel Vivanco, Daniel Wilkinson, The New York Review of Books, November 6, 2008
Of course, the falling price of oil won’t help Chavez, either.

Posted in: Caught Our Eye

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