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All the news, articles about Venezuela published in English

Against asphyxia

El Nacional, Venezuela.

By Alberto Barrera Tyszka

‘No petty bourgeois asshole is going to come and tell the majority of Venezuelan youngsters which one is the route the country should follow! The homeland’s road was signalled by Hugo Chavez on February 4th!’ This is what Venezuelan minister Victor Clark shouted in Yaracuy with an inflamed attitude and very few voice inflexions, as if he had studied oratory in Havana, a few days before the 12th of February. In his speech, he denounced terrorist acts and accused the students of being ‘coup d’état leaders’, whom, by the way, have won almost all student elections in the country. But the best of it was its reasoning: History is already written. We gave a coup d’état first. F*** you!

The perverse procedure, by which the victims of aggression become the ones to blame for that aggression, goes beyond the criminalization of protests. It is related to a previous mechanism, it is related to the official promotion of a concept: for the Power, the opposition is not the people. Someone can only be part of the people from the blindness loyalty to the government. The rest is illegitimate; it is treated as a transgression against citizenship: being against the government is to be banned of identity. Therefore, any protest is doomed. Because the subject of the protest is someone who is no longer home.

But of course, to this one must add the folly of a call under a name that only produces confusion and illusions: ‘The end’. Leopoldo Lopez, with skill and by taking advantage of different social ills, imposed his agenda on the rest of the opposition. He built an effective staging and certainly did a radical call that intended to paralyze the country.  None of that, however, is so far a coup d’état. It may be a political mistake, but not a crime. When Chavez was released from prison in 1994, he repeatedly called for demonstrations demanding the immediate resignation of President Caldera. And it was not an attempted coup. He was playing politics.

Crime is somewhere else. But the government does not want to talk about it. The Ombudsman keeps silence. Someone denounces conspiracies without evidence. The government always will show slogans rather than evidence. It is amazing how the government has been quick to shield themselves behind the banner of Internet promiscuity. And it’s true: there are false images; there are images of another time, another place … But not all images. Rather, they are the less. And that cannot be used to sneak the rest of the reality. The Power clings to a minimum distortion to discredit complaints and real testimonies of victims and to hide what happens and also to justify their brutal assault. Luisa Ortega Díaz dismissing official violence by saying that this is a group of Venezuelans ‘who do not love the nation’, it is not only scary, it is criminal. It legitimizes repression. It even gives it a sentimental value.

The theory of the coup, put forward by the government to almost any action proposed by any opponent is very useful: they blame the protesters, blessing their punishment. But that action leaves dead, wounded, unforgettable scenes of horror … consequences that cannot be erased. Blood stains are not washed with rhetoric.

The origin of the violence is also in a State without control, opaque, which insists on imposing its schemes.  A pursuing State, anxious, determined to invade and occupy all spaces. Because not recognizing the right of the other and cornering them, is a form of violence. The creation of parallel powers is violence. Outwitting the results of the referendum in 2007 and implementing what was rejected by the people is violence. Violence is the media blackout and denial of paper for the press. The Minister of Defence stating that she is a chavista is a form of violence … The list could be endless. No conspiracy but defence of life. While asphyxia is a government plan, there’s a bit of country struggling to breathe.

Source: El Nacional

http://www.el-nacional.com/autores/alberto_barrera_tyszka/

Translated by #InfoVenezuela

Is democracy at risk in Venezuela?

By Ignacio Ramonet

In recent months there have been in Venezuela four decisive elections: two presidential ones, and two others for governors and municipal authorities. All of them won by the Bolivarian revolution block. None of these results has been disputed by international missions for electoral observation. The latest vote came just two months ago… and it concluded by a net victory -11.5 percent margin- for chavistas. Since Hugo Chavez became president in 1999, all polls have shown that, sociologically, support for the Bolivarian revolution is majority.

In Latin America, Chavez was the first progressive leader -since Salvador Allende- who opted for democratic means to arrive into power. Chavism can not be understood if it is not measured by its deeply democratic character.

Chavez ‘s bid yesterday, today Nicolas Maduro’s, is for “democratic socialism”. Not only an electoral democracy. Also economic, social, cultural… In 15 years Chavism gave to millions of -whom for being poor did not have identity documents- citizenship status and allowed them to vote. Over 42 percent of the state¡s budget was devoted to social spending. Took 5 million people out of poverty. Reduced infant mortality. Eradicated illiteracy. Multiplied by five the number of teachers in public schools (from 65,000 to 350,000). Created 11 new universities. Granted pensions to all workers (even informal ones)… That explains the popular support Chavez always had, as well recent electoral victories by Nicolas Maduro.

Then, why the demonstrations? Let’s not forget that the chavista Venezuela -for having the main oil reserves on the planet- has been (and will be) subject of destabilization attempts and systematically hostile media campaigns.

Despite being united under the leadership of Henrique Capriles, the opposition lost four consecutive elections. In view of this failure, his most right-wing faction, linked to the U.S. and led by former coup leader Leopoldo López, is betting now on a slow coup d’etat. And it’s applying the techniques from Gene Sharp’s manual.

In the first phase: 1) create dissatisfaction by massive hoarding staples; 2) make people believe in the incompetence of the government; 3) encourage expressions of dissatisfaction, and 4) intensify harassment by the media.

Since February 12 February, the extremists entered the second phase, insurrection itself: 1) use the discontent of a social group (a minority of students) to provoke violent protests, and arrests; 2) organize demonstrations of solidarity with the detainees; 3) introduce gunmen among the protesters with the mission of creating victims from both sides (a ballistic expertise determined that the shots that killed in Caracas, on February 12, the student Bassil Alejandro Dacosta and chavista Juan Montoya were made with the same pistol, a Glock 9 mm); 4) increase protests and the level of violence; 5) intensify the media onslaught, supported by social networks, against “repression” from the government; 6) get major humanitarian organizations to condemn the government’s “excessive use of violence”; 7) get ally governments to make warnings to local authorities…

We are at this stage.

Is then democracy at risk in Venezuela? Yes, threatened, once again, by the usual coup d’etat mentality.

* Director of Le Monde Diplomatique in Spanish. Recently published Hugo Chavez. My first life.

Original source: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/02/23/opinion/022a1mun

Translation by #InfoVnzla

Turmoil in Venezuela is met with silence in Latin America

by JOSE DE CORDOBA

MEXICO CITY – From Mexico to Brazil, most Latin American governments have remained impassive while the Venezuelan government violently represses the growing protests, arresting opposition leaders and censoring most media in the country.

The ideological affinity with the leftist government of Venezuela and economic interests, including the oil generosity of the country, have complicated the response, or lack thereof, in the region. “The silence has been deafening,” said Michael Shifter, president of the research center Inter-American Dialogue, based in Washington.

The lack of condemnation gives Maduro a great deal of political maneuvering leeway to increase the pressure against opponents, according to former Foreign Minister of Mexico Jorge Castañeda. “No Latin American government will lift a finger,” he said.

In the face of this vacuum, a group of former senior officials from different countries of the Americas circulated a statement on Friday that condemns the repression of demonstrations in Venezuela and what they described as arbitrary arrests of students and political leaders.

The 17 leaders who signed the statement, including former president of Colombia Andres Pastrana, former Peruvian leader Alejandro Toledo and former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, urged the Venezuelan government to guarantee safe conditions for political demonstrations and to release all detainees, among other requests.

Enrique Krauze, a prominent historian from Mexico, said that one reason that explains the lukewarm response of Latin American governments is the lingering romance of the region with the leftist revolution, with its variants in Cuba and Venezuela, as well as its persistent anti-Americanism.” A large portion of Latin America has never criticized the Cuban revolution and Castro’s regime, although the world understood the lessons from the Soviet regime,” Krauze pointed out.

Caracas has received open support from allies such as Argentina, Bolivia and Cuba, which echo Venezuela’s stance saying protesters are part of a conspiracy that seeks to overthrow the government. Venezuela blames the United States for the alleged conspiracy, which is denied by the U.S..

Luis D’ Elia, key political collaborator of Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner,

attacked Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was arrested this week, posting a tweet that read “Maduro should shoot Lopez, CIA agent.”

The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, has not pronounced herself, while her Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a statement issued by CELAC, a regional organization, expressing solidarity with Venezuela and calling for a dialogue between the political forces of the country.

On Thursday, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Defense of the Brazilian Senate issued a statement rejecting “all forms of violence and intolerance that seek to undermine democracy and its institutions.” This statement seems to support the position of the Venezuelan government saying protesters are part of a conspiracy to overthrow the government of Maduro.

“We must strongly condemn any attempt to substitute the legitimacy of the polls with undemocratic violence,” said Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy, a former boxer, who proposed the voting.

Castañeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico, maintains that in the case of Brazil, economic considerations predominate. Brazilian companies have exported hundreds of millions of dollars of frozen chicken to Venezuela, while large Brazilian construction companies have projects throughout Caracas.

The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the country supports reconciliation and national dialogue, and trusts the maturity of democratic institutions in Venezuela.

Analysts say Mexico, where PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) recently returned to power, seems to be reversing to its traditional non-interventionist foreign policy.

In the case of Colombia, the government is in the process of negotiating a peace treaty in Havana with communist guerrillas that would put an end to the half-century civil war. Western diplomats say that Colombia seems to need the support of Venezuela and Cuba to successfully conclude negotiations. This support could be in danger if Colombia adopts a strong stance on the Venezuelan crisis, diplomats say.

Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli has been a notable exception. Martinelli said he deplored the violence in Venezuela and called for the ambassador of Panama in the country to return home for consultations. Maduro responded by qualifying Martinelli as an interventionist.

In Chile, left-wing politicians who are part of the new government and even the main student organization, denounced Venezuelan student protests and criticized outgoing president Sebastian Piñera’s urge to all parties in the Venezuelan conflict to respect human rights and the rule of law.

“Piñera ‘s statements were hasty and regrettable,” said Daniel Nuñez, an influential lawmaker from the Communist Party which is part of the ruling coalition elected last month under the leadership of President-elect Michelle Bachelet, who has remained silent regarding the current Venezuelan crisis.

Even Chilean students, who in the past have staged frequent protests on the streets of Santiago, which often turned violent, expressed no sympathy for their Venezuelan peers.

“We do not feel represented by the actions of Venezuelan student sectors that have sided with the defense of the old order, as opposed to the path defined by the people,” reads a statement issued by the powerful Federation of Students of the University of Chile known as FECh.

Smaller countries in the Caribbean and Central America, which depend on Venezuelan oil subsidies, have also remain silent.

“Venezuela is a very influential country due to its oil,” said Raul Benitez, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM ). “Many countries fear Venezuela will cut off the oil.”

But if violence intensifies, some analysts say that Latin America will end up intervening. “Even Latin America’s center-left will have to stand up and recognize that what is happening is intolerable,” said Eric Farnsworth, director of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas study center .

Martin Arostegui, in Chile, and Paulo Trevisani, in Brasilia, contributed to this article.

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Original source: La agitación en Venezuela es recibida con silencio en América Latina (The Wall Street Journal)

Translation by #InfoVnzla

Julio Cesar ‘Coco’ Jimenez: Most chavistas reject repression

The political activist insists demonstrations must be pacific, “in front of the headquarters of the institutions, with clear demands”.

JOLGUER RODRÍGUEZ COSTA

FEBRUARY 23, 2014 – 12:01 AM, CARACAS.

—At 36 years of age, what is your role at this crossroads?

—As political activist, with a Higher National Diploma in chemistry, unemployed, who lives in La Pastora (Nortwest of Caracas) and suffers from poverty and insecurity.

—Did you expect this massacre?

—Yes. On February 11 I did a video crying. I knew those fascist ‘collectives’ (pro-government civilian armies) would act out of control from the government. I thought the focus was going to be only in Caracas.

—What outrages you the most?

—That mister Nicolás Maduro shows images of student leaders demonstrating pacifically and calls them criminals, while his armed people kill them on the streets.

—What is fascism?

—The disproportionate use of power by a corporative State in order to utilize the population for partisan purposes.

—The government’s leitmotiv is that the adversary is fascist…

—They’ve been doing that as a reflex action for 15 years, mostly now that the popular base does not support the government anymore.

—Where are infiltrators from?

—In principle, from State security forces.

—Are there any in the opposition?

—That too!

—The government claims the bullet that killed Genesis Carmona came from the demonstrators…

—If the government says so… What I know I learned via Twitter.

—Is the tweet from Ameliach to Cabello reliable?

—Ameliach has a political responsibility, but there also other proceedings that escape from governmental action.

—Any benefit of the doubt to the government?

—Only Colombian paramilitary. They must apprehend them and send them to their country.

—What else makes you cry?

—All the threats being made to me, my family and friends.

—A reference for the students?

—Noel Rodríguez.

—Under the same cause as in the times of Caldera I?

—Yes, yes, I come from Bandera Roja (a communist party).

—Which of the two flags would you keep?

—None.

—Have you heard a Cuban accent within the FANB (Venezuelan armed forces)?

—I haven’t had the chance because I do not take part in ‘guarimbas’ (roadblocks).

—Are those inconvenient?

—Yes, and it’s a thing of young guys. Those in Miami who did it highly damaged the youth by spreading those messages that distort the struggle and push away a pacific solution. A large majority of the opposition does not support roadblocks and most chavistas reject repression.

—How should the protest be?

—Pacific, in front of the headquarters of the institutions, with clear demands.

—What did you feel when you saw the photograph of a wounded Cuban in a Venezuelan military uniform?

—Rage!… That’s a reality that we all must regret.

—And what about face to face with the pro-government student in the CNN debate?

—The government sent some good young guys with no political knowledge in order to wash its hands.

—Was Patricial Janiot (CNN’s host) impartial?

—She made an effort trying to unify the criteria, which proved to be very hard with a pre-structured script.

—Whom from the government would you debate?

—Someone a little difficult: Maduro.

—And from MUD (a body that unifies the opposition)?

—Henrique Capriles Radonski.

—If you were Leopoldo, would you have turned yourself in?

—No, and I asked him in my YouTube video not to.

—An attractive female revolutionary?

—My wife. She used to be a chavista.

—And yourself?

—Never!

—A reading?

—I’m a man from the left who has read Marx, Engels and Lenin.

—What has Marxism done for you?

—It has turned me into a good man.

—Would you support an intervention from the US?

—I totally reject it!

—Is the dialogue possible?

—It’s happening in the streets. The dialogue is the broad base to face the dictatorship. You do not negotiate with dictators.

—Do you believe in the FANB (Venezuelan armed forces)?

—I do.

—And if that gentleman was asked to resign?

—It would be very dangerous. We would get a much clear dictatorship than the one we already have.

—The mistake of the opposition leadership?

—Not having explained in concrete terms what the way out was. And those that were against it didn’t find a way to explain their position either; and anarchy came.

—What’s your way out?

—The Venezuelan people united under a government plan that abides by the Constitution.

—Through a civic-military body with members from the opposition as some sectors are proposing?

—Nothing with the military!, I agree on the opposition being part of the government.

—Although it sounds a bit abstract…

—Abstract because we do not have the conditions to organize ourselves and forge a truly popular power that can promote change.

—Meanwhile?

—The government is awakening a dormant lion.

—Who is the lion?

—Caracas lionheart.

—Will Maduro fall?

—The problem is that Maduro does not rule over himself.

—Who does?

—A Cuban, Chinese and Russian international technical room.

—Will pro-government students understand that?

—They understand it already because they are constantly hearing it in queues (to buy food), on public buses, in the subway…

—How would you convince the most passionate?

—Showing them proof of the repression and asking them if they support that. I’m doing it and I’m not alone. And the results are showing. The chavista base is not attacking the demonstrations, only the ‘collectives’ are. The best proof is the (pro-government) demonstration on February 12 that they held inside Miraflores (the government’s headquarters) because it only spanned for half a block. There is an understanding being born between the opposition and chavista sectors, which do not support Maduro; we’re starting to understand each other as siblings, and that’s the great fear of the government.

—According to Maduro, on April 2013 around 900,000 chavistas voted for Capriles. How many would it be now?

—Three and a half million, but that doesn’t mean they belong to the opposition, since they are expecting an egalitarian politics.

—A leader that brings them together?

—It doesn’t exist, they don’t know who it is, they do not perceive it. Instead of waiting for a leader it would be better to share leadership. There is no direction in the opposition.

—Is your telephone tapped?

—Yes!… Didn’t you hear all those noises when you called me to set a time for the interview?

—Do you wish to send them a message live?

—Gentlemen, Venezuela is not going to be neither your Vietnam nor your Korea! The Venezuelan people are not people of war.

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Original source: Julio César “Coco” Jiménez: “La mayoría de los chavistas rechaza la represión” (El Nacional)

Translation by #InfoVnzla

Alone: the Venezuelan crisis from the inside

This letter gives an inside point of view of the current Venezuelan crisis. It was written by a cousin of Jorge Drexler (Uruguayan musician and Oscar winner) living in Venezuela to explain the situation to her family.

______________________________________

A letter from my Venezuelan cousin (daughter of political exiles from the Uruguayan dictatorship) in which she explains to the family the dire situation in Venezuela these days. I recommend reading it.

Alone

In recent days I saw a photograph of Latin American presidents in Cuba posing alongside Raul Castro. It was a curious image, to say the least: it showed several men and women who had spent half of their lives trying to convince their fellow citizens of them being the best option to rule their countries; fighting for their ideas –right or wrong; winning elections with a great deal of effort, now smiling side by side with the designated heir of the Cuban monarchy. I thought of Yoani Sánchez, as I always do when I see this kind of thing: I pictured her on the floor of a car getting kicked in the face the time she was taken away because she was writing a blog. And I wondered whether the barrage of blows would have felt differently if she knew that the one who would defend her tomorrow and condemn the henchmen of the regime was not, let’s say, a beast like George Bush. When I think about the Cubans I always end up saying the same thing to myself: alone, we left them alone.

What happened with the picture was before the protests began in Venezuela. Of course I was not going to protest, not because there aren’t more than enough reasons, but because it felt like a call to overthrow the government. Then, once again, a young woman from Tachira University was attacked by thugs in broad daylight and was about to become one more of tens of thousands of people killed every year in Venezuela (the figures are official), and young people said, ‘enough’. They came out and protested, misbehaved, burned tires, blockaded streets. Some of them were apprehended and sent, without trial, straight to a jail in Coro, one thousand kilometers away. In one of those displays of Venezuelan surrealism to which we have become accustomed lately, inmates made ​​a violent protest saying those young guys could not be in that jail; there are only criminals here, they said; students should not be here.

That’s how it all began, and here in Merida that very afternoon students were protesting. And Leopoldo Lopez came out and called for a demonstration. I wasn’t going to go to that one either, I don’t like Leopoldo Lopez at all, even having common enemies, and I believe Henrique Capriles was quite right and courageous in asking people not to go and let their frustration loose aimlessly, risking the lives of the students. But as it turned out, the night before the demonstration the so called ‘collectives’ (pro-government civilian armies) came out with more force than ever. In Merida they call themselves Tupamaros. We all know them. They have motorbikes and ride in pairs. The one riding in the back carries the gun. They cover their faces. Most live in buildings that used to be student residences and where now police does not enter. They also have a, let’s say, ‘civil branch’, that takes part in elections. That evening they came out, busted the doors of a building were several of my friends live, and entered with their motorbikes. Shooting. Same thing happened in various other buildings were students that demonstrate frequently live. They rode around the city and police anti-riot vehicles known as ‘whales’ were following, supporting them. The same pattern has been repeated in these days of demonstrations across the country: those collectives are sent ahead, on their bikes, armed, and the National Guard comes behind. The thing is that I live here in Merida and I did not see that in a Twitter photo. I witnessed it.

That’s why I did go to the demonstration, dressed in white as everyone else. Not because I’m part of a conspiracy from the empire to overthrow Maduro, neither because a CIA pamphlet convinced me to stop being the daughter of a political exile from the Uruguayan dictatorship to become a fascist of the extreme right, to use the term our president uses to call us. I went, afraid because I do not like bullets, to tell those criminals on motorbikes that they do not own the city, it’s ours; that we can walk the streets whenever we want, that with their bikes and guns they cannot tell us were not to go. I went because if my father lived, he would have locked arms with me in support of the students. And it was beautiful, and we sang, and we were joined by the whole city in the largest demonstration seen up to that moment. I received a call from a friend, entrenched in her apartment: ‘tupas’ —Tupamaros*—are coming, and police protects them, and who is defending us.

Tupas. They didn’t choose that name by chance. They chose it knowing that there are many, too many, nostalgic intellectuals from the so called Latin American left, for whom the speech and the name means everything. You say ‘tupamaro’, and they think about those tortured under the Uruguayan dictatorship, not about the young guys that came out yesterday showing the wounds inflicted upon them by the National Guard when they were detained. These are the kind of people that when you say ‘guerrilla’, think about a handsome young man with a short beard and a black beret cap with a white star, not about an old Colombian drug trafficker with no scruples capable of even kidnapping children and make them fight in the jungle. They are the kind of people that think Chavez nationalized Venezuelan petroleum, but they never looked for the date. These are the kind of people that when you tell them Venezuelan opposition leaders have not been seen in Venezuelan national television for months because it has been forbidden, they say: ah, but. And you know that if tomorrow opposition leaders from their own country were banned from public view, they would be outraged. They would not like it if they learned a third of the ministers in their country were from the military, that officially there is no separation of political powers, that the head of the army swore the opposition would never win an election in this country, that the president of the National Electoral Board celebrates every year the anniversary of the coup d’etat Chavez tried to carry out, and let me stop there because the list is long.

There is a tragedy going on at this moment in the streets of Venezuela. It is not that there are riots and anti-riot police forces fire tear gases and someone dies, it is not that, unfortunately these things happen all over the world all the time. It’s because there are armed groups financed by the state, shooting and killing. And there is a total news blackout. Knowing that should be enough, it should be enough knowing that in Tachira the Internet was shut down and warplanes are flying over the cities, that cable channels that broadcast news were shut down, it should be enough knowing that journalists are being attacked, that there are dead students, for this left-winger intellectual to bring his eyes up from his zillionth edition of “Las venas abiertas de América Latina” (Open Veins of Latin America) and look around to discover this is the 21st century, the Berlin Wall fell, the boys from Sierra Maestra got old and now don’t let their grandchildren govern, or write a new newspaper, or leave their country, nor found a political party, or shout ‘down with the government’. That scarcity of bread, medicines, milk in Venezuela is not due to Obama conspiring against us all the time; that we are perfectly capable of ruining the economy of a country without the help of any imperialistic transnational company. People here think Latin American governments are saying nothing about the current atrocities because they have economic interests. I don’t think so, I think that it is because of the same reason they posed for that photograph: because they are live in the past century.

Yes, Maduro says I am an ultra-right violent fascist that’s part of an international conspiracy to overthrow his government. Let him say it. Tomorrow I’ll be back out with the young demanding the government to disarm those ‘collectives’, saying the streets are ours, remembering that young student who died with a bullet in the back of her neck, supporting that other girl who lost an eye. And I will come out with the exact same pride, innocence and joy that all Latin American students come out with when they shout ‘Long live the U, long live the University, death to the boo, death to the military boot’. And no, I won’t explain to nostalgic left-wingers what is going on, not will I show them the videos and swear they are real, or sit with them to discuss such fundamental things as the right to freedom of expression, because I am, we are, fed up. It’s there for all to see, look at it; look at us. I’m sure there will be (there are) many who understand, and that those will not leave us alone.

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Original source: Jorge Drexler’s tumblr blog

Translation by #InfoVnzla

*Note from the translator.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

  • Article 7Crimes against humanity

1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

  1. (a)  Murder;
  2. (b)  Extermination;
  3. (c)  Enslavement;
  4. (d)  Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
  5. (e)  Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of

fundamental rules of international law;

  1. (f)  Torture;
  2. (g)  Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced

sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

  1. (i)  Enforced disappearance of persons;
  2. (j)  The crime of apartheid;
  3. (k)  Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or

serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

2. For the purpose of paragraph 1:

(a) “Attack directed against any civilian population” means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack;

(b) “Extermination” includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population;

(c) “Enslavement” means the exercise of any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the exercise of such power in the course of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children;

(d) “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law;

(e) “Torture” means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;

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(f) “Forced pregnancy” means the unlawful confinement of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population or carrying out other grave violations of international law. This definition shall not in any way be interpreted as affecting national laws relating to pregnancy;

(g) contrary to

(h) referred to oppression committed

(i)
persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.

3. For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that the term “gender” refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term “gender” does not indicate any meaning different from the above.

 

http://legal.un.org/icc/index.html

Statement by the venezuelan student movement

In light of recent events it is our duty to request the Government that it enforces the rule of law and honour its commitment to the Venezuelan People. In this sense, we demand the following:

  1. Freedom for all student detainees. A system where justice prevails cannot condemn peaceful demonstrations. Due process must be guaranteed and the law must be upheld in a transparent manner.
  2. An immediate end to torture and human rights violations. We demand that those who ordered and took part in torture be held accountable before the law.
  3. An end to the criminalization of protests and to intimidation. We deplore the use of the Armed Forces as a repressive instrument.
  4. The disarming of violent groups masquerading as community groups (colectivos comunitarios) that terrorize the Venezuelan population.
  5. The renewal and re-legitimization of public powers so that State institutions respond to the needs of the Venezuelan people, that they fulfill their legal obligations and are faithful to the mandate they have received from the Venezuelan people.
  6. An end to censorship in the media. We defend the rights of Venezuelans to be informed and of journalists to communicate freely in pluralistic media outlets that reflect the country as a whole.

We call upon civil society in general, unions, professional associations, companies and especially the families of Venezuela so that they join us in the defense of our National Constitution.

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Original Source:  EXCLUSIVO: Comunicado Movimiento Estudiantil 2014

comunicado_movimientoestudiantil-versionbaja

Translation by #InfoVnzla

Venezuela: brutal persecution

I want to add my voice to a chorus of concern that resonates in a large portion of our America.

Thousands of students and opponents to the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela were savagely attacked by security forces with firearms.

In any truly democratic country no one goes to prison or is killed due to his or her ideas being different or due to public displays of dissent against governmental actions. Venezuela can make as many oratory efforts as it desires to try to sell the idea that it is a true democracy, but every violation of human rights carried out denies that affirmation in actuality, since criticism and dissent are being repressed.

Any government that respects human rights must also respect the right of its people to non-violent demonstrations. Resorting to violence is unacceptable. Let’s remember Gandhi’s warning: “An eye for and eye and everyone will go blind”.

I have always fought for democracy and I am convinced that in a democracy, if one does not have an opposition then it must be created, not repress it and condemn it to brutal persecution, which is what the government of President Maduro seems to be doing.

Venezuela must respect human rights, especially the rights of the opponents, because there is no merit in only respecting the rights of supporters.

At some point in his life Martin Luther King Jr. said that “… the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintained their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal”.

Therefore, I am aware that by making these statements I’m exposing myself to all sorts of criticism from the Venezuelan government. I will be accused of intruding in internal affairs, disrespecting sovereignty and with almost certainly of being a servant of the empire.

Surely I am a servant of the empire: the empire of reason, sanity, compassion and freedom. I will not be silent when human rights are violated.

I will not keep silent when the very existence of a government like the one in Venezuela is an insult to democracy. I will not keep quiet when there is a threat to the life of human beings who are defending their rights. I have lived long enough to know that there is nothing worse than being afraid to tell the truth.

Oscar Arias Sánchez

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Óscar Arias is a former President of Costa Rica and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. 

Original source: Venezuela: Infierno de persecución (El País)

Translation by #InfoVnzla

Rubén Blades: My reply to the Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro

Dear President Maduro,

I have seen a video in which you address me directly, making reference to a note I published on my website. I don’t usually reply to comments, but I feel obliged to do so this time as you have addressed me directly. I hope it is not a fabricated video, as there are many that litter the Internet today. In any case, if it’s fake I’d have to say it is of the highest quality.

Given the respect you deserve as President, and as such, the person who represents a nation, I must begin my note by thanking you for the general tone of your comment about my letter. I take it by your amicable gesture that you have understood the good intentions underlying my thoughts, which I have expressed in a heartfelt manner with the Venezuelan people in mind.

I do not wish to initiate an epistolary debate of sorts, but I would like to clarify some of the points you raised yesterday insofar as they involve me personally.

  1. The comments I made about the difficult situation that Venezuela is experiencing are not the result of what I see and hear on CNN, Univisión, or any other news source, be it “imperialist” or not. They were born from the letters, comments, and reflections shared with friends, in Venezuela and abroad, and from my careful and analytical reading of a great number of publications, both in favour and against your government. I believe the diverse nature of the material I usually choose to read tends to feed my points of view in a broad and objective manner.
  2. I have not, knowinlgy or unnconsciously, joined a plot orchestrated by the CIA, nor am I part of an “international lobbying effort” created with the purpose of bringing any given government into disrepute. I was surprised once again to hear these types of accussations. After all, aren’t we beyond this type of labeling in the 21st Century? If I criticize someone on the Left, then I must be part of the CIA. If I criticize someone who considers himself Right-wing, then I must be a communist. If I criticize militarism, then I must be “subversive”.
  3. I agree that by winning consecutive elections, the late President Chávez proved that the traditionally dominant political parties in Venezuela had been completely discredited, and that the desire to change the country had been freely expressed by the people at the polls.However, it is also true that today Venezuela cannot be considered an united nation. The country’s population is politically polarized, it is a society immersed in obvious contradictions, with a government elected by a margin of merely 1.49%, or less than 51% of the votes cast by approximately 80% of the voting population, with an abstention rate of 20.32%. Despite this, the government is determined to impose a political/economic system —which I will not qualify as neither good nor bad— that is evidently not supported by a clear majority of the population. In such a situation it seems reasonable to call for a national consultation process so that the people can decide. In the absence of this, well, then it seems as if something is being imposed. President Maduro, I think that your government does not hold a representative majority that can justify what you are doing to the country. On the other hand, the opposition, a mix of Venezuela’s old political guard and new visions that fight to earn respect and be taken into account, is not comprised by a couple of fascist pigs, as it is being portrayed. We are talking about a large amount of people. Under these circumstances, Venezuela today could be likened to a house where a divided family has to live, but where some cannot go into or even walk by certain rooms. The Venezuela of today is not the nation that all its inhabitants aspire to live in. If we take into account the total number of votes cast in 2013, it looks more like a version of the country that only 50% of the population supports. This reality makes it necessary to consider the possibility of modifying the current course of action in search of a balance: one that could pave the way for a national debate to take place on its own terms, perhaps in a more realistic and less aggresive fashion; a Venezuela where brothers and sisters do not have to be drawn into a shouting match of “Motherland or Death” (Patria o Muerte).
  4. Given that Chavistas define themselves as “Socialists”, we must assume that they know what they are talking about. They must have studied those who initially converted the theories of Marx and Engels into experimental proposals of socialism and communism, especially in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. They must know, for example, about Vladimir Ilich Lenin’s comments in his pamphlet“Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder (by the way, this is not a Borges-like artifice, it is the actual title given to the work by Lenin —you can ask Fidel if you don’t believe me, I’m sure he’s read it). In his work Lenin cites the mistakes that had been made in the name of the Left-wing movement by ignoring objective circumstances at the moment of making decisions, and even worse, the historical consequences of not recognizing and rectifying said mistakes. He describes how in 1918 comrades Radek and Bukharin, the top representatives of what was known at that time as “Left-wing Communism”, had to publicly recognize the mistake of not understanding or accepting at first that the argument that justified the Brest Peace Accord was not necessarily a compromise with imperialists, but rather that it obeyed to a political need determined by the objective conditions of that particular time. Something that Lenin described as a “do ut des”, or “give and take”. The metaphor used by Lenin about assailants and victims clearly illustrates his position. When it comes to Venezuela selling its oil to the US in exchange for the dollars the economy needs, couldn’t one say that the implicit agreement between Venezuela and “Imperialism” is nothing but a “do ut des”?
  5. By the same token, current circumstances would suggest that it is probably not a good idea for your government to impose its wishes, nor that it brushes aside or ignores the validity of the arguments brought forward by your critics in Venezuela. I do not believe that repression, censorship, or demagogy can be seen as a rational response to an undeniable objective condition. This sort of attitude can only generate more violence, which could lead to unruliness and a political vacuum that could only be filled by a coup d’état, as the military would be the only institution with the organizational capability and coercive power to confront the resulting civil and institutional chaos.
  6. I am not, never have been, or ever will be in favor of armed interference by any country with the intention of meddling with the internal affairs of our countries. I state this categorically. My own country suffered such wrongdoing, and I find no justification for it whatsoever.
  7. Although I thank you for your invitation to visit Venezuela, I do not believe it is appropriate to accept it at this moment. Such a visit could be considered as an endorsement of your administration and of your government’s stance. Similarly, I wouldn’t accept any type of invitation from your opponents; not now. To make this point absolutely clear: I have also rejected invitations to stage concerts in Venezuela this year,as I do not think it is the right thing to do in the current situation.
  8. Regarding the “Venezuelan soul”, Mr. President, and the nobility of your people, I know these all too well. I carry them with me, without labels, right next to my Panamanian and Latin American soul. This cannot be disputed and plays no part in this discussion. Besides, I have come across this soul both inside and outside your noble country ever since I first visited it in the 1960’s. And it is something that grows as years go by, rekindled through my friendship with César Miguel Rondón, Pedro León Zapata, the late but my friend always, José Ignacio Cabrujas, Jonathan Yakubowicz, Edgar Ramírez, Budu, Oscar de León, Clarita Campins, Marilda Vera, Gustavo Dudamel, Ozzy Guillén, the great Luis Aparicio; also in my admiration for Don Simón Díaz –whom we are sadly grieving for right now–Aldemaro Romero, Professor Abreu, and so many other amazing exponents of the talent, abilites, and nobility of Simon Bolivar’s people. They all reinforce the presence of this soul, perhaps none more so than my late and dear friend, the eternally young Luis Santiago, who left us in his prime during the tragic floods of La Guaira in 1999. Equally inspiring is the excellence of the young men and women graduated from El Sistema, the orchestras and the choir, all of them marvellous examples of what can be achieved through hard work, discipline and the hope of becoming someone better. Without making a fuss, without pamphleteering, guided by Venezuelan maestros the popular sectors have proven that they are world class.I do not need to go to Venezuela to find its soul, because I carry it with me wherever I go, from way back.
  9. I agree with the affirmation that, under governments seeing themselves as Left-wing, a greater number of opportunities are created for the poorer segments of the population. Generally speaking, so called Right-wing governments are more concerned with their own interests than with those of the people that they allegedly represent. However, I think there are different versions with which we can typify the sort of empowerment that you are talking about, understanding “empowerment” as granting the “Pablo Pueblo” character that I describe in my song the possibility of doing and the power to do. One of these is generating opportunities so that people’s dignity and rights are respected. Another is offering people the opportunity to develop their capabilities, and not only through subsidies that make them dependent on others, or that stimulate the worse instincts in all of us. For me, the true social revolution is that which provides a better quality of life for all, one that satisfies the needs of the human species, including the need to be recognized and to reach a state of self-fulfillment, one that grants opportunities without expecting servility in return. Unfortunately, no revolution has achieved this yet.

I express my opinions Mr. President without hatred or secret agendas, devoid of irony or surreptitious interests. I would like to reiterate my appreciation for the amicable tone of your conversation and for granting your precious time to address the words of this Panamanian of Latin America.

I would like to conclude making a plea to the two opposing groups of my dear Venezuela: start contributing positively and put an end to your negative actions. Stop insulting each other and forget your diatribes so that Venezuelans can start talking to each other again. Silence is the best preamble to a reasoned dialogue.

Long live Venezuela!

Yours sincerely,

Rubén Blades

February 20, 201

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Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna, professionally known as Rubén Blades, is a Panamanian salsa singer, songwriter, actor, Latin jazz musician, and activist, performing musically most often in the Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres. (via Wikipedia)

Original source: Respuesta al presidente de Venezuela

Translation by #InfoVnzla