How far can they be allowed to go?
The Honduras affair and numerous events in Venezuela have raised a couple of questions: How far can governments be allowed to infringe their constitutions and violate the rights of their citizens? and How far can government leaders go, regardless of how popularly elected they are, before the international community raises the alarm?
The population and institutions of Honduras had to resort to extreme measures to put a stop to the violations of their constitution and the rule of law committed by their own president, Manuel Zelaya, and with the full knowledge of the Organization of American States (OAS). This action was not understood by the community of nations and was deemed to be a coup d’état by all, thanks to the “good offices” of Hugo Chávez and other friendly governments.
Fortunately, it now seems that there is some good news. The view held by some leaders in the Continent, in particular in the United States, is changing. There are signs that the US Government is putting some distance between it and the hard position adopted by the OAS, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. There is also the impression that Obama and Clinton have seized the moment and snatched the initiative from Chávez in order to direct the policy for dealing with Honduras’s new government, which will also take into account the violations of the Constitution committed by the deposed Manuel Zelaya and Chávez’s interference in Honduras’s internal affairs.
The question of how far governments should be allowed to infringe their constitutions is also germane to the international community’s lack of understanding of the Chávez administration’s habitual violations of the Constitution and the human rights of his country’s citizens. The precarious situation of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela has been ignored for years by the OAS, the ILO, and the rest of the international community.
Venezuelans have had to suffer years of flagrant violations of fundamental human rights, the closure of hundreds of companies, the loss of thousands of jobs, and the criminalization of trade unionism, including contract killings and police violence that have claimed the lives of more than 150 trade unionists, before the ILO finally put the labor problem in Venezuela among its top priorities.
It has taken the closing down of Radio Caracas TV, the constant harassment of journalists and media, and the threat of the imminent closure of Globovisión and some 285 radio and television stations before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would grant Globovisión a televised interview in which she categorically stated her government’s commitment to the freedom of expression and the human rights of peoples.
Lastly, the legitimate Caracas Metropolitan Mayor, Antonio Ledezma, had to resort to a hunger striking, risking his life, before the secretary general of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, deigned to turn his attention to Venezuela and decide to intercede with the Venezuelan Government to further Ledezma’s request that the funds, to which he is entitled, be transferred so that he can pay the mayoralty’s workers. Ledezma’s hunger strike also served to get Insulza to “accept” that he would receive the democratically elected governors and mayors to “hear” their complaints regarding the constant illegalities and humiliations to which these local government leaders have been subjected by the Chávez administration.
The good new is that the conviction of those who believe in democracy and freedom throughout the continent has managed to elicit these incipient reactions from the international community in support of their demands.
The bad news is that much still needs to be done to halt the advance of totalitarian projects in the hemisphere in order to restore the rights and free coexistence of its peoples.
VenEconomy has been a Venezuela's leading specialized publisher on financial, political and economic data since 1982. VenEconomy's Points of View on the issues of the day, as seen by VenEconomy during the last week. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.
Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by VeneEconomy on 07/09/2009. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers .
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Petroleumworld News 07/10/09
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