The Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC has released a statement in relation to the imprisonment of opposition leader Oswaldo Alvarez Paz that starts by claiming that the Judiciary in Venezuela is independent. They also claim that the case against Alvarez Paz is legal, no political. The partial text of the embassy follows:
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S
Statement Judiciary in Venezuela is Independent
Case Against Oswaldo Alvarez Paz is Legal, not Political
In response to the distortions and inaccuracies in the U.S. media coverage around the recent detention of Venezuelan citizen Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela would like to clarify the following points:
1) This case is a legal one, not a political one. Mr. Alvarez Paz’s detention comes as a consequence of a court’s granting of an arrest warrant for an alleged criminal act. The warrant was granted in accordance with provisions of the Organic Penal Process Code (Código Orgánico Procesal Penal, or COPP, in Spanish), specifically those outlined in Articles 296-A, 132 and 285.
2) Mr. Alvarez Paz was arrested and charged with the crimes of conspiracy, public incitement to delinquency and dissemination of false information.
First of all, to claim that the Venezuelan Juiciary is independent is an insult to the intelligence of Venezuelan citizens and international observers who can clearly see how the Judiciary in Venezuela is made up of Chavez loyal followers, named directly by the regime, in open violation of the constitution. Just to give readers an example of the low ethical quality of these magistrates I enclose a video in which the members of the Supreme Tibunal of Justice, dressed in full regalia, when opening sessions sometime ago, stood up and sang: “Uh, ah, Chavez no se va”…. (Chavez is not going) as if they were members of a cheer leader team.
Can you imagine this happening in the U.S. Supreme Court?
Some time ago, in 2006, a magistrate of the Supreme tribunal visited the U.S. giving lectures in several U.S. cities, a tour all paid by Chavez, to extoll his virtues. Magistrate Vegas Torrealba came to the U.S. to speak in Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C. and several west coast cities. He was one of the 32 members named to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice by the National Assembly in 2004, in an action that was clearly illegal both in the mechanism of selection of the candidates and in the manner the Assembly decided their designation. The expansion of the Supreme Tribunal, from 20 to 32 members, guaranteed the control of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice by Hugo Chávez since the new members were essentially chosen on the basis of their loyalty to the regime rather than on the basis of their academic and professional credentials.
The ethical quality of the magistrates was and is suspect. One of the main members of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, Luis Velazquez Alvaray, was accused of thievery by other members of the regime. He had proposed a modification of the Constitution to name Hugo Chávez president for life. Ater being accused of corruption, he counter attacked, calling the Tribunal "a nest of drug traffickers," adding: "they should put a bomb in that place."
More recently, a lady judge, Maria Lourdes Affuni, who decided very correctly the freedom of a Chavez poliical prisoner, was immediately sent to jail without being tried. Chavez said: “She should stay in jail for 30 years”. She has been in prison since last year, simply on orders from the dictator.
The performance of the Venezuelan Judiciary during all these years leaves no doubt that the sector is almost completely in the hands of mercenaries and Chavez stooges.
The embassy release mentions Venezuelan penal laws. It must be mentioned that this regime, helped along by a totally compliant National Assembly, has generated numerous laws which are designed to reinforce the power of the Executive, at the expense of other powers and are used to target political dissidents, from TV stations to individuals like Mr. Alvarez Paz. The Venezuelan Judiciary is like a bonsai tree under the shadow of a giant execuive power. Suffice to say that in today’s Venezuela, the Public Prosecutor (Fiscal General) who is totally under the control of the President, can send anyone to prison, under any charges, simply by receiving a telephone call from the president. Although the law says that the trial should be conducted in freedom, Mr. Alvarez Paz has ben reduced to prison, on the grounds he can leave the country. For eleven years Mr. Alvarez Paz has been fighting the regime from inside the country. He is not leaving. What will happen now is that there ill be a succession of delays of the hearing, with the net resul of Mr. Alvarez Paz remaining in prison indefinitely.
The cynicism of Chavez Ambassador Alvarez Herrera is a source of shame for all decent Venezuelans. It is very sad that men of adequate intelligence, who served democratic governments in the past, like Alvarez Herrera, Toro Hardy (former Ambassador in the U.S.) and Chaderton (current Ambassador to the OAS) have now sold their principles to a despot.