[News] Hectoring Venezuela on Human Rights

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 18 15:14:58 EST 2014

  Hectoring Venezuela on Human Rights

By Diosdado Cabello- The New York Times, December 18th 2014


It seemed an unfortunate coincidence that just as scores of people 
demonstrating against police brutality were being arrested 
on the streets of New York and other cities, the United States Congress 
passed a bill to bring sanctions against members of my country’s 
government for alleged human rights abuses during protests earlier this 

While Congress accused Venezuela 
government of cracking down on dissent, African-American communities 
across the United States expressed outrage over police killings of 
unarmed black men. Then, as legislators on Capitol Hill criticized 
Venezuelan officials for purported violations of democratic norms, a 
Senate report revealed the extent of torture by the Central Intelligence 

The antigovernment protests in our country that began in February 
resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people 
<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-27336751>, many of whom 
were either pro-government supporters or innocent bystanders. Of those 
deaths, a significant number were caused by antigovernment 
demonstrators, who used violence to try to oust our democratically 
elected government. Rather than engaging in lawful and peaceful 
demonstrations, those protesters used barricades and burning debris to 
block streets. They also caused the deaths of several motorcyclists by 
stringing wires across roads.

Our government responded with restraint, allowing those violent 
demonstrations to go on for several months. Every effort was made to 
ensure that only protesters who directly violated laws or placed the 
lives of others in danger were detained. For example, those responsible 
for burning public buses with Molotov cocktails, or who set fire to a 
public university, were rightly arrested and charged — as were 17 state 
security agents accused 
of using excessive force against protesters, who are awaiting trial.

Eventually, our citizens grew tired of those protests and their 
incoherent tactics, which only created chaos and insecurity in our 
streets. The unrest subsided, and the opposition lost credibility. The 
leader of the opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (the 
Democratic Unity Roundtable) subsequently resigned 
after disagreements within the organization.

After the death of my good friend, and our president, Hugo Chávez, 
almost two years ago, our country has experienced a series of 
difficulties, including economic problems. As president of the National 
Assembly and the vice president of the United Socialist Party of 
Venezuela, which was founded by Mr. Chávez, I have worked with President 
Nicolás Maduro to find viable solutions.

To respond to the falling price of oil, which underpins our economy, we 
are cutting public spending by 20 percent 
But we will not cut funding to our key social programs, which provide 
essential medical care, education and welfare to our citizens. We are 
also taking measures to battle the high inflation that has plagued our 
nation over the past two years, and we are battling to end the 
black-market dollar trading that sabotages our foreign exchange system.

Some months ago, Mr. Maduro extended an olive branch to the Obama 
<http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/21/world/americas/venezuela-protests/> by 
naming an ambassador to the United States, and inviting Washington to 
name an ambassador to Venezuela. Mr. Maduro also named me to lead a 
high-level commission 
<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-26599312> to repair 
relations with the United States government. To date, President Obama 
has neither accepted our ambassador, nor offered his own in return. And 
there has been no sign from Washington of any intent to engage with my 

Imposing sanctions against a country that has caused no harm to the 
United States is no way to move toward a constructive relationship. 
Unilateral sanctions against other nations have usually failed and have 
been rejected by a majority of the international community.

In Cuba, a decades-long trade embargo caused great hardship but failed 
to realize the United States’ objective of ending the Cuban revolution. 
The United Nations’ many votes to lift the embargo exposed how isolated 
Washington had been in its policy. It would be regrettable if sanctions 
against Venezuela, first opposed by the White House, now became a way 
for the Obama administration to appease those in Congress who oppose the 
historic restoration of relations between the United States and Cuba.

A majority of Venezuelans, regardless of party affiliation, reject these 
sanctions and view them as baseless aggression. We will not be bullied 
by efforts to weaken or discredit our government.

We have tried to move toward improving relations with the Obama 
administration, but have been rebuffed. We can only wonder if the timing 
of these sanctions is an attempt to distract public opinion from the 
exposure of rights violations by United States law enforcement officers.


Diosdado Cabello is the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela.

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