[News] Venezuela's Right Wing Confesses to 17 years of Political Delinquency: The Amnesty Bill

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 15 17:14:47 EDT 2016


*http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/11887*


  Venezuela's Right Wing Confesses to 17 years of Political Delinquency:
  The Amnesty Bill

By Dr Francisco Dominguez – Huffington Post, March 14th 2016

*Introduction*

/*"A confesion de parte, relevo de prueba"*/
(Spanish legal expression: /*"When there is confession, no evidence is 
required"*/).

Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes could not imagine how correct he was when 
he said that the challenge a Latin American writer faced was to produce 
fiction that was more extraordinary than reality itself.

Venezuela's Right Wing Opposition has just managed to perform an event 
that surpasses Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magic realism: On 18th February 
2016, making use of their majority in the National Assembly, they have 
passed an Amnesty Bill that seeks to provide legal impunity to acts of 
political delinquency they and their supporters have perpetrated for 17 
years. Venezuela's Right Wing majority in the National Assembly's 
'amnesty' bill is not only an admission of guilt for, but also a well 
organised catalogue of, the political offences they and their supporters 
have perpetrated since 1999.

The Bill is upfront about what it seeks to amnesty: "acts defined as 
crimes, misdemeanours or infringements [...] and other acts provided for 
herein." (Art.1) This Bill is an Opposition's colossal Freudian slip 
since with it they, unwittingly, have admitted their guilt of more than 
a decade and a half of illegal, violent and undemocratic political felonies.

The Amnesty Bill is not yet law, since it needs to go through several 
constitutional procedures, including being vetoed by President Nicolas 
Maduro, who has condemned the Bill in the strongest terms. In the highly 
likely event of President Maduro vetoing it, the Bill will then be 
referred to the Supreme Court (TSJ) to get it to issue a ruling on its 
constitutionality. The TSJ can declare the Bill unconstitutional 
regardless of the size of the Right Wing majority in the National 
Assembly (for details of what the Opposition majority in the National 
Assembly can and cannot do read my article in the Huffington Post, 
/Right Wing Majority in Venezuela's National Assembly: The 
Constitutional and Political Stakes 
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-francisco-dominguez/right-wing-majority-in-ve_b_9069350.html?utm_hp_ref=venezuela>/).

*The Amnesty Bill's Objectives and Scope*

The Right Wing Opposition /Amnesty and National Reconciliation Bill 
(Proyecto de Ley de Amnistía y Reconciliación Nacional 
<http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/uploads/documentos/doc_ed81a6f2079a4d3aeaa5e74710b47c5458f139d6.pdf>/, 
in Spanish) makes its stipulations retroactive to 1st January 1999, and 
in 45 articles, covers all manner of felonies and crimes committed up to 
the moment it becomes law (which, in the unlikely event of being 
approved, might be this year, 2016) when would be officially promulgated 
in the country's National Gazette (Art.2, p.6). As we shall see below, 
the political felonies and crimes it covers are comprehensive since the 
bill's scope ranges from misdemeanour at a public rally to terrorist 
acts involving explosives and firearms. The choice of period gives the 
game away since it includes ALL the illegal, criminal and law-breaking 
political acts perpetrated since 1999 by Opposition leaders and their 
supporters throughout the governments of both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas 
Maduro.

The list of felonies to be amnestied is as long as the acts they have 
perpetrated, and it correlates neatly with Right Wing Opposition's 
efforts to illegally overthrow the democratically elected, 
constitutional and legitimate government of the Bolivarian Republic of 
Venezuela. They include criminal acts perpetrated during 
/golpista/ events such as the April 2002 coup d'état; the oil lock-out 
in 2002-3; the street barricades and street violence (known in Venezuela 
as /guarimba/) that accompanied their 2004 recall referendum campaign 
against President Chavez; the collusion with Colombian paramilitaries to 
assault the country's presidential palace and assassinate the president; 
various other coup d'état attempts (in 2008, 2009 and 2010); the use of 
/guarimba/ and hoarding of basic consumption necessities, including food 
items, during the 2007 constitutional referendum; all false reporting; 
all activities associated with the economic war; the wanton violence, 
destruction and loss of life of the /guarimbas/ of April 2013 and 
February-July 2014 associated with the defeat of Henrique Capriles as 
presidential candidate and /La Salida/ ("The Ousting") respectively. /La 
Salida/ was a political campaign led by Leopoldo Lopez, explicitly waged 
to oust the democratically elected government (See Lopez's confirmation 
of this in his own words in Spanish 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQqoCNxPJTw>). Plus all acts of 
violence, including terrorist acts carried out for illegal and 
unconstitutional political aims.

In its Art.4, the Bill confirms the above with breath-taking eloquence:

/Amnesty shall be granted to acts regarded as crimes or misdemeanours 
when such acts have been or might have been committed for participating, 
organizing or calling demonstrations, protests, or meetings for 
political purposes, expressing ideas or spreading information for 
political motives, or making or promoting actions, proclamations, 
political agreements or statements deemed to be aimed at changing the 
constitutional order or the official government, whether or not 
accompanied by conspiracy actions. In such cases, amnesty shall be 
granted to the following criminal acts:/

/a) Incitement to disobey the law, incitement to hatred and crime apology;
b. Incitement to crime;
c. Assault and battery;
d. Violence or resistance to authority, and disobedience to authority;
e. Causing panic in the community or keeping it under distress by the 
dissemination of false information;
f. Conspiracy;
g. Obstruction of public roads with the aim to set up fire and other 
attacks against passing vehicles;
h. Damaging transportation systems as well as public IT and communication;
i. Destruction or damaging of roads and related infrastructure for 
public communication;
j. Property damage;
k. Conspiracy and terrorism;
l. Importation, manufacture, possession, supply or concealment of 
explosives or incendiary devices;
m. Disturbance of public peace;
n. Insulting a civil servant, in its various forms;
o. Use of minors to commit crimes;
p. Arson and other crimes involving danger for the public in general, in 
various forms;
q. Treason and other crimes against the Nation;
r. Rebellion and other related offences;
s. Mutiny, civil rebellion, treason, military rebellion, incitement to 
military rebellion, uprising, false alarm, attack and insult to the 
sentry, disclosure of military secrets, offense to military decorum, 
misuse of badges medals and military ranks, and theft of items belonging 
to the Armed Force;
t. Denial of legally due services;
u. Concealment;
v. Illegal possession and misuse of firearms, and the felony of illegal 
possession of firearms, illegal possession of a firearm and possession 
of firearms in public places;
w. Damage to facilities of the National Electric System; and
x. "Other related offences or those that appear closely related to any 
of the above./" (/Amnesty and National Reconciliation Bill/, pp. 9-10)

The offences included in the above list are specifically identified as 
felonies in Venezuela's Penal Code in Arts. 128, 129, 132, 134, 140, 
141, 143, 163, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 238, 
254, 255, 256, 257, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 281, 285, 283, 286, 
287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 296, 296-A, 297, 343, 346, 347, 349, 350, 
351, 352, 353, 354, 356, 357, 360, 362, 413, 414, 415, 483, 473, 474, 
479, and 506.

Additionally, the 'amnesty' includes offences to: Art.37 of the Law 
Against Organized Crime and Financing of Terrorism; Art.264 on offences 
against the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents; 
Arts.111, 112 and 113 of the Disarmament and Arms and Ammunitions Law 
dealing with offences regarding the illicit and illegal use and bearing 
of firearms; Art.107 of the Law of the Electricity Service identifying 
deliberate damages to the electricity service; and Arts. 412, 464, 476, 
481, 486, 497, 500, 501, 502, 550, 565, 566 and 570 of the Military 
Justice Code that deals with offences such as military rebellion and 
instigation to military rebellion.

The above amount to the violation of a staggering total of 82 articles 
of the Penal Code and other Laws, most of which have to do with 
political violence. For good measure, and taking advantage of their 
'super majority', the Right Wing MPs have also included articles of the 
Penal Code that deal with offences of corruption in the Law Against 
Corruption (See Arts. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the 'amnesty' Bill).

This comprehensive crimes list, if approved as law, would leave off the 
hook the whole of the leadership of the Right Wing Opposition (with no 
exception) that has been centrally involved in 17 years of 
destabilization; all Opposition's operatives and shock groups that have 
carried out vandalic acts and caused dozens of deaths and grave injuries 
to hundreds of people during the /guarimbas/; all activities associated 
with the training, arming and military training of armed groups, and 
with acts associated with attacks with weapons, explosives, firearms; 
and destruction of private and private property.

It gets better. The Amnesty Bill also includes acts
• reported as defamation or libel, committed by any citizen, political 
leader, journalist, media managers or editors, editorial boards or any 
other person, including images, messages through social media (Arts.8 
and 9);
• contrary to the established peace and general order, which occurred 
between April 11th and 14th, 2002" (Art.10)
• contrary to the established peace committed in the framework of the 
nationwide strike and oil strike, declared and implemented form the last 
months of 2002 until early 2003." (Art.11);
• related to statements by political leaders on January 23rd, 2014 and 
subsequent days, through the media and the social networks, in the 
framework of the proposal called /La Salida/ ("The Ousting". (Art.12)
• related to the "National Agreement for Transition" signed by 
Opposition political leaders on February 11th, 2015 and to the public 
call to sign or support such agreement. (Art.13)
• of "contempt of court regarding laws on injunctions or protections 
under constitutional remedies..." (Art.14)
• "deemed individual terrorism as described in article 52 of the Organic 
Law Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing, committed in 2014 
and related to the plans that facilitated the absconding of persons who 
had been deprived from freedom due to the events mentioned herein, 
provided that such acts have not damaged the life and physical integrity 
of people [...]"
• regarded as crimes in accordance with Article 52 of the Organic Law 
Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing in the case of allegedly 
punishable acts committed during protests or demonstrations in 2014, 
provided that such acts have not damaged the life or physical integrity 
of people. " (Art.15)

Art.7 of the Amnesty Bill (pp. 12-14) lists the political events during 
which all the offences to be amnestied were perpetrated: 2002 (failed 
coup d'état); 2003 (oil lock-out); 2004 (recall referendum); 2006 
(presidential election); 2007 (constitutional referendum); 2009 (Right 
Wing Caracas Mayor, Antonio Ledezma, arbitrarily sacking hundreds of 
Town Hall workers); 2009 (August, demonstration against the government's 
Law of Education); 2011 (violent demonstrations in the state of 
Barinas); 2013 (April, nationwide violent street protests following 
Opposition's presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles' electoral 
defeat, leading to the death of 13 people, two of them children); and 
2014 (February to July /guarimbas/ unleashed by Leopoldo Lopez aimed at 
the ousting - /La Salida/ - of the democratically elected and legitimate 
government of President Nicolas Maduro, in which 43 people (see details 
about the victims and how they died 
<http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/n249080.html>) lost their lives, 
there were millions of dollars worth of destruction of private and 
public property, including the setting on fire to 15 universities, and 
over 800 people seriously injured). About /La Salida/, Art.7 contains a 
list of 23 events during which opposition supporters went on the 
rampage, acts to be amnestied.

The plot thickens even further with the inclusion in the Amnesty Bill of 
offences such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, embezzlement (Art.16 & 
Art.30), corruption, hoarding, black market speculation, economic 
boycott, fraudulent product adulteration, selling of items off expire 
day (Art.19), financing of terrorism, illicit enrichment (Art.20), fraud 
and usury in the selling and construction of private housing, and not 
paying of taxes (Art.35).

In short, not only there is provision in the Bill for every offence 
committed by their supporters mainly as a result of violent and 
destabilizing political activities, but the amnesty is extended to 
include all manner of economic crimes committed by bankers, 
entrepreneurs, and financiers most of whom have avoided Venezuela's 
justice system by absconding in Miami, Peru, Panama, etc., claiming to 
be 'political refugees'.

*The Amnesty Bill: a Manual for /Golpismo/ and Impunity*

Due to media bias, most people probably believe that the Bolivarian 
government is animated by an intolerant and sectarian attitude whose 
authoritarianism inclines it to just punish opponents. This is not 
correct. On more than one occasion Hugo Chavez issued various amnesties 
to individuals involved in seditious and illegal actions against his 
government. Due to media misinformation they also probably think that 
the Amnesty Bill is actually very popular. It is not: a 
/Hinterlaces/ poll conducted between 19th and 24th of February 2016 
<http://www.hinterlaces.com/monitor-pais/monitor-pais-58-de-los-venezolanos-esta-de-acuerdo-con-la-ley-de-amnistia> showed 
that only 9% thought it was a priority to pass an amnesty law).

Likewise, most people probably believe that the supposed intolerant and 
authoritarian nature of the Bolivarian government is the chief reason 
for the intense polarization that besets this South American nation. In 
fact, both Presidents Chavez and Maduro have called upon the Right Wing 
Opposition on numerous occasions to engage in constructive dialogue. 
Furthermore, the Venezuelan government has promoted and got support for 
constructive dialogue with the Opposition through many regional bodies 
such as MERCOSUR Common Market of the South, UNASUR (Union of South 
American nations, ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), and 
CELAC (Commonwealth of Latin American and Caribbean States), just to 
mention the most important ones.

Upon the announcement by the majority Right Wing in the National 
Assembly of their intention to pass the Amnesty Bill, /Chavista/ MPs 
proposed instead the setting up of an all-party Truth and Reconciliation 
Commission to examine in detail case by case for the whole of the 17 
years the Bill seeks to cover. The Commission would, on a consensual 
basis and after serious and rigorous police, forensic and judicial 
investigations, determine which case merits a presidential pardon, 
amnesty or punishment. /Chavista/ MPs stated in unequivocal terms that 
the Commission would also examine all individuals, members of the 
security and law enforcement officers who may have perpetrated violent 
crimes, especially those involving violation of human rights. In no 
section of the Amnesty Bill, there is any manifestation of contrition 
for the so many acts of political violence carried out, not a single 
phrase of apology addressed to the victims.

The out of hand rejection of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and 
their doggedly pressing on with the Amnesty Bill, confirms that the 
Right Wing majority in the National Assembly have no real interest in 
Reconciliation, even less in the Truth thus squandering a golden 
opportunity to genuinely bring about conditions for national 
reconciliation. They preferred to opt for their proposed Amnesty Bill, 
thus revealing their real aim is not peace but impunity, which, if 
successful, will encourage more "misdemeanours, offences, infringements, 
and crimes" in future years. Thus, Venezuela's most prominent 
constitutional lawyer, Hermann Escarrá is absolutely right in pointing 
out that the Amnesty Bill will generate more violence in the country.

It is difficult no to draw the conclusion that instead the Right Wing 
are keener to use their 'super majority' to get away with murder.

The Amnesty Bill is unconstitutional since it contravenes a rather large 
number of the 1999 constitution's principles and articles but more 
importantly, it massively undermines an essential principle of any 
democracy: the rule of law (/estado de derecho/ in Spanish). Worse 
still, the Bill includes offences committed by many of the very MPs who 
are sponsoring and have voted for it. One can go through the list of 
offences included in the Bill article by article and put the name of 
prominent Opposition members to many of the specific crimes and violent 
political events described in the Bill. Thus, for example, Art.7 of the 
Amnesty Bill, include "university protests and demonstrations, which 
took place in Merida state, in May 2006", events during which Nixon 
Moreno, a high ranking member of the Opposition, was charged with 
attempted rape against a female officer of the National Guard. Moreno 
fled to Peru as a "political exile" and there is an Interpol warrant of 
arrest against him.

Furthermore, it is well known that substantial sections of the 
Opposition coalition adhere to extreme right wing views and have 
repeatedly shown their willingness to resort to all manner of political 
violence. In this regard for 17 years the government has denounced 
sections of the Opposition for their collaboration and utilization of 
Colombian paramilitaries in Venezuela territory.

In fact, the youngest MP of the National Assembly, Robert Serra (27) and 
his assistant were assassinated by three Colombian paramilitaries who 
are now in prison after being extradited by Colombia's President Juan 
Manuel Santos at the request of Venezuela's law enforcement authorities. 
Both Serra and his assistant were stabbed to death in their own house 
and the paramilitaries declared they have used such a brutal form of 
killing because its silent manner would not alert the neighbours.

Additionally, there are the gory events leading to the dismemberment of 
the body of Liana Aixa Argueta by two individuals linked to Venezuela's 
extreme right wing political parties, who confessed to have received 
military training in clandestine camps in Venezuela and Colombia by 
opposition retired general Antonio Rivero (see details in /Miami Diario/ 
<http://www.miamidiario.com/sucesos/venezuela/acusados-/voluntad-popular/entrenamiento-militar/mujer-descuartizada/alianza-bravo-pueblo/liana-aixa-hergueta/carlos-trejo/jose-perez-venta/samuel-angulo/342844>).

To all of the above, it must be added that several of the 43 of people 
who died during the /La Salida guarimbas/ (February to July 2014) did so 
from shots in the head fired by professional marksmen. These deaths were 
the handy work of highly trained professionals.

Additionally, the Amnesty Bill contravenes many international protocols 
and conventions on human, social and political rights to which Venezuela 
is signatory to. Hermann Escarrá pointed out that the Amnesty Bill 
contravenes, among many others, the Inter American Bill of Human Rights, 
international protocols of civil and political rights, on rights of the 
child and so forth.

In conclusion, the Amnesty Bill is not at all a mechanism for 
reconciliation as claimed by the Bill (pp. 1-7) but it is actually an 
impunity law for political crimes against the nation, the constitution, 
the country's stability, its laws, its people, its institutions, its 
government, its installations, its military institutions, its civil 
servants, its infrastructure and much more. The Bill is actually a 
/Manual for Golpismo and Impunity/, but above all, an admission of guilt 
of 17 years of political delinquency.

***

/Edited by Venezuelanalysis.com /

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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