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Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Chavez: the Motive-Hunting of a Malignant NGO

By Joe Emersberger | ZCommunications | March 7th 2013

The death of Hugo Chavez provoked HRW to immediately (within hours) smear the Chavez government’s legacy.

“Chávez’s Authoritarian Legacy: Dramatic Concentration of Power and Open Disregard for Basic Human Rights” said the Washington DC based NGO.

If that isn’t harsh enough, in a tweet sent out in June of 2012, Ken Roth, executive director of HRW, described Venezuela as being one of the “most abusive” in Latin America. Ecuador and Bolivia were the other two states that Roth singled out.

In November of 2012, HRW also rushed out a letter demanding that Venezuela be excluded from the UN’s Human Rights Council on the grounds that the Chavez government “fell far short of acceptable standards”

It is staggeringly obvious that HRW did not simply regard the Chavez government as one which could be validly criticized, like any other in the world, on human rights grounds. HRW regarded Venezuela under Chavez as one of the “most abusive” countries in the world. Make no mistake, if Venezuela is more abusive than Colombia, as Roth alleged, then that would  easily place Venezuela among the worst human rights abusers on earth.

The day Hugo Chavez died, HRW rehashed the accusations it has been making for years:

1) “Assault on Judicial Independence”

2) “Assault on Press Freedoms”

3) “Rejection of Human Rights Scrutiny”

4) “Embracing Abusive Governments”

Without exploring any details at all about these criticisms something should stand out right away. Putting aside HRW’s remarkably shoddy attempts to substantiate them, how could these criticisms place the Chavez government among the most abusive countries in the world? How could HRW’s assessment, even taken at face value, make Venezuela unworthy to sit on the UN’s Human Rights Council next to the USA?

Daniel Kovalik pointed out the following amazing facts last year in a Counterpunch article:

… in a November 19, 2009 U.S. Embassy Cable, entitled, ” International Narcotics Control Strategy Report,” the U.S. Embassy in Bogota acknowledges, as a mere aside, the horrific truth:257,089 registered victimsof the right-wing paramilitaries. And, as Human Rights Watch just reported in its 2012 annual report on Colombia, these paramilitaries continue to work hand-in-glove with the U.S.-supported Colombian military….

… the U.S. has been quite aware of this death toll for over two years, though this knowledge has done nothing to change U.S. policy toward Colombia — which is slated to receive over $500 million in military and police aid from the U.S. in the next two years.

…. Indeed, as the U.S. Embassy acknowledges in a February 26, 2010 Embassy Cable entitled, ” Against Indigenous Shows Upward Trend,” such violence is pushing 34 indigenous groups to the point of extinction. This violence, therefore, can only be described as genocidal.

Either Ken Roth is unfamiliar with his own organization’s reports, or something very rotten drives his groups’ ludicrously disproportionate criticism of Venezuela.

I’ll borrow from HRW’s playbook and do some rehash of my own. I’ll rehash some of the questions I’ve been asking them for years. HRW has never attempted to answer.

1) When a coup deposed Chavez for 2 days in 2002, why did HRW’ public statements fail to do obvious things like denounce the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and (especially since HRW is based in Washington) call for an investigation of US involvement?

2) Very similarly, when a coup deposed Haiti’ democratically elected government in 2004, why didn’t HRW condemn the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and call for an investigation of the US role? Many of these things were done by the community of Caribbean nations (CARICOM). A third of the UN General Assembly called for an investigation into the overthrow of Aristide. Why didn’ HRW back them up?

3) Since 2004, why has HRW written about 20 times more about Venezuela than about Haiti despite the fact that the coup in Haiti created a human rights catastrophe in which thousands of political murders were perpetrated and the jails filled with political prisoners? Haiti’ judiciary remains stacked with holdovers from the coup installed regime.

In honour of Chavez and of the Venezuelan movements which will hopefully expand on the progress made towards making Venezuela a more democratic and humane country, lets recall some achievements of his government on the international stage that HRW would never applaud. Let’s remember Hugo Chavez strongly opposing the US bombing of Afghanistan in 2001; the war in Iraq, the 2004 coup in Haiti, the 2009 coup in Honduras, NATO’s bombing of Libya, the lethal militarization of the conflict in Syria, the attempted coups against Morales in Bolivia and against Correa in Ecuador, Israel’s aggression in Lebanon and in the Occupied Territories.

None of that impressed HRW in the least. It may even have aggravated HRW’s hatred of the Chavez government, but it should impress people who really care about human rights.

March 7, 2013 - Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Little to no mention is made of Chavez’ ongoing provision of heating oil from CITGO, for the poorest families in the Northeast USA (NY, New England) given for the last 8 or 9 yrs gratis…to say nothing of Bush/cheney ratcheting up of aggression against Venezuela in ? 2005 when Bush sent the 5th fleet to positions off the Venezuelan Coast ominously threatening…though little of it was carried via US media….MSM seems they cannot get enough time to bad mouth all the “terrible” things Chavez has supposedly done….support the extremely poor in Venezuela to ensure they have adequate food, education, medical care and thanks to an arrangement with those “monsters” from Cuba who have sent lots of well trained medical staffers to Venezuela (and Haiti during crisis) with little to no recognition for their contributions.
    If I did not know better it seems that all the reforms instituted by the leadership of South America is somehow “THREATENING” to Big Brother/Uncle Sam. The thoughtpolice are out in force lest anyone remember the good that was done on behalf of fairness and equity for that country’s poorest. The US ought to take a page from that text book imo.

    Comment by madams12 | March 7, 2013 | Reply

    • Even in Mexico fairly priced fuel is seen as a patrimony, but not the US which essentially allows private energy corporations to charge what the market will bear.

      Comment by aletho | March 7, 2013 | Reply

      • Es verdad! what EVER the market will bear…

        but this clip from Boston globe expands on the Chavez-Kennedy partnership:

        “Former US Rep Joseph P Kennedy II, mourned the death of Chavez, who was a key partner with Kennedy in his efforts to provide heating oil to the needy families thru his Boston based non profit Citizens Energy corp, for years–saying this: “Pres Chavez cared deeply about the poor of venezuela and of other nations around the world and their ABJECT lack of even BASIC necessities, while some of the wealthiest people on our planet have more money than they can ever reasonably expect to spend…There are close to 2 Million people in the US who received Free heating assistance, thanks to Pres Chavez’s leadership. Our prayers go out to Pres Chavez’s family, the people of Venezuela, and all who were warmed by his generosity,”
        Their relationship goes back to 2005 when Chavez controlled the nation’s oil industry during his tenure, began delivering crude oil at NO CHARGE to a Citizens affiliate, which then resold it and used the money to pay for oil deliveries to America’s poor.
        In January Citgo Petroleum corp which is owned by a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state run oil company and has donated oil for the assistance program, announced that more than 200 MILLION gallons had been donated over the last 8 years. The campaign this winter is expected to help more than 100,000 families in 25 states plus DC, Citgo said.
        Kennedy has faced criticism over the years for his relationship with Chavez.. “Some people say it’s bad politics to do this” Kenndy said in one Citizens TV ad that ran several years ago. “I say it’s a crime against humanity NOT to because no one, no one should be left out in the cold.”
        A Citizens spokesman declined to comment when asked how Chavez’s death may afffect Citizens. A Citgo spokesman could not be reached immediately.
        Kennedy’s son, current US Rep Joseph P.Kennedy III said in a statement that his “thoughts and prayers were with the Chavez family. In this time of transition, it is my hope that the United States and Venezuela can build a productive relationship for the future,” the younger Kennedy said.
        The rest of the article is typical…but there is a portrait /photo of him on this site.

        Thank you for the examination of HRW hypocrisy…oh, and one more ‘oversight’ of HRW….rarely if EVER mention famous Israeli nuclear whistleblower/Prisoner Mordechai Vanunu who served EIGHTEEN YEARS in a mossad prison most of it in ISOLATION..Despite his prison ‘release’ in 4/2004 he remains a HOSTAGE in Israel without papers. He has sued for deportation…but no country will take him…where is Human Rights Watch…to stand up for this man…who did more for the world’s awareness but unlike Ellsberg has served hard time and endless isolation. Where is HRW? no where.

        Comment by madams12 | March 7, 2013 | Reply

        • Brief video discusses above info:

          Comment by madams12 | March 7, 2013 | Reply

  2. Ken Roth is silent on the atrocities, Crimes Against Humanity, and Genocide; as his heart desires apparently from his crimes of omission, considering the facade by which he masks his right-wing imperialist mindset or mission.

    I have to go further, what is an inescapable question that his surname, Roth; and the cover he and “”Human Rights Watch”” gives to Israel; smacks of what is a classical ‘limited-hangout’ of a duplicitous plant to insulate his chosen people to facilitate the genocide of another. Roth must be a closet Zionist! Nothing more, nothing less!

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | March 8, 2013 | Reply


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