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.
The World Bank has joined the “doom and gloom” chorus on Venezuela’s economy. And in Haiti, the Washington-based institution again appears overly optimistic.
On Tuesday, January 15, the World Bank released its latest global economic forecast, which projects 2013 global GDP growth at 3.4%, up 0.4% from its preliminary estimate for 2012 and down a half a percentage point from its previous forecast in June. The Bank emphasized that the low rates were largely a result of sluggish growth in the U.S. and Europe. As for Latin America and the Caribbean, the regional predicted growth for 2013 is listed at 3.6%, up more than half a point from the estimated figure for 2012.
As with many media commentators over the past few years, the World Bank predicts that Venezuela’s economic recovery from the global recession cannot hold up. The Bank forecasts 1.8% growth in 2013, a sharp drop from an estimated 5.2% last year. Since the Venezuelan economy is not slowing, there is no obvious reason to predict a collapse in economic growth.
Furthermore, we can see that the projection numbers follow a trend. Both the World Bank and the IMF have been consistently underestimating growth projections in Venezuela.
Meanwhile, in Haiti the Bank predicts a sharp jump in GDP growth, from 2.2 to 6.0 percent, while the IMF has forecast growth at 6.5%. When we compare these numbers to those of previous years, we can see the opposite trend of that in Venezuela. All the projections for 2012 overestimated growth by well over 5 percentage points.
It is unclear why both the IMF and the World Bank have projected such high growth for Haiti considering the many severe challenges facing the country in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. As we have noted on an ongoing basis over the past three years, major international donor funding has been slow to materialize, progress on housing, water, sanitation and other infrastructure has been minimal, and there have been few examples of improvements that would suggest an upsurge in growth is on its way. There has been even more bad news in the wake of Hurricane Sandy at the end of October, which devastated crops and left 2.1 million people “food insecure.” The World Bank and IMF’s projections of 6 percent or higher GDP growth in 2013 seem unfounded.
The IMF’s pessimistic growth projections for Venezuela fit a pattern going back several years. GDP growth forecasts for Argentina were off by 5.0, 5.2, and 4.3 percentage points for the years 2004-2006, and for Venezuela they were off bya gigantic 10.6, 6.8 and 5.8 percentage points in the same years. These patterns suggest a politicization of the IMF’s projections for certain countries, since the Fund was consistently overly optimistic on Argentina’s growth in the years that the Argentine government was still following the IMF’s policy recommendations.
The Clinton Bush Fund, which former presidents Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and George W. Bush (2001-2009) established shortly after Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, is closing down on Dec. 31, the group’s vice president for marketing and communications said on Dec. 7. The fund will have disbursed all of the $54.4 million it raised, she indicated. The organization says on its website that its goal was “to assist the Haitian people in building their own country back better.” The group says it has “[d]irectly created or sustained 7,350 jobs and counting” and “[d]irectly trained 20,050 people and counting.” (New York Times 12/7/12 from AP)
One of the fund’s projects—the Oasis Hotel in Pétionville, a suburb southeast of Port-au-Prince—opened on Dec. 12 with a soiree and 800 invitation-only guests. Munching hors-d’oeuvres and sipping “free-flowing wine,” the Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles wrote, the participants observed “the bamboo, locally grown orchids and sexy white furniture that lined the expansive courtyard.” The 128-room hotel cost $35 million to build; $2 million was provided by the Clinton Bush Fund [see Update #1080]. President Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) called the hotel “a symbol of the new Haiti.”
According to Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin, Martelly’s government has approved a $161 million hotel project that will bring a total of 1,200 new hotel rooms to the country next year. A 106-room Best Western and an El Rancho with 72 rooms and 13 apartments are set to open in the coming months; Comfort Suites and Marriott are also planning hotels in Port-au-Prince. (Miami Herald 12/13/12)
On Dec. 10, two days before the Oasis opening, the Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA), a grassroots housing coalition, issued a press release charging that Port-au-Prince area mayors, police agents, justices of the peace and property owners—some with questionable land titles—were continuing forcible evictions of people left homeless by the 2010 earthquake. Some 150 families were threatened, according to the group, which said the displaced persons camps at risk were Vilambeta at Caradeux in the northeastern suburb of Tabarre; Camp Gaston Margron, in the Mariani Zone of Carrefour, southwest of the capital; Fortuna Guery in Port-au-Prince; and Camp Cr3, at Delmas 60, a neighborhood in the Delmas commune east of downtown Port-au-Prince. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 12/10/12)
Some 360,000 people are still living in the camps or other temporary shelters almost three years after the earthquake—4% of Haiti’s population, according to Johan Peleman, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Haiti.
Five family members of Réginald Antoine were murdered on the morning of Tuesday, March 13, 2012 in Port au Prince. He and Charles Fritz-Gérald are leaders of the Platform of Employees Unjustly Fired from Public Administration (PEVEP). They have fought for years for financial compensation for those who were fired from public service jobs by the 2004-06 regime of Gerard Latortue. This was the regime whose installation was overseen by the U.S., Canada and France following the coup d’etat of February 2004 against President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
The PEVEP fought the Latortue regime and then the governments of President Préval and Michel Martelly for compensation for workers illegally fired from their jobs in public enterprises. The group accuses Martelly of reneging on promises he made to settle its grievances.
According to witnesses, several people attacked the home where Réginald Antoine grew up. The murderers used guns and a hand grenade to carry out their grisly task. Antoine was not in the house at the time of the attack. The dead include Antoine’s brother and sister, Claudy and Nancy, his brother in law Wilson and two children.
In a statement to Radio Metropole, a police spokesperson dismissed the gravity of the crime, saying it was carried out by a mentally deranged person. Antoine has called on police to find the killers.
Réginald Antoine is one of signators of this open letter published in the UK Guardian on March 2, 2011 calling on the U.S., Canada and other foreign powers to stop interfering in Haiti’s political affairs. The letter is critical of the first round of Haiti’s national election on November 28, 2010 whose vote count saw Michel Martelly finish third and therefore be ineligible to pass into the second round of voting. The result of that count was later reversed by the chairperson of the country’s electoral council under pressure and threats by the Organization of American States.
- Haiti’s president denies dual citizenship (thegrio.com)