Venezuela and Selective Targeting

May 02, 2017

The following is my contribution to observations and recommendations from “an ad-hoc Committee to Save Venezuela” posted at The Nation:

The AP reports that Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States (OAS), “unsuccessfully urged OAS members to suspend Venezuela unless general elections were held soon.” Nobody in the major media noticed the irony of his demanding that Venezuela violate its own constitution by cutting short the elected president’s term. Meanwhile in neighboring Brazil, the unelected president’s approval rating has fallen to 4 percent, and a general strike took place on April 28. The OAS/Washington do not get involved. Almagro originally opposed as illegitimate the parliamentary coup that brought in the current Brazilian government, but fell silent after it became clear that Washington supported it.

With a major international effort underway to topple the Venezuelan government, it is easy to miss the fact that it is 100 or 1000 times more dangerous to be a human rights defender or journalist in US allied countries like Mexico, Colombia, or Honduras than it is in Venezuela.

The New York Times reports that in Mexico, “more often than drug cartels,” government officials are responsible for the murder and torture of journalists and the impunity that puts Mexico between Afghanistan and Somalia in terms of the danger of practicing journalism. If the Venezuelan government were to be responsible for the killing of even one journalist, it would be a major issue for the US government and its allies, including the media.

This is not to say that human rights violations are any more excusable in Venezuela than elsewhere. It’s just that everyone should know why Venezuela is being singled out for regime change, as it has for the past 15 years. And the worst part is that this effort to delegitimize the Venezuelan government makes the dialogue, e.g., that the Vatican has called for, much more difficult. But as the large demonstrations on both sides, as well as polling data show, Venezuela is still a polarized country. While there are millions who want the government out now, there are also millions (including the military) who fear a right-wing coup. There must be a negotiated solution.

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