Mea Culpa

 We’ve got no Down The Rabbit Hole segment as we wrapped up yesterday but there’s plenty to talk about. First things first, my mea culpa.I’m not apologizing for anything I said, but for what I was thinking.I began, years ago, starting each day with time to reflect on ‘where I am’, ‘what I’m doing’, what I’m thinking’, etc. It’s been good for me as it helps me see when I may be headed down the wrong path and I’ve gotta’ say I was way wrong on what I was thinking yesterday.

 VOA had an article about the State Department issuing it’s Human Rights report. I didn’t expect much as I’m not a big fan of the State Department and especially not Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkin.One of his first moves when the Biden administration took over was to ask the UN to investigate his own (our own) country for possible Human Rights violations relating to “systemic racism.” It was a purely political move to pander to the Biden administrations base in the Democrat Party. I also am a bit biased due to the State Department kinda’ slow walking the visa applications for my wife and daughter, who are Venezuelan, until they got a nudge from Senator Chuck Grassley (Thanks Senator!) and then it was all taken care of in short order.

 When you combine all that with the Biden administration’s possible desire to ‘play nice’ with the Maduro regime (I’m not in favor of the potential oil for sanctions relief deal although that decision will be made by polls and focus groups, not by what is the best policy) and the way VOA summarized the report, paying very little attention to Venezuela, I thought the State Department would downplay the situation in Venezuela. Upon doing my due diligence and actually reading the report I have to say I Couldn’t Have Been More Wrong!!

 “Significant Human Rights issues included credible reports of : unlawful or arbitrary killings,including extrajudicial killings by regime forces, forced disappearances by the regime, torture and cruel,inhuman,and degrading treatment by security forces, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary arrest or detention by security forces, political prisoners or detainees, serious problems with independence of the judiciary, unlawful interference with privacy, punishment of family members for alleged offenses committed by an individual, serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats of violence against journalists, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, and censorship, serious restrictions on internet freedom, substantial interference with the freedom of assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws on the organization, funding, or operation of nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, inability of citizens to change their government through free and fair elections, serious and unreasonable restrictions on political participation, serious government corruption, serious restrictions on or harassment of domestic and international Human Rights organizations, lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, significant barriers to accessing reproductive health, trafficking in persons, crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting indigenous persons and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer or intersex persons, and the worst forms of child labor.”

 It was quite a comprehensive list, basically saying that the Maduro regime violates Human Rights in almost every way imaginable…but they weren’t done.

 “The Maduro regime took no effective action to identify, investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed Human Rights abuses or corruption.”

 The report went into great detail on each item listed and there were extensive references to the two reports issued by the UN-OHCHR-FFM (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Fact Finding Mission) and various NGOs, which have drawn attention to both the long list of Human Rights abuses and possible crimes against humanity as well as an almost complete lack of an independent judiciary. They also went into detail on wages (which we’ve already discussed here ie; Maduro had to raise the monthly minimum wage 18 fold just to reach the UN metric for extreme poverty) and political extortion. They cited the fact that in 2018, 4,876 public workers were dismissed for political reasons.

 When you combine the release of this report with the statement of concern submitted by a large group of NGOs to the ICC (International Criminal Court) it will be hard for the ICC to not fully investigate all the Human Rights abuses and possible crimes against humanity committed by the Maduro regime. Where it will lead and what the outcome will be is anybody’s guess. It is worth considering that, unlike Russia, who never agreed to an ICC investigation, hence has no obligation to comply with any findings by them, Maduro signed a cooperative agreement with the ICC and he and the other corrupt and criminal Chavistas are subject to it’s findings.

 It will be a long and winding road as things progress. Remember, it took years and years for Slobodan Milosevic to be brought to justice but he eventually died in prison as his trial dragged on, seemingly forever. One thing that should work against the Maduro regime is their attitude of impunity. There is plenty of evidence against them out there as they haven’t even tried to hide it, thinking themselves untouchable… and maybe they are… but hopefully they are not, if enough dots are connected.

 We will continue to report on all of this as it goes down…the trial of Alex Saab… the ICC investigation… the myriad legal cases involving asset seizures… and all the other legal proceedings against these guys. We’ll be back Monday with our next installment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole, “No Soap Box Here” as well as current news.

 Have a great weekend and Happy Easter everybody !!!

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