Keep Pushing!

 With all the talk about a potential oil deal and the ongoing saga of the “Mystery Plane” we haven’t heard as much on the Human Rights front lately. That doesn’t mean the issue has gone away. Today we have this from Amnesty International. The UN-HRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) established an independent international FFM (fact finding mission) to Venezuela in 2019 to investigate extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment since 2014 (the Maduro years) with a view to ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims.

 In 2020 the FFM presented it’s 1st report… there were sufficient grounds to believe Crimes Against Humanity had been committed in Venezuela including murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivations of physical liberty, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearance of persons and other acts of a similar character. The report concluded that high-level authorities had knowledge of these crimes and that commanders and superiors knew or should have known about these crimes and did not take measures to prevent or repress them.

 OK, let’s pause a moment and let that sink in…We here at TFT often refer to Nicolas Maduro and his allies, both in Venezuela and around the world, as “the worst humanity has to offer”. This is not hyperbole. Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas are really, really bad guys who richly deserve to be in prison. Since we at TFT are Venezuela-focused I won’t get into Maduro’s global allies but suffice to say Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, and others won’t be winning any humanitarian awards (except those they give each other) any time soon,

 Continuing… In 2020 the FFM’s mandate was extended for another two years until September, 2022 and will need to be renewed if they are to continue their work. Why is this important? At this time the FFM remains the only independent UN monitoring body with the mandate to investigate systematic abuses and ensure accountability for perpetrators…and it actually has a real-world effect

 In September,2021 the FFM issued it’s 2nd report on Venezuela and the Maduro regime and, like the 1st report, it wasn’t kind. The FFM documented a lack of judicial independence, impunity for Human Rights violations, and a justice system serving as a mechanism of repression instead of a guarantor of rights, emboldening state agents to continue perpetrating possible Crimes Against Humanity.

 So what are these real-world consequences I mentioned? Well, the 1st report by the FFM combined with similar findings by the OAS (Organization of American States) made it impossible for Maduro apologist, Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC (International Criminal Court), at the time, to continue slow-walking the preliminary investigation into the Maduro regime. As she was leaving office she submitted her report and recommended the preliminary investigation go forward. The 2nd report by the FFM led to the new Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khan, opening an official (not preliminary) investigation into Human Rights violations and possible crimes against humanity by the Maduro regime, which is ongoing at this time.

 It took years but the ICC eventually put another head-of-state, Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic, in prison where he died as his trial dragged on for years. Whether or not Maduro and his cohorts end up in prison remains an open question but at least the possibility is out there (especially since nobody, even among the Chavistas, likes this guy). After the FFM issues it’s 3rd report in September it’s important to renew their mandate and keep the pressure on the ICC so they can’t just let it go away (although Khan has shown no indication he would do so). The international community also needs to continue to keep up the pressure on the Maduro regime so the ICC will feel supported in it’s efforts…Keep Pushing!

Moving on…we have Caracas Chronicles reporting that Maduro fired the Director of ONAPRE (National Budget Office) and replaced him with former treasurer, Jennifer Quintero. This is pretty much Nicolas Maduro’s MO. Whenever there is an issue and “the natives are restless” the first thing to do is fire the Director, Minister, or whatever title they may have. Elsa Castillo, the leader of the Venezuela Teachers Federation, wasn’t impressed and reiterated their demands including abolition of ONAPRE’s new rules.

 And in the Amazonas state, Piaroa (indigenous) organizations and communities protested to demand justice for the murder of indigenous leader, Virgilio Trujillo, killed in July. Once again, authorities have been accused of slow-walking the investigation.

 The we have the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) forwarded the cases of former mayor Omar Linares (political rights case) and his son (prison and torture case)  to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

 Then we have the TSJ (Venezuela Supreme Court) announcing that they have authorized numerous releases in an effort to ease over-crowding in Venezuela’s prison system. No political prisoners will benefit from these measures.

 And we have a spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry chiming in on the “Mystery Plane” in Argentina demanding the release of the Venezuelan – Iranian plane and crew (you know, the guys with the ties to Quds Force and Hezbollah) accompanied with the usual anti-US and Zionist regime in Israel rhetoric.

 Oh, and I may have been giving Nicolas Maduro a little too much credit regarding his approval numbers in Venezuela, which I thought were in the 13% range. A new survey of opinion leaders puts Maduro’s approval rating at 5%!! I guess that makes sense with 95% of the population living in poverty.

 Then we have CNN (who I try to use as little as possible for a news source) asking the question,”Are negotiations over detained Americans slowing the fight for democracy in Venezuela? The short answer is Yes! Maduro keeps a steady supply of political prisoners which he uses to gain concessions from adversaries and Joe Biden is more than willing to make concessions, especially if it gains a few political points with his base back home, regardless of the cost to the long-suffering people of Venezuela in terms of their fight for democracy. ( We had a great example of Maduro keeping up his supply of “bargaining chips” recently when two political prisoners were released and three were detained…so a net gain after negotiations of one more political prisoner)

 That will do it for another week here at TFT. We’ll be back Monday.

 Until then….Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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