Do The Right Thing

 We’ll get to our Down The Rabbit Hole segment shortly but first…Reuters reports that UNHCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), Volker Turk, met with Venezuela President (dictator), Nicolas Maduro, Vice President, Delcy  Rodriguez, senior government officials, opposition figures, and victims of Human Rights violations.

 At the end of his trip to Venezuela he said that Venezuela should release arbitrarily detained individuals and end torture. (In the interest of not appearing to single out the Maduro regime he called for governments around the world to do this as well) “I was given commitments that torture complaints would be addressed decisively, fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

 OK, just stop right there! I know this guy is new, having replaced Michele Bachelet in October, but that doesn’t mean we have to go back to square one with the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) and the Maduro regime. I mean come on…Maduro and the Chavistas made the same commitments to Bachelet, as well as commitments to address the lack of judicial independence, and have done nothing!

 Now we have a new guy saying what Bachelet said three years ago even though the UN-FFM (United Nations Fact Finding Mission) to Venezuela has submitted three scathing reports detailing the pervasive culture of Human Rights violations that exists in the Maduro regime and named officials responsible including Nicolas Maduro.

 Volker Turk should take his cue from Karim Khan, Chief Prosecutor for the ICC (International Criminal Court). He took over after his predecessor, Fatou Bensouda (a known Maduro apologist), had been conducting a “preliminary investigation” into the Maduro regime for years for Human Rights violations. When he took the reins everyone wondered if he would just continue the “preliminary investigation” or possibly even discontinue it.

 He surprised the world by, after a visit to Venezuela just like that of Volker Turk and meeting with all the same people, and announced that the ICC was launching a full investigation into Human Rights violations committed by the Maduro regime and possible crimes against humanity, and not equivocating, he would follow it wherever it led and would hold those responsible…well, responsible.

 High Commissioner Turk should not go backward. He should, like Karim Khan, push forward to hold the Maduro regime accountable. The evidence against Maduro and the Chavistas is overwhelming and everybody knows it. I don’t expect much from Volker Turk as he has over three decades of service in the UN and has accomplished very little (mediocrity is the key to success at the UN) but hey, you never know… Maybe, like Karim Khan, he’ll surprise me…Come on Volker…Do The Right Thing!

 Then we have UN Watch telling us that at the same time the UNHCHR began his official visit to Venezuela to review the Human Rights situation, investigators and a prosecutor went to the home of journalist and editor of the independent El Nacional, Jose Gregorio Meza, took him away for questioning, and summoned four other journalists as well as the head of the newspaper, who is in exile in Madrid.

 Then we have Argus Media reporting that Chevron says it’s crude output in Venezuela has risen by about 40,000 bpd (barrels per day) since the Biden administration eased sanctions late last year. Chevron officials in Caracas have projected that their production in Venezuela could go as high as 200,000 bpd next year but cautioned that the country’s oil infrastructure is in deep disrepair and said Chevron will not be increasing investment in Venezuela for at least six months.

 And we have BNN Bloomberg reporting that Venezuela opposition members met with Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, as they seek to unlock frozen assets in Europe to supply the proposed $3 billion UN-managed humanitarian fund. They also intend to visit Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, and Paris. The Maduro regime has accused the opposition of not complying with the agreement reached in November at the talks in Mexico and has said it won’t move on political discussions until the agreement is implemented. The head of the opposition delegation, Gerardo Blyde, did not respond to requests for comment.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 14 continued…

 …History is replete with authoritarian regimes using secret police to terrorize and control the population, the most infamous being the Gestapo under Hitler and the Nazis. The Gestapo had nothing on these guys not to mention that the Nazis had one secret police organization (two if you count the SS although there was nothing secret about the SS). Prior to 2017 the Chavistas had two secret police departments, the DGCIM (Military Intelligence) and SEBIN (Government Intelligence). The fact that Maduro felt the need to establish a third speaks volumes about Chavismo in general and Nicolas Maduro in particular.

 In 2017 the FAES was created to (of course) protect the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the DGCIM and SEBIN were widely known for “disappearing” people and their operations cloaked in secrecy  FAES is widely known for killing people and there’s nothing secret about it. People are routinely killed in their living rooms in front of their families or dragged outside to be shot where their neighbors can see. They are masked, dressed in black, and carry long guns and when they come they’re not coming to arrest anyone. From time to time you may see one of them in uniform without a mask but that’s usually in the daytime. It’s not even clear who’s in the chain of command (How’s that for secret?). They are affiliated with the PNB, the national police, but that’s really all anyone knows about them and it seems nobody really wants to ask…would you?

 While DGCIM and SEBIN may be a notch below FAES on the lethality scale they are no less terrifying. Captain Acosta was in the hands of DGCIM and Fernando Alban was detained by SEBIN. While they weren’t dragged out into the street and shot in the head, FAES style, they are no less dead. Both groups operate with impunity and have come under fire for Human Rights violations. In March,2019 DGCIM had 15 members denounced by OAS (Organization of American States) along with three prosecutors and two MPs (National Assembly members). It is frequently reported by attorneys that they have been able to secure release orders for clients only to be frustrated by SEBIN. SEBIN is under the direct control of the Vice President of the country so it is their stance that, when they choose to, they can disregard court orders and will only recognize orders from the Office of the Vice President. It happens all the time and without an independent judiciary there is no recourse.

 More tomorrow….

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