Move Over ICC?

 We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…Reuters reports that the Clooney Foundation For Justice has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Venezuelan families in Buenos Aires, Argentina, accusing the Venezuelan government of crimes against humanity.

 The lawyer for the foundation said he preferred not to disclose details of the complaint (as if we didn’t already know based on the allegations in the UN Fact-Finding Mission reports and the ICC investigation) for legal and security reasons.

 He stated that Argentina is one of the few countries in the world that has applied universal jurisdiction and the Argentine justice system has previously investigated alleged crimes against humanity in Spain and Myanmar and, he stressed, these are not isolated cases.

 FYI, did you know that George Clooney’s wife is a high-profile human rights lawyer? Also, if you think Argentina might be inclined to cover for Maduro and the Chavistas in Venezuela, due to President Fernandez being a Maduro apologist, Argentina has a long history of fierce judicial independence. Move over ICC?

 Then we have, in a follow-up to the previous piece, Amnesty International issued a statement regarding the Clooney Foundation lawsuit filed in Argentina against the Venezuelan government.

 AI said the Argentine justice system must investigate these crimes and if sufficient evidence is found (which is highly likely), has an obligation to charge and bring to justice the perpetrators. “Argentine courts must not turn their backs on the victims.”

 And we have Merco Press telling us that Uruguayan President, Luis Lacalle Pou, met with US President, Joe Biden, at the White House and was “applauded” for his stances on Ukraine and Venezuela.

 It was an unscheduled meeting called by Biden when he learned that the Uruguayan president was in the US. Lacalle made news at the recent summit in Brazil calling out the Maduro regime (and Maduro’s apologists) for the regime’s Human Rights violations.

 I don’t say this often but… Way to go Joe!

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 16 continued…

…When 2014, the year of “The Guarimba”, rolled around we got a glimpse of what the future had in store for the Venezuelan people. Remember, these protests were primarily related to food and medicine shortages and occurred even before US President Obama’s initial sanctions in 2015. Maduro used the “Resorte Law” 103 times during this period. It was the first time I ever heard of someone being jailed for “fomenting economic chaos” when the manager of a pharmacy chain committed the unforgivable sin of not having enough cashiers to handle the long lines.

 Conatel, the National Telecommunications Commission, had been previously semi-autonomous but was now basically an extension of the executive branch. The heavy hand of government came down on all forms of media and practicing journalism without a degree and proper credentials became a jailable offense punishable by 3-6 months in prison.

 In 2014, the Press and Society Institute reported 1/3 of journalists decline to report information vital to public interest for fear of personal security. Over the Maduro years as attacks and harassment ratcheted up, many journalists simply left the country.

 Media that resisted government control were eventually forced to sell to undisclosed buyers. Two examples are Globovision, the last television network even remotely neutral politically, and El Universal, the nation’s oldest newspaper. Editors and reporters resigned or were fired and coverage became more favorable to the government.

 Then came the massive protests of 2017 which we’ve previously discussed regarding the government’s repression and all the people killed, injured, or jailed but we didn’t really get into the media aspect. In 2017 the Maduro regime closed 40 radio stations. From 2013-2017, two thirds of all newspapers were closed. In the first four months of 2017 there were over 200 attacks on journalists.

 As 2017 wore on we saw the unconstitutional creation of Maduro’s parallel National Assembly, the ANC. Although created to rewrite the constitution, which years later they still hadn’t done, their first move was to pass an anti-hate law called the Anti-Hate Law for Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence. As I’ve said before, nobody calls for peace more than those who foster violence. Nobody calls for tolerance more than the intolerant. Nobody is less democratic than those constantly calling for the protection of democracy. Again, I buy this stuff as much as I believe in the countries using names such as “the people’s” or “the democratic republic of”…

 The new anti-hate law carried (carries) a penalty of up to 20 years in prison for anyone that instigates hate or violence using radio, print, TV, or social media if the government views it as promoting hate or intolerance. The anti-hate law can be used against anybody, big or small. Take, for example, the Caracas subway worker fired for a Facebook post in which he complained that his salary was so small he couldn’t afford detergent to wash his uniform. The Caracas Metro is owned by the government and the takeaway is : no criticism of the government, no matter how minor it may seem, is permitted …by anyone.

 The information and speech stranglehold continued to tighten. Over the period from 2013-2018 over 50 print media organizations closed their paper-based dailies with only a few opting for weekly publication. In December,2018 the last opposition-friendly newspaper went out of print. That left digital media as the only method of dissent, and in reality, to tell people the truth. Real-time reporting on important issues became almost non-existent leaving only the government version of events and even that wasn’t reported in a timely manner.

 More tomorrow….

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