I have been so busy this week that it is Sunday night and I have not been able yet to write on the new fascist law published last week by the Chavez government. I need to read it in detail and make my report on the matter. Right now what strikes me the most is that it establishes tattling, denunciation by your neighbor as a mandatory activity. For example this blogger who has written repeatedly that the Venezuelan army was in no shape to face war with Colombia is betraying national interests and thus as of now anyone who know shim is under the obligation to going to the authorities and denounce me from divulging opinions that could be used against Venezuela by a foreign power.
Right now there is the editorial of Veneconomia of last Friday which will give you a quick overlook. I predict lot of trouble ahead.
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SINful absence of the rule of law
This week, the Chávez administration dealt a mortal blow to the rule of law in Venezuela and armor-plated its totalitarian regime with the enactment of the Decree-Law on the National Intelligence and Counterintelligence System.
The problem is that this law does not just change the names of or eliminate the Military Intelligence Directorate (DIM) and the Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP).
Nor is it as simple as creating a National Intelligence System (SIN after its initials in Spanish) that will be managed at discretion and with no restrictions by Hugo Chávez; or that this SIN will act like the Gestapo in the days of Adolph Hitler, against anyone who processes or has access to information that may be arbitrarily classified as “confidential,” “secret” or “of strategic interest” to the State.
It is not even merely that this is yet another unconstitutional law, of the many that Hugo Chávez with his special powers has cobbled together on the spur of the moment and behind the backs of the people.
What this is really all about is that this decree-law, published in Official Gazette this Wednesday (May 28), is a lethal weapon that will stifle the rule of law and the citizen’s most elementary civil, political, economic, and social rights. All of these rights, from now on, come under the absolute control of Big Brother, who today goes by the name of Hugo Chávez.
With this decree-law, the Executive (read Hugo Chávez) assumes the “sole power” to search for, process, and divulge information on issues classified as strategic, of economic and geopolitical interest for the country or that might affect “the stability of the democratic institutions and the constitutional order.”
This, in the times of Chávez, could mean anything: from the seizure of a briefcase full of dollars from a public official who is a friend of the regime, to the information on the computer of narco-terrorist Raúl Reyes, to the increasingly opaque balance sheets of PDVSA, INE indicators or the delayed figures of the Central Bank.
Below are the aspects that pose most danger for Venezuelans as regards the exercising their democratic rights and freedoms:
1) It denies all Venezuelans the right to information by forbidding and criminalizing the divulging of information arbitrarily labeled “confidential” or “secret” by some government official.
2) The powers of the new intelligence agencies (i.e. Chávez) are broad, generic, and undefined, which gives more discretionary power to the officers of this new corps.
3) Anyone can be detained without just cause, a court order or the presence of a representative of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
4) Evidence will be kept secret, which means that the right of the person who has been detained to due process is violated as well as the minimum guarantees that entitle him to have access to the evidence that is being used against him.
5) Nor will the person who is arrested be given the opportunity for legitimate defense in a manner that is just, fair, and timely. According to this law, the opportunity to defend himself will come later, if at all. Definitely, this is a new weapon to eliminate dissidence.