Friday, January 17, 2014

When all are rights there are no rights

The announcement of pet rights this month in Venezuela makes obvious that nobody has rights.

The 1999 constitution was heralded as one of the most progressive in human rights for the hemisphere. I begged to disagree from the start because some rights were ambiguously stated like freedom of the press, while gay rights or abortion rights were not included. Some rights granted were clearly dissoaciative in nature as too expansive or too expensive. We know already that the rights to indigenous people have created a situation of poor to impossible governance in parts of the country where anarchy now reigns (Southern and Western Zulia, for example). We know that material rights that cannot be afforded by the country have created severe distortions favoring intense corruption and active political segregation as is the case on how public housing is administered and granted.

The fact of the matter is that the regime from the start, from when it still had democratic legitimacy, began a deliberate confusion between rights and possibilities. All became a right while the population had no clear duties to balance those rights. Soon the only duty became to serve Hugo Chavez. Allowed rights were ascribed only to those who followed to the letter that single duty. This pattern, often followed under some guise by authoritarian regimes, yielded the expected result: Venezuela today is an authoritarian regime, controlled by the army even if the president is a civilian.

In Venezuela the distinction between economic rights and civil rights is deliberately blurred. You have a right to food, a right to health care, a right to housing. And the result is that you have extended food scarcity, very deficient hospitals and poor quality housing if you can get it. Caracas slums of 1999 still surround the city as they did then, with probably a greater population density than in 1999, and with significant "urban" excrescences in remoter locations. The political success of the regime lays in promoting those rights as essential, as the main rights of the population, regardless of the ability of the state or the economy to provide for them. All sorts of abuses have been committed in their name, in particular the destruction of the rights that come for free.

These rights, the civil rights that come at a minimal cost, and most of those included in the cost of a judicial system, have found themselves to be very expensive politically for the regime. And yet the regime prefers to pay for the violations of these rights while it does not pay for the material rights it so regards as most important.  That is why freedom of information has been curtailed dramatically, provoking as expected a dramatic diminution in freedom of expression. You are afraid to inform because there is a penalty for it and as thus self censorship appears. When self censorship of media exists there is less information for the public and thus it cannot express itself properly for lack of verifiable information.  In 2014 in Venezuela there is no reliable media on the air waves, all is regime propaganda or self censored private media.  The press situation is also in trouble this early 2014 as the regime simply refuses to allow newspapers to import the paper that the country cannot produce.  Some of the oldest newspapers like El Impulso or El Nacional are about to shut down in the next weeks.

And why is he regime so keen in eliminating information?  Because the other civil rights are routinely violated. The lack of separation between executive and judicial power has destroyed justice since no judge dares pronounce a sentence least it displeases those in charge.  As a consequence crime has risen dramatically since you are not punished for any crime you commit as long as you subscribe to the lone duty of the citizen, genuflection to the regime leadership. The regime does not want you to know about the catastrophically inhumane situation of jails in Venezuela. The regime does not want you to know about corruption. The regime does not want you to know about how street crime has ballooned out of the para military units it created in its early days. The regime does not want you to know about the drug traffic and the decomposition of the army that accepted to collaborate with the narco guerrilla of Colombia. The regime does not want you to know that drug traffic and lack of jobs push crime to intolerable levels.

The regime does not want you to know anything, that you have lost your civil rights and thus, to hide that you have no rights anymore it creates pet rights.

By the way, some famed dictators were vegetarian and preferred pets to humans.


  1. Total systemic collapse is imminent and the only good that will come from it is the complete rejection of "Chavismo". As the country starts to pick itself up they will never want to return to the horror that is today. Unfortunately when it all falls apart, and it will come soon, many, many good people are going to be devastated as the economy will be in ruins. Thnx to this blog for the concise information it provides on this spiral towards destruction. Dios Los Bendiga VNZA.

    1. Mitchell,

      You are drastically overestimating the ability of the humans to learn from experience. When I was young and naive, I thought that the dramatic collapse of Soviet Union would put an end to the ideals of Communism once and for all. I was wrong. Dead wrong. There will always be someone eager to grab power by holding out the promise of taking from the "haves" and giving to the "have nots". And there will always be stupid and greedy people ready to believe them and follow them.

    2. Roy,

      I thought you were the old Roy...but I can see by your English that it is not your native language.Sometimes I get confused by the nicknames on these blogs.firepigette

    3. I am the "old Roy". English is my native language. What is wrong with the way I wrote?

  2. Anonymous6:47 AM

    Venezuela would be doing homosexuals a favor if they deported them to Aruba.

    1. Anonymous1:52 PM

      You sir or miss is a coward, by hiding under the tag of anonymous and therefor you must be against freedoms that are granted to everyone in your constitution.

      Anthony- An American who is married to a Venezuelan.

    2. Oh good! A chavista homophobe! Redundancy intended....

    3. Venezuela would be doing venezuelans a favor if they deported citizens just about anywhere else

  3. I thought Daniel was French. Isn't that worser? :)

    1. The worserest for some!

    2. Daniel and 1/2Empty,

      Your treatment of the King's English is a fine example of worserestness.


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