This week end two majors newspapers of the world have come out with harsh to blistering editorials. They are worth putting in full in this blog as for once, editorials sound almost as stringent as this blog. I have taken the liberty to highlight a few words in both editorials, to show how degraded the image of Venezuela is. For two papers and this blog to use almost the same language is quite striking, unless, of course, chavista will claim it a conspiracy and yours truly advising the editorial boards of both papers.....
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Venezuela’s Crackdown on Opposition
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD SEPT. 20, 2014
The Venezuelan government early this year responded to a wave of street protests by jailing opposition leaders, deploying the army against unarmed protesters and tightening control of the media. The deplorable tactics have largely driven an inspiring opposition movement underground, depriving Venezuelans of the right to challenge a leader who has put a once-prosperous nation on a perilous track.
The imprisonment and trial of an opposition leader, Leopoldo López, show how far President Nicolás Maduro is willing to go to stave off legitimate grievances in a country he and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, mismanaged. Mr. López, a 43-year-old Harvard-educated politician, has been jailed since Feb. 18, when the authorities accused him of instigating violent demonstrations. Some 1,700 demonstrators are awaiting trial and more than 70 remain jailed.
Mr. López’s trial, which began in July, is a travesty. The indictment bizarrely contends that Mr. López, who peacefully called for Mr. Maduro’s resignation, incited violence through “subliminal” messages conveyed during public speeches demanding change that won him strong public support. The judge in the case approved more than 100 witnesses for the prosecution and rejected all but two defense witnesses. Mr. Maduro, who has called Mr. López an American pawn, has told reporters, “He has to pay, and he’s going to pay,” all but determining the outcome.
The human rights abuses and Venezuela’s ailing economy are an outgrowth of the political crisis that has gripped the country in the past decade. The socialist policies Mr. Chávez adopted after taking office in 1999 markedly reduced poverty and expanded opportunities in a country with a long history of entrenched inequality. But his despotic governing style led the country down a dark path. And he drove out capital and talent by nationalizing key industries and asserting greater government control of the oil sector, the country’s economic engine. Insecurity and inflation soared during his years in power.
Mr. Maduro, lacking Mr. Chávez’s charisma and shrewd political instincts, has proved to be an even more dangerous and divisive leader. Venezuelans now suffer from shortages of basic commodities, including milk. Inflation surpassed 60 percent this summer. Leading economists have suggested that Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, could default on its foreign debt this fall. Unable to reverse the decline, Mr. Maduro rails about foreign conspiracies and has throttled a once-free press. Several news organizations that used to be critical of the government have been forced by mysterious new owners to take pro-government stances.
Venezuela’s dismal state has alarmed its neighbors, but those with influence over Caracas have not wanted to appear to interfere with the internal affairs of others. The Maduro government’s abuses are dangerous for the region and certainly warrant strong criticism from Latin American leaders.
Next year, Venezuela is expected to get a seat for a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council, based on a rotation that countries from the region negotiated several years ago. This would give the Maduro government an important and prestigious appointment on a body that is expected to tackle critical issues, including the global response against fighters of the Islamic State. Colombia, Brazil and other Latin American countries should lead an effort to prevent Caracas from representing the region when it is fast becoming an embarrassment on the continent.
(ME: Let's hope that some in the Liberal left will take notice, including the mayor of New York, imbued of his Sandinista past.)
THE WASHINGTON POST
Venezuela doesn’t deserve a seat on the U.N. Security Council
By Editorial Board September 20
THE ODDS that Venezuela, once Latin America’s richest country, will suffer a catastrophic economic collapse shortened significantly this month. Nicolás Maduro, the economically illiterate former bus driver who succeeded Hugo Chávez as president last year, rejected the advice of pragmatists proposing common-sense measures to rein in soaring inflation of more than 60 percent and crippling shortages of basic goods such as milk and toilet paper. Instead he gave a speech claiming that “our problems are the result of economic war waged by the opposition and private business.”
Now Mr. Maduro’s government is attempting to prove his point. It is pressing forward with the prosecution of several top opposition leaders, including Leopoldo López, the former mayor of a Caracas district who heads the more militant wing of anti-government forces. “Militant” is a relative term here: Earlier this year Mr. López and several allies called for peaceful street demonstrations under the slogan “the way out.” The hope was they would create irresistible pressure for change, similar to the “people power” revolutions of Asia and Eastern Europe.
As Human Rights Watch documented , the regime responded violently. More than 40 people were killed, and 1,700 were criminally charged. Some 70, including Mr. López, remain incarcerated. Since voluntarily surrendering on Feb. 18, Mr. López has been held in isolation on a military base. Now he is undergoing a trial that can only be described as farcical. The government claims that Mr. López is somehow responsible for violent clashes in Caracas, even though he was not present when they took place and had publicly called on his followers to remain peaceful. A judge has disallowed all but one of the more than 60 witnesses he called, while scheduling more than 100 for the prosecution. As The Post’s Nick Miroff recently reported, Mr. Maduro has already declared the trial’s outcome: “He has to pay, and he will pay.”
Average Venezuelans are already paying heavily for Mr. Maduro’s practice of substituting political persecution for economic remedies. Now the question is whether he and his cronies will be held responsible for their behavior by outside powers with leverage, including the United States. The Obama administration has been resisting legislation that would provide for sanctions against leading members of the regime. In July, it offered the weaker measure of canceling the U.S. visas of some two dozen officials, without naming them.
It’s time for more visible action. One opportunity is at the United Nations: Next month Venezuela will stand for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, where it would be able to advocate for allies such as Syria, Iran and Cuba. Though unopposed, the Maduro government must win the votes of two-thirds of the General Assembly in a secret ballot. The Obama administration could help itself and send a message to Mr. Maduro by rounding up the 65 votes needed to keep Venezuela off the Security Council.