UN Human Rights Report Suggests Venezuelan Government Committing Thousands of Extrajudicial Killings

On July 4, 2019, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report (400kb PDF) that point to “unusually high” levels of extrajudicial killing by Venezuelan security forces as well as use of torture by security forces.

In most cases, women and men were subjected to one or more forms of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including electric shocks, suffocation with plastic bags, water boarding, beatings, sexual violence, water and food deprivation, stress positions and exposure to extreme temperatures. Security forces and intelligence services, particularly SEBIN and DGCIM, routinely resort to such practices to extract information and confessions, intimidate, and punish the detainees. The authorities have failed to conduct prompt, effective, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment, including SGBV, to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice and to provide reparation to the victims. In particular, judicial authorities have often reversed the burden of proof refusing to open investigations if the victims did not identify perpetrators. According to the Attorney-General’s Office, 72 complaints of alleged torture and other ill-treatment concerning 174 persons detained in the context of demonstrations between 2017 and 2019 have been filed. No information was provided on the status of investigation

. . .

OHCHR interviewed the relatives of 20 young men killed by FAES from June 2018 to April 2019. All described a similar modus operandi. FAES would arrive in black pickup trucks without licence plates and block access points in the area. They were dressed in black, without any personal identification, with balaclavas covering their faces. They would also carry long weapons. Families of the victims described FAES breaking into their houses, taking their belongings, and exercising gender-based violence against women and girls, including forced nudity. They would separate young men from other family members before shooting them. According to their relatives, almost all of the victims had one or more shots in the chest.

In every case, witnesses reported how FAES manipulated the crime scene and evidence. They would plant arms and drugs and fire their weapons against the walls or in the air to suggest a confrontation and to show the victim had “resisted authority”. In many cases, FAES brought the victims to hospital even though they were already dead, apparently with the intention of manipulating the bodies and modifying the crime scene. In some cases, the authorities declared that the victims were criminals before the conclusion of a formal investigation.

The authorities classify the killings resulting from security operations as “resistance to authority”. The number of these deaths is unusually high. In 2018, the Government registered 5,287 such killings,39 while the NGO “Observatorio Venezolano de la Violencia” (OVV) reported at least 7,523 killings under this category. Between 1 January and 19 May 2019, the Government reported 1,569 killings for “resistance to authority”. The OVV reported at least 2,124 of such killings between January and May 2019. Information analysed by OHCHR suggests many of these killings may constitute extrajudicial executions.

In a press release accompany the report, the UNHCHR said the Venezuelan government was engaged in a systematic effort to undermine human rights.

The report, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, states that over the last decade – and especially since 2016 – the Government and its institutions have implemented a strategy “aimed at neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing political opponents and people critical of the Government.” A series of laws, policies and practices has restricted the democratic space, dismantled institutional checks and balances, and allowed patterns of grave violations. The report also highlights the impact of the deepening economic crisis that has left people without the means to fulfil their fundamental rights to food and health, among others.

. . .

The report details how State institutions have been steadily militarized over the past decade. During the reporting period, civil and military forces have allegedly been responsible for arbitrary detentions; ill-treatment and torture of people critical of the Government and their relatives; sexual and gender-based violence in detention and during visits; and excessive use of force during demonstrations.

World of Warcraft In-Game Currency Worth More Than Venezuelan Currency

According to The Blaze, the Venezuelan bolivar has been so devalued that it is now worth less than a single gold piece in World of Warcraft.

Venezuelan resident and Twitter user @KalebPrime first made the discovery July 14 and tweeted at the time that on the Venezuela’s black market — now the most-used method of currency exchange within Venezuela according to NPR — you can get $1 for 8493.97 bolivars. Meanwhile, a “WoW” token, which can be bought for $20 from the in-game auction house, is worth 8385 gold per dollar.

According to The Blaze, this contrasts with May 2017 when–while still heavily devalued–$1 would only net you 279 bolivars.

Maduro and Chávez turned out to be the real world bosses.

Venezuela’s Hyperinflation Is So Bad, Now It Can’t Afford to Pay Its Currency Printers

In response to its economic problems, Venezuela has been rapidly inflating its money supply. In just the last two years, Venezuela has almost quadrupled its M0 and M2 Money supplies. According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela now has the world’s highest level of inflation.

Such hyperinflation has, not surprisingly, led to shortages and problems that go with this strategy. But According to a Bloomberg report, Venezuela’s inflation has been so rapid that it is now having problems locating firms to actually print the money it needs.

The story began last year when the government of President Nicolas Maduro tried to tamp down a growing currency shortfall. Multi-million-dollar orders were placed with a slew of currency makers ahead of December elections and holidays, when Venezuelans throng banks to cash their bonuses.

At one point, instead of a public bidding process, the central bank called an emergency meeting and asked companies to produce as many bills as possible. The companies complied, only to find payments not fully forthcoming.

Last month, De La Rue, the world’s largest currency maker, sent a letter to the central bank complaining that it was owed $71 million and would inform its shareholders if the money were not forthcoming. The letter was leaked to a Venezuelan news website and confirmed by Bloomberg News.

Third world problems.

Violence in Venezuela Tonight

Tonight violence erupted in Venezuela as police opened fire on a large crowd of people protesting the increasingly dictatorial rule of Hugo Chavez. CNN reports that at least 12 people were killed and 96 wounded. Chavez ordered private television stations shut down.

Chavez is a socialist who hobnobs with Fidel Castro, and like Castro he talked a big game about the poor and the workers until they started talking back. Chavez refuses to recognize the leader of the largest labor group in Venezuela, for example.

The kicker, though, is that Chavez has been relatively popular with not only Leftists but also with some anti-war Right wingers such as AntiWar.Com’s Justin Raimondo.

That Chavez had a dictatorial bent (he had previously led a failed military coup against the elected government of Venezuela) was apparent to many people a long time ago, but Raimondo chose to see Chavez through rose-colored glasses, dismissing critics who predicted exactly the sort of thing that happened tonight. Back on January 5, 2001, for example, Raimondo wrote,

The recent elections to the National Assembly returned followers of Chavez by a resounding 90 percent-plus. Chavez isn’t dreaming about the
dictatorship of the proletariat, in spite of the ultra-left sympathies of
some of his followers: instead, he dreams of “a confederation of Latin
American states for the new century,” one “joining the Caribbean basin
though railways and linking them with the great rivers such as the Orinoco,
the Amazon and the Plata,” which he calls “the arteries of our continent.” Like Bolivar, he dreams of a sovereign, independent, and prosperous South
America: to the US State Department, this is a crime. To the people of
Venezuela, and beyond, it is an ambition that may be worth fighting for.

Yeah, and apparently worth opening fire with snipers on a crowd of protesters.

I certainly hope that we can now expect to see Raimondo chastise himself in one of his extended rants about how sick he is of pseudo-libertarians singing the praises of a socialist dictator-wannabes.

Documents Reveal Close U.S. Ties with Disgraced Peruvian Intelligence Chief

At the request of the Peruvian Congress, the United States embassy in Lima recently declassified 38 documents that cover the period of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori’s reign from 1990-2000. Specifically the documents detail the United States’ relationship with former head of Peru’s intelligence service, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Montesinos created a controversy that eventually forced both he and Fujimori to flee Peru when Montesinos was videotaped offering a congressman a $15,000 bribe. Montesinos fled to Venezuela but was extradited back to Peru in June 2001. Fujimori is currently in Japan which so far has refused to extradite him.

Montesinos was regularly plagued by accusations of human rights violations and of participating in the narcotics traffic himself (not surprisingly, Montesinos was an alumnus of United States’ School of Americas).

A 1996 message declassified by the United States calls Montesinos “a valued ally in the drug fight, but no choirboy,” adding that, “the question of whether our relationship with Montesinos will become a liability looms before us.”

Ironically, Montesinos allegedly skimmed off the anti-drug money the United States pumped into Peru to finance relatively large arms deals to provide weapons to left-wing guerillas in Colombia who the United States is now spending more than $1 billion to help that nation defeat.

Montesinos also used his position not to fight drugs, but rather to enrich himself. Montesinos received tens of millions of dollars in “protection money” from drug traffickers, and as part of that deal would direct the full force of Peruvian and United States military assets against traffickers who refused to cough up.

A drug cartel back by U.S. firepower and intelligence — thank goodness Barry McCaffrey was looking out for American interests.

Source:

US reveals ties with Montesinos. The BBC, January 8, 2002.

Is the World Running Out of Oil Capacity?

    In the 1970s the big concern was that the world was simply running out of oil — during the gas shortages some “experts” claimed the world would run out of oil by the end of the mid-1980s. That never happened, but there is some evidence that government intervention is accomplishing pretty much the same thing.

    Today the problem is that although there is a glut of oil, the capacity to refine oil into gasoline and then transport said gasoline is constantly being diminished thanks to government regulation. This was one of the major causes of this summer’s price hikes in the United States. Although oil prices increased, the increase in gasoline prices was exacerbated by a combination of new EPA regulations requiring specially formulated gasoline for a few areas of the United States. When problems happened with refineries and pipelines designed to carry this new gasoline formulation, it quickly became apparent that energy producers had almost no extra capacity to refine and transport the gasoline elsewhere. Prices quickly shot up especially in the Midwest and California.

    At a recent OPEC meeting, Venezuela’s oil minister Ali Rodriguez claimed this is quickly becoming a worldwide problem. “We are approaching a crisis of great proportions because oil production capacity is reaching its limit,” Rodriguez said.

    Among other things, Rodriguez cited refinery bottlenecks, transportation restrictions, and high taxes imposed by oil importing countries as the driving oil prices ever higher. Rodriguez also blamed financial speculation for high oil prices, but failed to note the role that the OPEC cartel plays in artificially keeping the price of oil high as well as encouraging such speculation by allowing fortunes to be made on whether people guess correctly not what the size of oil supplies or demand for oil is, but whether guessing correctly what OPEC will decide to do next.

    Just as in the 1970s gasoline crises, it is decisions made by governments and other political actors, rather than the free market, that is responsible for high energy prices.

Source:

World ‘faces oil crisis’. The BBC, September 12, 2000.