The crusade against political dissent under Venezuelan socialism rages on. The latest victim of President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is former presidential candidate Oswaldo Ålvarez Paz. In March, Paz contended that Venezuelan officials had ties with drug traffickers and terrorists. For articulating this conclusion he is charged with “conspiracy” and “spreading false information.”
The president of the Human Rights Foundation, Thor Halvorssen, notes: “Ålvarez Paz said Venezuela was ruled by a ‘totalitarian regime.’ The Chávez government disagreed so strongly with this that they proved him right by arresting him and keeping him imprisoned.”
Guillermo Zuloaga, who owns the independent television network Globovisión, on which Paz uttered his opinion, was also arrested recently for saying things “offensive” to Chávez.
Touchy, touchy, El Presidente.
“If the Venezuelan government can imprison a former presidential candidate and the head of the country’s only independent TV network because their opinions ‘offended’ the president,” asks Javier El-Hage, HRF’s general counsel, “then what options are left for a college student who wants to protest against the government, or an independent journalist wanting to write a critical investigation?”
The Human Rights Foundation is one of many organizations rebuking Chávez’s conduct and calling for the release of persons arrested for what has been called the “crime of opinion.” They will have earned a large share of the credit if Chávez is ever forced to change course — or Venezuela manages to change course by getting rid of Chávez.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.