Mr. Lugo’s May 5 article, “Rights group: systematic violations in Venezuela,” glosses over several important details of the situation and of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on which the article is based. Lugo states, “the government blames protestors for much of the violence.” In fact, protestor violence is an intractable truth, and one that at least deserves acknowledgement.
Since the protests began in Caracas in February, antigovernment activists have erected barricades of burning tires and attacked security forces with weapons including Molotov cocktails and homemade mortars. Certainly, violence in this form would not excuse the use of unlawful force on the part of the government. However, it is equally important to acknowledge that government actions come in response to a faction of the opposition that has perpetuated violence and insistently declined to participate in peace talks.
Furthermore, in a manner reminiscent of Washington’s ex parte stance, Lugo brushes off Venezuela’s prosecution of internal violators as scapegoating based on the “scale of rights violations.” The evidence, however, is far from conclusive. The HRW report presents evidence of 150 cases of abuse. In comparison, Caracas has thus far investigated 145 cases and eventually prosecuted 17 officials. Like most of the Western media, Lugo’s article presented a one-sided account of Venezuela’s dangerously polarized political climate.
Alexander J. Preiss
Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
In response to the Raleigh News & Observer article: Rights group: systematic violations in Venezuela
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