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10/17/08

Human Rights Watch proves my point

Equal opportunities pain-in-the-butt Vivanco demonstrates
his mastery of the dance "The Hokey Cokey"

Back on September 18th, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report saying bad things about the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez, things kinda like "well, they threaten the news media a bit" and "the courts of justice are biased" and accuing the Chávez gov't of "flounting human rights". It wasn't that big a deal, really, because you could say those kinds of things about virtually every LatAm state if you looked hard enough for evidence, but this report got airtime because y'know...it's was Venezuela. It would have been just another pop at Chávezlandia that would have died down had Hugo&Co not reacted by throwing HRW out of Venezuela in a fit of pique. But they did get chuck 'em out, and the international news media had its little field day about the dictator Chávez yada yada etc.

To Hugo's defence came the left wing, accusing HRW of total bias, making mountains out of molehills and minutely examining the past history of HRW's founder, José Miguel Vivanco to accuse him of being Pinochet's best friend or some such nonsense.

Not I. Your humble correspondent wrote these lines at the time:

In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez (you might have heard that name before) plays straight into the hands of his slavering opposition by throwing Human Rights Watch (HRW) out of Venezuela"descent into intolerance". There are plenty of valid arguments that you can throw at HRW for its report, from bias to the HRW funding background to political grandstanding to the two questions Justin Delacour correctly poses at LANR. All fine. However there are two other basic things to say:

a) HRW pisses everybody off, not just Chávez&Co. As just one example, last year at a private dinner in the US, Colombia's Alvaro Uribe ended up having a near apopletic fit while arguing with HRW chief Vivanco over the the things he'd written about him, his gov't and his country. HRW is an equal opportunities pain in the ass.

b) Chávez (well, officially minister Maduro, but you know what I mean) is a total dumbass for rising to this bait. All he had to do was to let HRW have its 15 minutes and this report would have been filed next to the rest of the guff written about Venezuela. But no, Chávez had to cause a drama and boot 'em out. Now we can "look forward to" endless months of righteous indignation from the rabid right. A really basic dumbass error, Hugo.


Today, HRW proves my point. Vivanco isn't after Chávez and he isn't on some political agenda; he really likes pissing everybody off. HRW today published a big report (142 pages, not quite as extensive as the 230 page ballbuster on Venezuela, but big enough) on the parapolitica situation in Colombia and accuses President Alvaro "Dubious Past" Uribe of obstructing the course of justice amongst other such niceties. Here's the link to get your copy of the 24 page overview or even the full report...all free, gratis and for nothing (personally I'm not going to read it, as there's enough to read about Colombia in Spanish that depresses me without reading it again in English via the filter of arch publicity seeker Vivanco).

So, message to my lefty friends: You're wrong about Vivanco. Just don't rise to his bait (as Chávez mistakenly did) and feed his ego any more. Hugo was a true dumbass in the way he reacted to Vivanco; now watch Uribe do a better job of making his protest and then letting it all die down.