- State Department: ‘No American is proud’ of certain CIA tactics
- Drug-filled drone crash outside S.C. prison sends police on alert
- GOP to Obama: Take your ‘golf cap off’ and get down to coal country
- Hamas cleric tells Jews: ‘We will exterminate you’
- San Diego Costco, Target shoppers shocked by plane crash in parking lot
- George W. Bush penning biography of father
- Israel vows to destroy Hamas tunnels
- Spain evacuates staff from embassy in Libya
- Peace Corps evacuates over Ebola fears; 2 volunteers isolated
- House overwhelmingly approves $16 billion cash infusion for VA overhaul
Pro-Chavista ‘paramilitary’ active in Venezuela, jailed opposition leader says
Question of the Day
A key opposition leader jailed for more than a month by Venezuela’s protest-embattled government says leaders from across Latin America are engaged in a “shameful silence” toward human rights abuses being carried by “paramilitary groups” loyal to Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro.
The U.S. and Canada-backed Organization of American States is also ignoring what Leopoldo Lopez, a former district mayor in Caracas detained since Feb. 18 on “arson and conspiracy” charges, described as a Maduro government crackdown on protestors and intimidation campaign against opposition leaders.
“The [OAS], which represents nations in the Western Hemisphere, has abstained from any real leadership on the current crisis of human rights and the looming specter of a failed state, even though it was formed precisely to address issues like these,” Mr. Lopez wrote in an op-ed published in Tuesday’s New York Times.
“We need real engagement from the international community, particularly in Latin America,” he wrote. “The outspoken response from human rights organizations is in sharp contrast to the shameful silence from many of Venezuela’s neighbors in Latin America.”
“Since student protests began on Feb. 4, more than 1,500 protesters have been detained, more than 30 have been killed, and more than 50 people have reported that they were tortured while in police custody,” Mr. Lopez wrote. “What started as a peaceful march against crime on a university campus has exposed the depth of this government’s criminalization of dissent.”
Amnesty International has said the charges against Mr. Lopez “smack of a politically motivated attempt to silence dissent.” The former mayor warned in his op-ed — which he said was written from the “Ramo Verde military prison outside Caracas” — that the silence of regional leaders will only embolden the Maduro government to arrest more opposition leaders.
“Soon, more opposition mayors,” he wrote, “will join me behind bars.”
“But we will not stay silent,” Mr. Lopez wrote. “Some believe that speaking out only antagonizes the ruling party — inviting Mr. Maduro to move more quickly to strip away rights — and provides a convenient distraction from the economic and social ruin that is taking place. In my view, this path is akin to a victim of abuse remaining silent for fear of inviting more punishment.”
Recent weeks have seen the biggest opposition protests yet against Mr. Maduro, who was narrowly elected to the presidency last April. The former bus driver and union activist was a protege of now-deceased Venezuelan President and leftist-icon Hugo Chavez.
Mr. Maduro continues to enjoy widespread support from Chavez followers — known as “Chavistas” — who’ve countered the recent opposition rallies in Caracas with massive pro-government demonstrations of their own.
But Mr. Maduro has publicly denied supporting armed paramilitaries among the Chavistas, and he insists that the opposition protests are part of a coup d’etat plot being engineered against him by the United States and its closest allies in the region — including Colombia.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.
His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.
Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...
- Israel's ambassador praises Obama, slams Human Rights Watch report
- U.S. intelligence nearly certain pro-Russian separatists downed Malaysian Airlines flight
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- MH17: Fear of ground-to-air missile strike becomes nightmare reality in Ukraine
- U.S., China to participate in unprecedented joint ground force exercise
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Al Gore's climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- EDITORIAL: The real Lois Lerner exposed in newly released emails
- NAPOLITANO: Is the president incompetent or lawless?
- House votes to sue President Obama over claims of presidential power
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- Star witness in Bob McDonnell corruption trial refutes 'crush' defense
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world