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VENEZUELA
Chavez expels rights activists
9/25/2008
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President kicks out Human Rights Watch delegation after organization releases report on abuses.

President Hugo Chávez expelled two top Human Rights Watch officials, hours after the pair presented a report in Caracas, slamming the leader for allegedly debilitating Venezuela´s democratic institutions and failing to ensure human rights in the country.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, called the Sept. 18 expulsion of José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director, and Americas deputy director Daniel Wilkinson, said: “Chávez´s expulsion of Human Rights Watch´s team is further evidence of Venezuela´s descent into intolerance.”

“Chávez´s expulsion of Human Rights Watch´s team is further evidence of Venezuela´s descent into intolerance,” said Roth.

Vivanco, a Chilean citizen and Wilkinson, from the United States, were driven to the airport in Caracas and “on the next flight,” Venezuela´s Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro said in a statement.

“The government did what it had to do: inform these people that they have seriously violated the constitutionality of the country, which we will not put up with or tolerate, any foreigner coming here to try to dishonor the dignity of our republic, the dignity of our people and institutions,” Maduro said.

The 230-page Human Rights Watch report entitled, “A Decade Under Chávez: Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela” outlined human rights setbacks in the 10 years since Chávez took office, including political discrimination, control of the courts, media control, and an “aggressively adversarial approach” to civil society organizations.

The report also said Chávez´s administration violated the right to association of labor unions.

The organization called on his government to “refrain from unfounded attacks on the credibility of human rights defenders and civil society organizations; engage constructively with human rights defenders in seeking solutions to address Venezuela´s chronic human rights problems; and cease discrimination against civil society organizations that receive international funding.”

After the report was released and its delegation expelled, Roth said “Chávez may have kicked out the messenger, but he has only re-enforced the message: civil liberties in Venezuela are under attack.” 
—Latinamerica Press.


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