It’s one thing for professors to rewrite history but it’s even more annoying when they “amend” current events, and in a newspaper, no less! “I just returned from observing my fourth election in Venezuela in less than a year,” Daniel Kovalik writes in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Jimmy Carter has called Venezuela’s electoral system ‘the best in the world,’ and what I witnessed was an inspiring process that guarantees one person, one vote, and includes multiple auditing procedures to ensure a free and fair election.” He goes on to blame Venezuela’s maladies on the United States.
Kovalik teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. Perhaps he and former President Carter should check out the human rights report on Venezuela compiled by the Obama Administration’s State Department:
“Venezuela is formally a multiparty, constitutional republic, but for more than a decade, political power has been concentrated in a single party with an increasingly authoritarian executive exercising significant control over the legislative, judicial, citizen, and electoral branches of government. Nicolas Maduro won the presidency in 2013 by a 1.5 percent margin amid allegations of pre- and postelection fraud, including government interference, the use of state resources by the ruling party, and voter manipulation. The executive-controlled electoral and judicial bodies rejected the opposition’s claims and refused to conduct a full audit of the electoral process. These bodies, however, accepted the results of the December 6 election in which a coalition of opposition parties won two-thirds of the seats in the Legislative Assembly, ending the governing party’s control of that body. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.”
Not that they exercised this control particularly judiciously. According to the State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, “Principal human rights abuses reported during the year included use of the judiciary to intimidate and selectively prosecute government critics; indiscriminate police action against civilians leading to widespread arbitrary detentions and unlawful deprivation of life; and government actions to impede freedom of expression and restrict freedom of the press. The government arrested and imprisoned opposition figures and did not respect judicial independence or permit judges to act according to the law without fear of retaliation. The government blocked media outlets, and harassed and intimidated privately owned television stations, other media outlets, and journalists throughout the year using threats, fines, property seizures, arrests, criminal investigations, and prosecutions.”
Freedom House, which grades countries on their human rights practices, gives Venezuela a 26 out of 100. “Venezuela’s democratic institutions have deteriorated since 1999, but conditions have grown sharply worse in recent years due to a concentration of power in the executive and harsher crackdowns on the opposition,” FH notes. “Following a strong performance by the opposition in 2015 legislative elections, the legislature’s powers were curtailed by a politicized judiciary, and in 2017 the body was supplanted by a new National Constituent Assembly that serves the executive’s interests.”
“Government corruption is pervasive, and law enforcement has proven unable to halt violent crime. The authorities have restricted civil liberties and prosecuted perceived opponents without regard for due process.”
This year, Amnesty International noted that, “Local human rights organizations have said that Venezuela is suffering from an 80% to 90% shortage in medicine supplies; half of the nation’s hospitals are not functioning; and there has been a 50% drop in the number of medical staff at the public centers that provide 90% of health services.”
“The Venezuelan government has denied the existence of food and health crises and rejected offers of aid and cooperation from the international community.”