Red Lines host Anya Parampil denies a new report published by the United Nations Human Rights Council accusing the Venezuelan government of “crimes against humanity”. Transcript below.
By Anya Parampil
A new report from a UN Human Rights Council special mission was released in September and is making headlines after accusing the Venezuelan government of crimes against humanity.
As it is receiving so much attention, several people have contacted me asking for clarification regarding the information and allegations presented in the report. So I thought I’d help provide context.
The first point to understand about this report is that none of its authors set foot in Venezuela to produce it.
The Office of the High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Council, Michele Bachelet, is not the author of this report.
The Venezuelan government has worked with Bachelet since September 2018, when the council passed a resolution instructing the High Commissioner to produce a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the country.
Bachelet actually visited Venezuela and met with government officials to gather her information.
This report had nothing to do with that investigation.
Instead, it was issued by a special mission created by the council after right-wing governments that make up the pro-US group in Lima proposed its creation.
Their resolution was passed with the approval of only 19 of the 47 member states of the UNHRC.
The initiative began as a clear attempt to undermine Venezuela’s official cooperation with the UNHRC and as part of an effort to distract from the massive protests that were engulfing the Lima Group member states in 2019.
And before we get into the report’s content, it’s worth taking a look at the background of one of the three individuals involved in investigating human rights in Venezuela: Francisco Cox.
Cox is a Chilean lawyer who previously represented officials of the Chilean military dictatorship, led by Augusto Pinochet between the years 1973 and 1990.
I asked the sociologist Esteban Silva, leader of El Movimiento del Socialismo Allendista, what qualifies Mr. Cox to investigate human rights.
ESTEBAN SILVA: “Francisco Cox Vial is not a lawyer qualified as a human rights expert, rather he is part of an operation against the government of Venezuela.
Cox was a lawyer for a prominent political leader of the dictator Pinochet, Mr. Jovino Nova.
In 2019 he was the lawyer of the former Minister of Education, accused in a political trial in Congress, and who is also the wife of the current Foreign Minister Andrés Alamand “.
The world has seen the Chilean people rise up in opposition to Sebastián Piñera’s government in 2019 and have witnessed the crackdown on protesters by the security forces with total impunity.
Police have even been accused of systematically targeting demonstrators by shooting them in the eye.
At the time, Cox said President Piñera had no responsibility for the violence.
Appointing an ethically questionable hyperpartisan defender of junta leaders like Cox to investigate the human rights of a leftist government is basically the equivalent of hiring OJ Simpson to lead couples therapy seminars, but that hasn’t stopped the United Nations.
So what exactly did Cox and company put into their report, written from abroad, accusing Venezuela of titanic crimes on human rights?
First, they made broad allegations of torture largely based on testimony provided by the former head of Venezuela’s national secret service – or SEBIN – a man named Manuel Christopher Figuera.
Figera ran SEBIN until April 2019, when he defected to the United States after participating in the failed military insurrection of opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
After the failed coup, Figuera fled to Colombia and then to the United States. In exchange for its collaboration with Washington, the US Treasury Department lifted the sanctions it had imposed on Figuera soon after his defection.
Most Venezuelan officials targeted by US sanctions are not directly affected by the measures as they have no US bank accounts to begin with. However, Figuera’s wife was in the United States prior to her defection, which suggests she may have been more susceptible to financial bullying from Washington.
So Figuera participates in a failed military coup in Venezuela, the flaws in the United States, is rewarded by Washington – and then continues to provide important testimony in support of the US narrative on Venezuela in the following months – is he a reliable source?
Oh – and let’s not forget that the torture allegations it presents focus on cases that occurred between 2014 and 2018 – which conveniently end when Figuera himself took over SEBIN.
Just to recap, so far we have a pro-Pinochet lawyer who has written a report based largely on the testimony of an individual who was financially forced to partner with Washington to overthrow the government of Venezuela.
But let’s take a closer look at some of the torture allegations, most notably the report’s allegation that Venezuela’s treatment of opposition leader Leopoldo López “contributes to torture and cruel and inhuman punishment.”
López is currently serving time to encourage and lead violent protests aimed at overthrowing Venezuela’s elected government.
However, until his participation in last year’s coup, López lived under house arrest at home with his family. He is currently hiding in the Spanish embassy in Caracas.
Even when he was in detention, he was allowed visits with his loved ones.
During house arrest, López openly encouraged acts of violence to overthrow the Venezuelan government.
He also worked with Guaidó and other US-backed opponents to overthrow the government. In April 2019, he was evicted from his home during a failed coup attempt he initiated, thanks to the collaboration of Manuel Figuera.
Can you imagine anyone in the United States getting away with such actions?
If only the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, had been granted such comfortable conditions.
But I digress: as absurd as López’s allegations of torture are, perhaps nothing in the report is as insanely dishonest as the handling of Óscar Pérez’s case.
You may recall that Pérez from that time stole a government helicopter in Caracas and attempted to fly it into the country’s Supreme Court while firing grenades at the Venezuela Department of Justice.
Despite the gravity of his crime, Pérez was killed only 6 months later, during a raid in which he and his collaborators fired on police, killing at least two. They were found with heavy weapons and explosives.
According to Cox’s report, Pérez’s death amounts to an “extrajudicial murder” and Pérez’s only actions were to “commandeer a helicopter and fly it over the Supreme Court of Justice, in an attack”.
Yes, just leaving out some details. Like the part where he bombed government buildings. And again, imagine how this scenario would have turned out in the United States?
Now, I’m not trying to argue that every aspect of the relationship was completely made up –
In fact, the Venezuelan government responded by saying that it investigated many of the cases presented in the report and punished those responsible for the crimes – those details were simply not reflected in the document.
But the fact that this report also had to highlight the cases of López and Pérez tells you how desperate Cox and company – and by extension the United States and its allies – are to accuse the Venezuelan government of wrongdoing. Because?
Well, he says only after the report was released, opposition leader Juan Guaidó gave an unusual speech announced as a speech before the UN General Assembly – which was actually just a zoom call broadcast live on his YouTube channel. .
During the bogus “UN speech”, he called on the international community to invoke its “responsibility to protect” Venezuelans and “contemplate the scenarios after all routes have been exhausted”. To defend his cause, Guaidó referenced the recent discoveries of the United Nations.
Guaidó was openly calling for direct military intervention in Venezuela under the pretext of humanitarian intervention – because from Iraq, to Libya, to Syria, it has fared so well in recent history. There really is no better way to restore democracy than for the US Air Force to bomb your country’s capital to death, right?
So this UN report is simply a propaganda tool generated by the United States and its allies to justify the potential military invasion of Venezuela. If the nations responsible for its production had truly cared about the welfare of Venezuelans, they could have called for an end to external sanctions and interference against their country. But in reality they are not interested in human rights, unless they can be used as weapons to grant them the power they are unable to gain at the polls.