Venezuela: Chávez Allies Pack Supreme Court
The law passed in May expanded the court from 20 to 32 members. In addition to the justices named to the 12 new seats, five justices were named to fill vacancies that had opened in recent months, and 32 more were named as reserve justices for the court. Members and allies of President Chávez’s Fifth Republic Movement (Movimiento V República, or MVR) form a majority in Congress.
Venezuela: Chávez Allies Pack Supreme Court | Human Rights WatchReport: Venezuela's Hugo Chávez aggressively seizing control of media
Report: Venezuela's Hugo Chávez aggressively seizing control of media - Top Mobile Story - MiamiHerald.com
1. Desacato laws (insults to authority)
451. As was stated in the section dealing with the Supreme Court’s judgment of July 15, 2003, Venezuela’s criminal laws contain provisions that are incompatible with Article 13 of the Convention. An example of this are those laws that criminalize offensive statements made against public officials, known as desacato laws (insults to authority).
452. Venezuela’s Criminal Code contains a series of provisions that, if enforced, would restrict full enjoyment of freedom of expression by criminalizing offensive statements made about public officials. These precepts are the following:
Article 148. Any person who offends, verbally or in writing or in any other fashion, the President of the Republic or the person serving in that capacity shall be punished with a prison term of between six and thirty months, if the offense was serious, and of half that duration, if it was slight.
The punishment shall be increased by one-third if the offense was made publicly.
If the offense was made against the President of either Chamber of the Legislature or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the punishment shall be from four months to two years, if the offense was serious, and half that duration, if it was slight.
Article 149. When the actions described in the Article above are made against the Governor of one of the nation’s States, or against Cabinet Ministers, the General Secretary of the President’s Office, the Governor of the Federal District or Federal Territories, Supreme Court Justices, the Presidents of the State Legislatures, and Superior Judges, or against persons serving in those capacities, the punishment indicated in that Article shall be reduced to one-half; and, with respect to Presidents of Municipal Councils, Federal District Department Prefects, or District Civil Chiefs, it shall be reduced to one-third.
Article 150. Any person who publicly insults the Congress, the Chambers of the National Legislature, the Supreme Court of Justice, the Cabinet or Council of Ministers, any of the Legislatures or Legislative Assemblies of the nation’s states, or any of the Superior Courts, shall be punished by a prison term of between fifteen days and ten months.
Those who carry out the same acts against Municipal Councilors shall receive half that punishment.
The punishments shall be increased by one-half if the offense was made during performance of official functions by the institutions in question.
Article 151. The courts shall be responsible for distinguishing the serious and slight offenses referred to in Articles 148, 149, and 150.
Article 152. Prosecution for the actions referred to in the articles above shall not commence except at the request of the offended person or institution, lodged with the competent judge through the offices of the Public Prosecution Service.
Article 223. Any person who, by word or deed, offends in any way the honor, reputation, or dignity of a member of Congress or any public official shall be punished as indicated below, if the offense was made in the presence thereof and in connection with their functions:
1. If the offense was directed against a law-enforcement officer, with a prison term of one to three months.
2. If the offense was directed against a member of Congress or a public official, with a prison term of one month to one year, according to the rank of the person in question.
Article 224. If the action described in the Article above is accompanied by violence or threats, it shall be punishable by a prison term of between three and eighteen months.
Any person who, in another way not provided for in the cases listed in the previous chapter, makes use of violence against or threatens a member of Congress or other public official, should that act take place as a result of the victim’s functions, shall be punishable with the same punishments.
Article 225. When any of the actions described in the above articles is committed against a public official not as a result of his functions but at a moment in which he is performing them, the same punishments shall apply, with a reduction of between one-third and one-half.
Article 226. Any person who, by word or by deed, offends in any way the honor, reputation, or dignity of a judicial, political, or administrative body, if the crime is committed at a time when it is established, or any magistrate in a hearing, shall be punished with a prison term of between three months and two years.
If the perpetrator used violence or threats, the prison term shall be from six months to three years.
Prosecution shall take place only by means of a request lodged by the offended party. If the crime is committed against bodies not meeting at the time, the prosecution shall only proceed following a request made by its presiding members.
Said request shall be lodged with the Public Prosecution Service in order for the applicable steps to be taken.
Article 227. In the cases provided for in the Articles above, the guilty party shall not be allowed to admit any evidence regarding the truthfulness or notoriety of the allegations or defects with which the offended party is accused.
Venezuela 2003 - Chapte VI.................................................. .............................Venezuela is building a civilian militia
By Fabiola Sanchez
The Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez constantly warns Venezuelans a U.S. invasion is imminent.
Now he's begun training a civilian militia as well as the Venezuelan army to resist in the only way possible against a much better-equipped force: by taking to the hills and fighting a guerrilla war.
Supporters of the president, a former paratroop commander, are increasingly taking up his call. Chávez wants 1 million armed men and women in the army reserve, and 150,000 have already joined, surpassing the regular military's force of 100,000. Now Venezuelans are also organizing neighborhood-based militia units for Chávez's Territorial Guard.
The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Venezuela is building a civilian militia
The competitive advantage of individual property rights has been proven thousands of times over by history. It would be a more interesting debate if you were to pick any year in recent history, and I would demonstrate the advantage of capitalism with events just from that year.
.................................................. .....................Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was sued Thursday in federal court in Miami, accused of violating the human rights of 15 anti-government protesters who were killed or wounded while demonstrating in front of the presidential palace in Caracas.
"We have audiotapes of Chavez giving orders to fire on the demonstrators," Martinez-Fraga said. On the tapes, which were picked up from two-way radio transmissions, Martinez-Fraga said, the Venezuelan leader is referred to by the code name "Tiburon Uno" -- which in English means "Shark One."
Law.com - Suing Hugo Chavez
The only element that I can identify as a legitimately troublesome aspect of that is the court packing plan...but even the results there would likely have been similar if the judiciary had been subject to popular election instead of undemocratic appointment, considering the continued support for the Chavez administration throughout Venezuela.
The other issues you've mentioned don't appear to have much legitimacy behind them, considering that the "restrictions" on freedom of expression aren't dramatically different from slander/libel/defamation laws that exist in the U.S. and other major Western countries and the media broadcasters that are being "seized" committed violations of their licensing contracts, some of them related to endorsement of the anti-democratic coup that likely would have gotten them imprisoned in the U.S. The militia issue also seems to be a non-starter if you're not able to prove that that body is being deliberately used by the administration for human rights violations. I noticed you also glossed over the inconvenient fact that the 1999 Constitution was democratically approved by a supermajority, incidentally.
Interesting. Killing his own supporters certainly does seem to be a clever tactic; I'm puzzled as to why more Western politicians haven't adopted it so they can be as popular as Chavez...and killing his own supporters with a police force that opposes him is quite a devilish twist. How does that man do it?While pro-Chavez forces have been identified as participating in the shootings, some investigators and human rights groups have said that anti-Chavez Metropolitan Police officers also shot at Chavez supporters on that bloody day. In April of this year, the New York Times reported that seven of the 19 dead were Chavez supporters.
Or...hmmm...maybe he didn't do it. Shockingly enough, it appears that the baseless allegations made by the plaintiffs are even more...uh...reality-challenging that we initially presumed. As put by Newsday reporter Bart Jones:
Interesting. So apart from the inability of the Chavistas on the bridge to have gunned down the civilians that opponents have alleged they shot and shot at not only due to time issues but to the distance and angle impediments that would have rendered them physically incapable of shooting many of those civilians, we also have testimony from a CNN correspondent that the military opposition leaders were somehow able to miraculously predict that deaths would occur and that a certain minimum number of deaths would occur. That certainly is remarkable premonition...or plotting. Then we have the illogical nature of an alleged plan by Chavez to kill a number that included his own supporters in a bloodbath that provided support for his kidnapping and near-execution...unless you think that benefits him?As later investigations and documentary films proved, the Chavistas on the bridge probably did not kill anybody. When they were captured on film shooting, they were not firing at the marchers, but at the Metropolitan Police and the snipers who were firing at them. They were defending themselves and the hundreds of unarmed Chavez supporters on the bridge, who were lying facedown on the street to avoid the bullets coming at them - not to launch an "ambush." The Venevision video never showed what the Chavistas were shooting at on Avenida Baralt. It only showed them firing.
As the documentary film Llaguno Bridge - Keys to a Massacre later demonstrated, using videos and digital photographs with the current time recorded, the bulk of the opposition marchers who were killed were shot between 3:20 PM, when Tony Velasquez was wounded, and 3:55 PM. The Chavistas filmed on the bridge did not start shooting until 4:38 PM. Nearly forty-five minutes passed between the two events. But Venevision combined them, to make it seem like the Chavistas had killed the marchers.
There was also another problem with the pronouncement made by navy vice admiral Ramirez and the others. It was taped. Otto Neudstadl, a correspondent with CNN en Espanol, later said at a public conference that when Ramirez and the others summoned him to an office in Caracas earlier in the day to tape the announcement, it was before any shots were fired at the marchers. The military officers seemed to have advance knowledge that people were going to be killed. They even offered a number up to that point: at least six, with dozens injured....[t]he killings begged the question: WHo benefited? Clearly, Chavez did not. But now, with the streets of Caracas bathed in blood and the nation's television screens filled with horrifying reports of the massacre, the opposition had "the political cover to stage a coup" that the CIA reported they lacked five days earlier. Chavez was a cold-blooded murderer. Who could blame the CIA for stepping in and removing him?