home Congress, Cuba, Current Events, Democrats, national security, Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Attacks on Freedom of Speech, Other Rights, Continue in South America

Attacks on Freedom of Speech, Other Rights, Continue in South America

The Republicans may be in the minority, but the minority still has some formidable pivot power points if they wish to exercise minority rights.  There is nothing like a Congressional “hold” to get the attention of would-be appointees and other politicos. And there is no better place to begin than with Western Hemisphere appointments.

The Obama Administration, and its new-found allies in the Organization of American States (OAS), announced this week that it would press for re-admission to the OAS of state sponsor of terrorism Cuba.  This politically premature move goes against U.S. law, ignores U.S. interests, and will hurt opposition leaders and political prisoners that are struggling to create a new future of freedom in Cuba.  This behavior has become par for the course at the OAS in not just Cuba, but for other countries where basic freedoms are under attack including Venezuela and Ecuador.

The independent press has been under attack for quite some time in Venezuela.  Just this week, the last remaining television station critical of autocrat Hugo Chavez, Globovision, has come under direct attack of federal prosecutors. Globovision’s owner Guillermo Zuloaga has been asked to appear in court next week to answer for various unnamed crimes stemming from his other businesses.  Chavez has called Zuloaga a “gangster” who must answer for his crimes. 

Meanwhile in Ecuador a few months ago, autocrat Rafael Correa brazenly shut down national television stations owned by William and Roberto Isaias.  Using the same, seemingly legal procedures implemented in Venezuela, Correa officials took over the television and radio stations, several banks, as well as other businesses.  The Ecuadorean authorities accused the brothers of various crimes including embezzlement of state funds.  Out of fear for their lives, and surely ending up in an Ecuadorean political prison, at least one of the brothers has had to flee the country and is residing in the United States.

What has the Obama Administration said about these and other similar incidents throughout the Americas?  Not a thing.  What has the OAS done to condemn these acts?  Not a thing.  Rather, by seeking Cuba’s re-admission to the OAS, the Obama Administration is granting concessions to law breakers and human rights abusers.   This act sends a clear signal to Venezuela, Ecuador, and other members of the anti-American Bolivarian access that it is ok to use the law to violate rights and institutionalize autocratic regimes.  America will say nothing; why should we?  The Obama Administration seems to be ignoring U.S. law on Cuba as well.

What is truly tragic about all this is that, as usual, it is taking place right under our noses and no one seems to be saying anything about it.  The mainstream media, the DC pundits, and the interest groups, say nothing.   Chalk it up, in part, to curious ambivalence about all things related to the Western Hemisphere.  It is not as sexy as, say, the Middle East region or Europe.  That mindset, however, truly needs to change.  There is a fight for freedom taking place right here in the Americas and folks who need our assistance need more attention focused on these injustices.

There are ways to get the Obama Administration’s attention on these issues starting with the U.S. Congress and the slew of Latin America nominations that have been sent the past week for Senate confirmation.  The Republicans may be in the minority, but the minority still has some formidable pivot power points if they wish to exercise minority rights.  There is nothing like a Congressional “hold” to get the attention of would-be appointees and other politicos.  And there is no better place to begin than with Western Hemisphere appointments.

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