Close to 25,000 people a year are murdered in Venezuela. Not only does this South American country have one of the highest murder rates of all of Latin America, but what is even more shocking is that overwhelming majority of these crimes become cold cases or, simply, ignored. There is also the longer term and negative impact that results from this sort of lawlessness, erosion of the rule of law to the point that society regresses to the point of a Lord of the Flies existentence.
A well-known American lawyer and ex pat, John Pate, was brutally murdered yesterday at his home by a criminal gang who broke into his apartment. According to preliminary news reports, the assailants were trying to carrying out a kidnapping. Whatever the case may be, Pate’s death must not become just another statistic. By all accounts as well as peer recognition, he was committed to Venezuela, its people, and despite the odds against him, believed that through rule of law Venezuelans could, eventually, return to democratic rules.
Left-wing governments throughout the Western Hemisphere do not respect for human rights, or much less, the rule of law. Left-wing dictators remain engaged in a quixotic campaign that includes advancing socialism and communism, destroying any vestiges of freedom and individual liberty. Legions steal from the people and destroy countries that used to be on the path to democratic rule.
Rule of law is a toxin to these people. The law is one more tool to be abused to advance and justify their cause. They will not stop. It is a Lord of the Flies existence. This is a natural result of this disordered ideology that we thought the Cold War had buried once and for all. The Venezuela opposition, and the people of Venezuela, are paying a high price for Cuban-Venezuelan left-wing terrorism.
It is not clear right now if Mr. Pate’s murder was politically motivated. However, if it was, the United States should do a lot more than issue perfunctory statements of condolence. Knowing what I know of Mr. Pate’s work in Venezuela – although not an opposition or political person, he was an ardent supporter of free markets and rule of law – if he was targeted because of his profession or political beliefs then, at minimum, a Magnitsky-like response of targeted sanctions is warranted.
Pate is the second high-profile lawyer murdered in South America this year. The first was Alberto Nisman, the dogged hunter of Iranian terrorists and their Argentine collaborators wanted for terrorist attacks carried out in Argentina a few years before 09.11.01. Is it open season on lawyers? Probably not, however, it is not a good political omen for regional security and stability.
By the time the bad guys and gals attack the lawyers and police, the system is already seriously broken, rotting to the core. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people, this year alone, are also victims of left-wing government lawlessness. The U.S. and others in the region, can do better to stem the rising tide of tyrannical rule, especially governments that are democratic republics in name only.