베네수엘라에서는 지난 3월에만 적어도 세 명의 반정부 인사들이 정부를 비판을 했다는 이유로 체포됐다.
3월 22일 오스왈도 알바레즈 파즈(Oswaldo Álvarez Paz) 줄리아(Zulia)주 전 주지사가 ‘베네수엘라는 이제 마약밀매자들 의 천국이 됐다’는 발언을 한 후 체포됐다.
또 국회 의장이자 차베스 대통령의 비판자로 잘 알려진 윌메르 아주아제(Wilmer Azuaje)가 같은 달 25일에 체포된 데 이어, 정부에 비판적인 논조를 유지해 온 글로보비시온(Globovisión) TV 방송국의 기예르모 술로아가(Guillermo Zuloaga) 사장 또한 우고 차베스 대통령을 모욕하고 거짓 정보를 유포함 혐의로 체포됐다 풀려났다.
최근 몇 년간 베네수엘라 정부는 정부 비판자들을 침묵하게 하기 위해 법적인 수단을 사용하는 경향을 보여왔다. 법이 정부가 정치적인 의도로 만든 혐의를 정당화하기 위해 이용되고 있으며, 이는 베네수엘라 정부가 비판자들을 ‘표적 공격’하고 있음을 가리킨다.
국제앰네스티 미주국(局) 과달루프 마렌고(Guadalupe Marengo) 부국장은 “반정부인사에 대한 혐의는 이들을 침묵하게 하고, 다른 이들이 공개적인 비판을 하지 못하도록 하기 위한 정치적인 행위”라고 지적했다. 국제앰네스티는 정부와 다른 생각을 하거나 정부를 비판하는 이들이 정부의 표적 돼서는 안 된다고 주장하며, 베네수엘라 정부에 반정부인사들에 대한 기소 중지를 요구했다.
Venezuelan government deliberately targeting opponents
Thursday 1 April 2010 At least three individuals seen as opposed to President Hugo Chávez were arrested and charged in March alone. Amnesty International urged the Venezuelan authorities to stop targeting government critics following a series of politically motivated arrests.
At least three individuals seen as opposed to President Hugo Chávez were arrested and charged in March alone.
“Charges brought for political reasons against critics are being used to silence dissent and prevent others from speaking out,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
“President Chavez must stop persecuting those who think differently or speak out against his government.”
Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, former governor of the state of Zulia, was arrested on 22 March after he said in an interview that Venezuela had become a haven for drug trafficking and citing accusations by a Spanish court that the government supports armed opposition groups. He is currently being held in the Helicoide, headquarters of the national intelligence services.
Wilmer Azuaje, parliamentary deputy and a critic of President Chávez, was arrested on 25 March. He was accused of reportedly insulting and hitting a woman police officer. He has since then been released but faces prosecution.
Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of TV station Globovisión, was arrested on 25 March and charged with disseminating false information and insulting the President in statements that he made during a recent Inter American Press Association meeting in Aruba. He has since been released but also faces prosecution.
In December 2009, Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni was arrested and charged with complicity in the escape of a former banker because she ordered his release.
Richard Blanco, a member of an opposition party, was arrested in August 2009 and charged with inciting and injuring a police officer during a demonstration.
The evidence against him is based on video footage from the demonstration. To Amnesty International’s knowledge there is no evidence in these videos of Richard Blanco inciting violence or injuring a police officer.
Over recent years the Venezuelan government appears to have established a pattern of clamping down on dissent through the use of legislative and administrative methods to silence and harass critics. Laws are being used to justify what essentially seems to be politically motivated charges, which would indicate that the Venezuelan government is deliberately targeting opponents.
The Inter American Commission of Human Rights has stated that the arrest of Guillermo Zuloaga “evidences the lack of independence of the judiciary and the utilization of the criminal justice system to punish criticism, producing an intimidating effect that extends to all of society.”
Following the detention of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni UN experts said that “Reprisals for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed functions and creating a climate of fear among the judiciary and lawyers’ profession serve no purpose except to undermine the rule of law and obstruct justice.”
In January, after the RCTV and other TV channels were suspended from broadcast the European Parliament stated that “The ‘National Telecommunications Commission’ should show itself to be independent of the political and economic authorities and ensure equitable pluralism”.