Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Venezuela Continues Violating Free Speech

The Nicolas Maudro government continues to shatter the notion of a free press in Venezuela.  Like an ostrich, if one can't see what is going on, presumably, it can't be happening.  Yet, the protests continue, the midnight raids continue, the violation of basic human rights continues in the South American nation that was the poster-child for a vibrant society under the former leader, Hugo Chavez.

Disaffected citizens who voiced their concerns have been answered with a barrage of buck shot and clouds of tear gas.  Reporters have been silenced and thrown out of the country, as if to silence the press silences the abuses to free thinking and free talking people.  

While a government has an obligation to maintain peace, it also has an obligation to treat all citizens with respect and with dignity, even those who disagree with the government.  Citizens arrested say respect has been paid in the form of male rape via the hot barrel of a rifle, indictments against students whose real crime was to speak out, and midnight trials of people who were not advised of the charges against them sooner than minutes before they were forced to defend themselves.  This is the place where Nicolas Maduro has taken the vision Hugo Chavez left for the country.

Free speech, free press and an active opposition are signs of a free society.  Remove them, as has happened in Venezuela, and the ostrich may dip her head, but the problems and opposition continues.  Eventually, the society erupts and a change of leadership is demanded.  Embrace free thinking and opposition and all people win by an enriched dialogue, where no one gets everything they want, but no one loses everything they want, either.

Venezuela is a country that will be the poster-child of Latin America.  The only question left is whether that poster-child will be one of reform and a free society, or one of repression by a newly elected and cruel dictator.

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