A Chancellor’s Meeting: Ignorance, Servitude or Hypocrisy?
In February 8 2016, international news showed a meeting held between Mexico’s chancellor, Claudia Ruiz Massieu and Leopoldo Lopez’s (from the Venezuelan opposition) wife, Lilian Tintori, as well as his mother Antonieta Mendoza. This action, as so does happen with this type of foreign policy events, didn’t wait to create a series of responses, especially from Venezuela’s chancellor, Delcy Rodríguez, who publicly rejected and pointed out the hypocrisy of the issue.
The timing is not strange for this event to take place given the fact that, now that the opposition has the majority in the Venezuelan Parliament, one of their principal porpoises is to pass the Amnesty Law to free Leopoldo López from jail as the first step to complete their final goal to perpetuate a parliamentary coup d’ État against President Nicolas Maduro. This has given Tintori the option to appear publicly and travel like a rockstar.
But to explain the title of this essay it’s necessary to take steps to explain some definitions of words that have been used in a fashionable but erroneous way as well as some events that like to be taken out of context depending of the interests involving them. For this purpose, it’s necessary to be reminded of the power of the means of communication and how, the majority of times, it influences masses without the utilization of the truth.
So, the first words that need defining are “political prisoner”, given that it has been the favorite adjective that right wing, neoliberal countries and means of communication have given to Leopoldo López. Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and Thesaurus defines it as “someone who is put in prison for expressing disapproval of their own government, or for belonging to an organization, race or social group not approved by the government”.
Now, even though that’s what’s being sold, it’s not the real reason why López has been sentenced. The crimes imputed were crimes of intentional fire, public instigation, damages to public property and association to commit crime. This, of course, does not count previous crimes that he has committed years earlier like deviation of public resources and others when he was mayor of Chacao.
Of course one can think that the majority of political prisoners are given made up crimes by those who imprison them. But in this case, the actions were clear as crystal when López called for the destabilization of the newly elected government by violent means and by the implementation of the so called “guarimbas” (random road blocks) where citizens that sympathized with the government were beaten or even killed. 43 people were murdered and dozens injured by this movement of “guarimbas” organized by Leopoldo López. Even a social association called “Victims of the Guarimbas” was created by those family members who lost someone during this violent process led by López and the radical far right and now claim for justice.
Given Lopez’s information (and lots more that exists in other sources of information), his title of “political prisoner” loses any validation even more when the victims of the orchestrated violence were civilians. The classification of the acts and casualties can be even catalogued as terrorist. But, even though this actions were taking place at the time, the international media was making the dirty campaign of “Pray for Venezuela”, praising the perpetrators and blaming the newly elected government chosen by the majority of the people.
At this point, it seems necessary to bring up another definition: “dictator” (don’t worry, we will get back to the title of the article after the necessary feedback). And it’s important because that word is loved by some north-American politics to describe country leaders that refuse to be pets for their interests, as well as for radical right wing opposition like the one Leopoldo López forms part of.
The Oxford’s Advanced Learners Dictionary defines “dictator” as a “ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force”. By this, the adjective that is often imputed to the Venezuelan president lacks of veracity. First of all, what kind of dictator obtains power by democratic elections (one of the most observed in the world, by the way)? What type of dictator has the opposition governing the districts they democratically won? What kind of “absolute power” is implemented when the so called “dictator” recognizes when the opposition wins the majority of Congress (like just happened last month), and can’t take action without the majority’s approval? What kind of dictator is below the national Constitution? What kind of dictator is chosen by the majority of his people? None. The term is applied ridiculously. But then again, the same thing has been said of other Latin American presidents like Rafael Correa in Ecuador (who recently won the re-election by more than 70%), Evo Morales in Bolivia (who also won democratically) and many other progressive leaders.
So now we can come back to the theme of the title. As so is, foreign affairs are filled with important symbologies that define the conduct of one country to the others. Before the year 2000, the Mexican government would of never accepted a meeting between the Chancellor and Tintori under the principle of non intervention and free determination of the people that applied under the Estrada Doctrine of foreign policy. But since then, Mexico started working more actively in the international scenario.
Hypocrisy has been present in the international policy of many countries. Nonetheless, Mexico has been professional in the matter. In the seventies when we condemned Pinochet’s coup d’ État in Chile, the massacre he lead and accepted Chilean refugees, the “Guerra Sucia” (Dirty War) was still happening in The country, in which hundreds of social leaders, opposed to the regime, were being murdered and put in jail. When we talked about progress some years before, hundreds (or thousands) of students were massacred in 1968 before we hosted the Olympics.
More recently, Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto declared that our government will send personnel to the UN peacekeeping missions when his government has been catalogued by State massacres like Ayotzinapa (where 43 students were killed by federal forces), Ostula, Tlatlaya, and others. Just last presidency’s toll was of 120,000 deaths because of the illegal “war” against drug cartels (many innocent deaths) and, in this administration, the death toll per year has not reduced.
The New York Times, two years ago, published an edition in which President Peña Nieto appeared in the cover under the legend of “Saving Mexico” written by @CrowleyTime. The effect of the action was the indignation from the Mexican people and rumors, as well as articles on the web, that denounced a top dollar payment to the author from the Mexican government to publish such lie. This is also, Mexico’s government foreign policy.
Now that the Chancellor, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, met with López’s wife and mother, she didn’t agree to meet with the family of a criminal (as is in real life), but to meet with the family of the “political prisoner” that makes an effort to illegitimize a legitimate government. At the same time, Claudia Ruiz Massieu forgets who she works for and the truth about her country. Is it ignorance or hypocrisy?
Could it be that she really doesn’t know about the history of Leopoldo Lopez’s activities in the Venezuelan radical right wing? Or could it be that she is not familiarized with the electoral process of Maduro vs Capriles where, after the right wing demanded a vote recount which was granted and demonstrated a larger difference of results in favor of the PSUV, the moderate right wing, as well as the candidate, recognized the results, which, by the contrary, when in Mexico’s fraudulent elections of 2006 the people demanded a vote recount, this was negated and the ballot boxes were burnt in 2012 to get rid of the evidence? Because, if she knows all this, what would make her take actions that, not only intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs, but also shows support to the radical minority that caused chaos and murder in that country?
The Mexican Chancellor receives the family of a criminal posing as a “political prisoner”. She forgets that, just in this presidency, over 350 real political prisoners have been put in jail. Some defending their right to own land, some defending their townspeople against drug cartels that the government has been ineptly and curruptly unable to protect, some protecting their indigenous rights, culture and autonomy, some criticizing government corruption and many other motives.
NOTE: In the following link there is a long and incomplete list of political prisoners in Mexico made from the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights: http://www.nodo50.org/comitecerezo/presos.htm
The government that Claudia Ruiz Massieu serves is not one to talk about the respect of human rights. Enrique Peña Nieto’s long history of repression and violation of essential rights begins long before he became President of Mexico. When he was Governor of the State of Mexico he used federal forces to repress the indigenous people of San Salvador Atenco that opposed to give up their rightful land for the ambitious project of the construction of an airport. The consequences of this action was of over 200 detentions where even minors were detained, the rape of dozens of women by state forces, and the murder and the deaths of a 14 year old child and a 20 year old student.
Another fact of the current government happened in October of last year when the UN’s High Commissioner of Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, reported, after a long investigation realized in Mexico, that torture and enforced disappearances are one of the major concerns that of the country as well as the urgent need of protection for reporters and Human Rights defenders.
It’s illogical that a chancellor employed by a President that in four years has had over 300 political prisoners, that committed State crimes as Governor and as Executive, that received the UN’s report mentioned above and, between other pitiful things, won the electoral process by a huge amount of cheats that included buying votes and trafficking with poverty, would intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs and symbolically illegitimize a legitimate government, giving false titles of “political prisoner” to a criminal of the radical right wing. Is it because of ignorance, servitude or hypocrisy?
I dedicate this article to Mexico’s political prisoners, those who are or were tortured or murdered for defending their basic rights against a corrupt and repressive State. Those who are still in prison and those who were set free by human rights defenders. Also, I dedicate this to the reporters that were and are being killed in our country for writing the truth as well as human rights activists. Even though there are famous political prisoners known internationally still in prison, I can’t dedicate this words to them individually because it would make a bigger shadow for the ones that are not famous and are also paying for their struggle or their innocence.