Venezuela - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates Print

2010 Encuentro Country Updates


Fundación Latinoamericana Por Los Derechos Humanos y El Desarrollo Social

What is the situation of militarization in your country, with emphasis on how it is related to the United States?

In April 2002, a coup occurred in Venezuela, in which the actors had a decisive military influence from the United States government, without getting to the point of an outright invasion as in Panama or Grenada.

During the coup a few factors played a major role, such as the international and private mass media, business and labor sectors, and nongovernmental organizations financed by U.S. agencies, with military participants within the Venezuelan armed forces and also receiving logistical support from U.S. forces stationed at foreign bases.

We see a military vision not only consisting of an invading force, but also what is called a "fourth generation war" in which the media is used as a weapon of war.  We see this in covert operations, such as the use of snipers in buildings who, at the most propitious time, shoot to kill protesters, both supporters of the government and of the opposition, to generate a matrix of opinion justifying the coup d'état by attributing the crimes to the government and thereby uplifting the military coup leaders.

How have you all dealt with these issues? What has been your experience with resistance - good decisions, errors, and weaknesses?

Interpreting the question as the experience of our communities of IDHES and FUNDALATIN in resistance to militarism in terms of human rights, one could say:

We seeks to create a culture of peace with analysis of the reality as much in radio programs as in newspaper articles, training events and dialogue with diverse communities, as well as publications and messages that can be disseminated through press releases and websites.

A relevant experience with this sort of resistance came in the form of our support for the Attorney General's appointment of Father Juan Vives, together with Father José Ignacio Arrieta, as special representatives for the investigations of deaths in the events of April 11, 2002. In that experience, with a plan of action, a report was formulated that effected a very important counter to the media matrix that reported these deaths as caused by the government.

The effort to create a new vision for security and defense-and one that is not opposed to defending human rights-is also very important. This notion is stressed in the concept of Homeland Security of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela . 1999 (Article 326).

What actions can we take together to confront this situation, and thereby contribute to a culture of peace and sovereignty in our countries?

Support the good will efforts of the social movements in the world to achieve a substantial change in the vision of international relations. Move from a pragmatic view, of taking the resources that a country deems necessary according to who has more military and economic power, to international relationships with ethical perspectives, such as those raised in the Earth Charter formulated by the team of Leonardo Boff and presented in his speech to the UN under the chairmanship of Fr. Miguel D Escoto in April 2009. Just as the People's Summit arose from the Cochabamba meeting this year, we will plant the final Message here [at the Encuentro].

How does militarization affect the human rights situation?

With the Doctrine of National Security that drove the military regimes of the 1970s and 1980s, militarization, in the name of defending the Christian West against the Socialist East, brought about a massive violation of human rights-the right to life just as much as the social rights such as health, education, housing, jobs.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 produced a geopolitical shake-up, and neo-liberallism appeared to be consolidating itself. However, that same year, in February, there was social upheaval in Venezuela when the government of Carlos Andres Perez signed and implemented the measures of the International Monetary Fund. (Something that we can see today in Greece with the social upheavals that are shaking Europe). The response of the government of Carlos Andres Perez was to use the army to repress the people: this was called the Caracazo. Such a vision is that of empires.  From there many soldiers, with Bolivar's words in mind-"damned is the soldier who fires on his own people"-became crucial for the following events in Venezuela.

Hence, the new vision of the concept of national security in the 1999 Constitution understands security to include attention to the people in regards to their basic needs and in defense of human rights. Hence the social missions that are born with military logistic support to serve the people, not suppress them.

This may be key in a moment of epochal change in that security, which is also a human right, requires us to rethink things with a global consciousness. To rethink the ecological threats of global warming, so as to be able to deal with them in Cancun at year's end; to rethink the threats to the financial system, or the actions of transnational corporations such as BP, and the obstacles to peace that come from fundamentalist and imperialist attitudes. Here are common challenges in building a global vision of security that protects both human rights and the rights of mother earth.