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April 5, 2010
Something's Rotten in Caracas
Vaclav Havel notes the arrest of the former Chief Justice of Venezuela by Hugo Chavez for having supported an investigation into the government's support of the Colombian terrorists FARC:
The arrest of Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, a former president of Venezuela's Chamber of Deputies, governor of the Venezuelan state of Zulia, and presidential candidate, should concern the entire world because it demonstrates just how far President Hugo Chávez's regime is willing to stray from democratic norms. Standing silent as democracy atrophies in Venezuela is now not only immoral, but is becoming increasingly dangerous for all of Venezuela's people.
Álvarez Paz has a worldwide reputation for being an honourable man devoted to democratic principles. He has bravely sought to alert the world to the persecution that opponents of Chávez and his regime constantly suffer, as well as to the decline of democracy in his country over the decade of Chávez's rule. Indeed, his arrest on 22 March is compelling evidence of the truth of his testimony about the regime's nature, and of the danger that it poses to Venezuelans, whose freedoms apparently are being systematically stripped, and to Latin American more broadly, owing to Chávez's example to other would-be autocrats.