Venezuela Denounces US Report on Human Trafficking

The Venezuelan government rejected yesterday the US report on human trafficking which labeled Venezuela among the world's worst offenders in human trafficking. Venezuela’s Interior Minister accused the U.S. government of trying to damage the image of the government of Hugo Chavez.

By Chris Carlson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Mérida, June 14, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— The Venezuelan government rejected yesterday the US report on human trafficking which labeled Venezuela among the world's worst offenders in human trafficking. Venezuela’s Interior Minister accused the U.S. government of trying to damage the image of the government of Hugo Chavez. The report has been criticized for being soft on US allies while placing many of the US's adversaries on their human trafficking blacklist.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Pedro Carreño responded to the accusations of the US State Department on Wednesday assuring that the Venezuelan government does combat human trafficking in the country. His statements came yesterday in response to Washington's annual Human Trafficking report that placed Venezuela among the 16 worst nations for trafficking and exploitation of labor.

Carreño assured that the report is part of a campaign "to increase uneasiness and uncertainty among the citizens (of Venezuela), making it seem like the Venezuelan government cannot control crime and that it is incapable of reacting."

Carreño also emphasized that the statements of the US State Department have to be understood taking into account the hostility that exists between the Venezuelan government and Washington.

"It is obvious that the politics of the revolutionary Venezuelan government make the implementation of the US imperial plan for Latin America and the Caribbean difficult," said Carreño, assuring that the intention of the US State Department is to "generate a communicational campaign on an international level in order to damage the prestige that president Chavez has."

Carreño also reminded journalists of other accusations against Venezuela, including the drug report that was released last March.

"That's also what they said about drug trafficking," he said. "And that was to manipulate and make people believe that this government is one that collaborates with drug trafficking and also to make people believe that in order to combat drug trafficking it is essential to be allied to that drug cartel known as the DEA."

The report was also criticized by other nations, including the Philippines and Bahrain, and rights groups have accused the State Department reports of being politically motivated. It has been pointed out that, as Reuters reported yesterday, "friendly countries with major trafficking problems such as India were not placed in the worst category, where U.S. antagonists like Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela routinely appear."

The report places Venezuela on the blacklist along with Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Uzbekistan as countries "whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards" set by American law and "are not making significant efforts to do so." The United States also added several new countries to the list including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Quatar, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Malaysia. The countries on the list are subject to sanctions if, in Washington's judgment, they do not do enough to stop trafficking in their countries.

In addition to rejecting the US accusations, the Venezuelan Minister of the Interior also insisted that the Venezuelan government is working to fight crime and human trafficking and assured that government policies "have reduced" the crime rate.

"When we consult the statistics for crimes committed in the country, we see that they are declining in a substantial way," said the minister, assuring that the government will continue its efforts to reduce crime and insecurity in the country.

"We will keep working, day to day. With consistency and perseverance we will continue our work of state policies and strategies to reduce the crime rate," he explained.

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