Venezuela Calls U.S. Report on Human Trafficking “Cynical”

Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations Arevalo Mendez dismissed a recent U.S. report on trafficking of humans as “cynical,” and accused Washington of "immorality" for criticizing other countries for abuses also committed and promoted there

“The U.S. government, delegitimized in the eyes of the international community, should not criticize others,” said Venezuela’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations, Arevalo Mendez.
Credit: Venpres

Caracas, Jun 19 ( Last Monday, the U.S. State Department issued its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, accusing 10 nations, including Venezuela, of not doing enough to stop the trafficking of thousands of people forced into servitude or the sex trade every year.

The State Department placed Venezuela on its lowest, “Tier 3,” list of countries that may face unilateral U.S. sanctions for “not fully comply with the minimum standards (according to U.S. law) and are not making significant efforts to do so.”

The other nations mentioned were Bangladesh, Burma, Cuba, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, North Korea, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.  The sanctions, if applied may include the withholding of U.S. aid that is not for humanitarian or trade purposes. U.S. president Bush has the right to waive the sanctions.

The report has generated some controversy in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez will be facing a recall referendum scheduled for August 15. Venezuelan officials have mentioned the U.S. presidential election as a factor in what they call are U.S. government attacks against Chavez. Presidential candidate John Kerry has accused president George W. Bush of not doing enough with regard to the Venezuelan political situation.

According to the report, “Venezuela is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Brazilian and Colombian women and girls are trafficked to and through Venezuela. Venezuelans are trafficked internally for the domestic sex trade and to Western Europe, particularly Spain.”

The report also says that “the Government of Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.”

Venezuelan officials dismissed the report as part of a U.S. government campaign to discredit the Chavez administration as the recall referendum approaches.

“We understand that the electoral campaign both in Venezuela and the United States, forces U.S. authorities to act the way they are acting,” said Arevalo Mendez, Venezuela’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations. Mendez said that although U.S. authorities are somewhat perplexed by Chavez’s acceptance of the recall referendum against him, “a scenery not expected by them,” the report is an act of cowardice.

“This new aggression fits into the same campaign that led the U.S. to support the criminal coup d’etat of 2002, the oil industry sabotage, the electoral fraud, and the violent street protests known as guarimbas,” Mendez said.

“We denounce once again that the United States is using the delicate issue of Human Rights as a pretext to coerce, delegitimize o impose unilateral sanctions, instead of using the tools of international right. Venezuela is a signer of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. Such Convention has not been ratified by them [the U.S.], and instead of respecting the multilateral instruments, the try to utilize their own laws in an unilateral manner in order to impose their will on other countries,” said the official.

Mendez said that the trafficking of humans is an international problem that is more prevalent in developed countries. “It is ironic that the U.S. is pretending to accuse others, when it is one of the countries that have achieved the least in that matter,” he said. “An important part of that trafficking enters through Miami, practically converting the South of Florida into a distribution hub. Once there, the victims are sent to exquisite markets of high demand such as Atlanta, New, San Francisco and Los Angeles,” he added.

The official said that the U.S. government “delegitimized in the eyes of the international community” should not criticize others for violations that also occur in their country, where prostitution and narcotraffic is promoted and financed. “Writer Michael Moore should be read more,” he said.

“The numbers on prostitution, illegal traffic of all kinds, and the permanent violation of human rights in the U.S. and against other nations, places the U.S. government between the permanent violation of those rights, cynicism and arrogance,” said the official.

“Has Colin Powell forgotten that 7% of U.S. agricultural workers are between 10 and 17 years old, and that come mostly from the trafficking of people?,” he asked.

Dementia in the White House

According to Mendez, most of the world’s sexual tourists come form the United States and many of them have been condemned for sexual abuses to children in different countries. He said that it is cynical to accuse other countries of violating women’s rights when “the horrors of Iraqi jails, where young people of both genders have been raped, clearly show that dementia has taken over the White House.”

Mendez said the that the U.S. has been accused by Human Rights organizations as the biggest producer of child pornography, and questioned “the morals of a regime that watches perplexed how its youth gets killed in schools and neighborhoods.”

The vice-minister questioned the U.S. practice of the death penalty to those who committed crimes while being minors, and the U.S. refusal to sign the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been supported by 192 countries, including Venezuela.

He added that the U.S. has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the Inter American Convention Against Terrorism, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. “This situation places the U.S. in a state of international marginality, as they don’t feel obligated to answer before humanity for their demential and genocidal conduct,” he concluded.

Ambassador Reacts

Venezuelan Ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, also criticized the report and said that Venezuela rejects the notion of one country becoming the judge of others, and not accepting being judged.

Alvarez said that since a year and a half ago he has been requesting concrete proof from the U.S. government of Venezuelan alleged collaboration with Colombian guerrillas, but that he has received no formal response.

The Ambassador criticized that those types of reports, fuzzy statements and rumors against the Venezuelan government are used by non-democratic sectors of Venezuela’s opposition to President Chavez and the media in order to question the legitimacy of the Venezuelan government.

Alvarez highlighted Venezuela’s achievements in the fight against terrorism, and that Venezuela has the best record in the capture of illegal drug shipments in the hemisphere.

“The acceptance of the upcoming recall referendum leaves without arguments those who outside Venezuela have said that Venezuela’s democracy is threatened, and that in spite of the government been democratically elected, non-constitutional ways of replacing the government are justified,” said Avarez.