Coro, October 9th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez qualified Venezuela’s review at the United Nation’s (UN) Human Rights Council as “a victory for the truth” this Sunday, after a team of delegates presented the government’s national report on human rights to the UN council.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas Maduro and other Venezuelan delegates arrived in Geneva on Wednesday for the United Nations’ 12th Universal Periodic Review (UPR), in which Venezuela and other countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Syria, were scheduled for review.
“What happened in Geneva was a resounding victory for the truth, a resounding victory for the Bolivarian Revolution and for the Venezuelan people,” commented Chávez.
Every 4 years, each of the UN’s 192 member states is subject to a review of its internal human rights situation, based on a national governmental report and testimonies from a series of human rights experts and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations).
“We’re coming (to Geneva) to tell the truth, on behalf of our people, which are the best witnesses and protagonists of the path that we have been taking, to leave behind the repressive state that killed thousands of people in 1989, which is responsible for the Cantaura and Yumare massacres… We are taking apart that state to consolidate a social and democratic one,” said Maduro, before leaving for Geneva.
During the Venezuelan presentation on Friday afternoon, the Foreign Minister recounted the steady gains made by the Republic’s “peaceful revolution”, including a substantial reduction in poverty. He also highlighted the participatory nature of the Venezuelan human rights report, which had been written with the input of hundreds of the country’s communal councils during a direct consultation process with the Venezuelan population.
Amongst the other delegates speaking on behalf of Venezuela was the Minister for Indigenous Peoples, Nicia Maldonado, who invited representatives to Venezuela in order to “see what the media doesn’t say…how we are constructing a homeland for indigenous peoples, a homeland for afro-descendents”. The President of Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice, Luisa Estela Morales, also addressed the Council, stating that the court was “functionally, financially and technologically independent”.
Despite Morales’ comments, various countries questioned the autonomy and transparency of Venezuela’s judicial system. Whereas 38 out of the 50 countries present were reported to be satisfied with Venezuela’s progress in human rights, countries such as the United States, Israel and France were critical, particularly of an alleged lack of “freedom of expression” and attacks against NGOs in the Caribbean nation.
Whilst “positive suggestions” would be discussed, such as those relating to the penitentiary system and the police force, criticisms of the country’s judiciary system were “removed from reality”, stated Maduro.
“The proposals made with an aggressive spirit and absolute cynicism, from the United States’ and Israeli delegations and their allies which constitute the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), are quite simply a slap in the face to the dignity of our people,” continued the minister.
Prior to the Venezuelan presentation, the President of the UN thanked Maduro for the government’s donation of US$ 38,000 to the UN Trust Fund Against Torture, which was financed by sales from the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra’s concert in Switzerland.
“This gesture is a sign of the union between music, love, youth and liberty, which in conjunction are a perfect symbol of human rights” said a UN representative.
In the 23 page report submitted to the United Nations, the Venezuelan government highlights that the rubric of human rights assumes a broader meaning in Venezuela, and includes many social rights such as; the right to food, legal representation, healthcare, education and culture, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or class. Within the realm of freedom of expression, the document also states that the government has funded over 2,500 community-based media outlets and enacted legislation to ensure responsible broadcasting.
The UPR is now to enter its second week, with countries such as Haiti and Uganda due to present their countries’ reports. The outcome report on Venezuela’s review is scheduled to take place on Tuesday afternoon and will be presented by Guatemala, Burkina Faso and the Czech Republic.