Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sumate under fire Editorial in El Nacional

Translation published here by Miguel Octavio.

Sumate under fire. El Nacional.

The official persecution of the directors of the civil ONG Sumate is reaching its end.

They are accused of conspiring "to alter the Republican order", as if they had tried to implant a monarchy in Venezuela, no more, no less. As if armed with machine guns, rockets, tanks and bombers, they had placed in danger the soundness and continuity of the supposed Bolivarian revolution.

The Government demonstrates with this that is it is not prepared to accept the smallest discrepancies, not the least dissidence, or the most discreet request that the 2006 elections be presided by a National Electoral Council (CNE) that can be trusted. That is what Sumate always asked for, interpreting the large majority of Venezuelans, nothing different, even, to what has been requested by international organizations such as the OAS. Nothing different from the observations made by the hemispheric organization in its report about the elections of December 4th.

There are a few ways to read the trial against Sumate. One of them is the intransigence and the intolerance of the regime. Another one, the wish of taking advantage of the punishment against the directors so that everybody learns the lesson and the requests for more transparent and fair conditions for all citizens cease.

That people shut up out of fear.

The Electoral year projects itself as a year of persecutions and threats, while the officialist train moves at high speed towards December 3d. As dangerous conspirators, the Prosecutor asked the 7th. Court that Maria Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz be tried separately, since others accused, Luis Enrique Palacios and Ricardo Esteves, are being accused of "complicity". But, on top of that, as conspirators of great danger, they should be tried behind bars. No wonder the defense lawyers warn that at the next hearing both Machado as well as Plaz could be jailed.

The defense has denounced a number of irregularities along the process. The accused were not allowed to speak.

The representative from the Prosecutor's office reiterated the request that they be tried in prison, despite the decision by the Supreme Court that forbids it. Thus, not even these formalitities are taken into consideration.

When lawyer Juan Martin Echeverria jr. insisted on speaking, the judge ordered the constables to remove him from the room. If one wants to have an idea how the trial is being carried out, this detail is sufficient. You can guess what the outcome will be.

As stated above, Machado and Plaz are being accused of the crime of conspiracy to "destroy the form of republican politics that the nation has been given" Among the crimes they have been charged with is receiving money from the organization National Endowment for Democracy of the United States. Palacios and Estevez face the same process for the same crime, but as accomplices.

The Prosecutor Ortega Diaz requested the maximum penalty for the crime of conspiracy, 16 years.

This rigor has no precedent in a country where military conspirators (like our President) were judged only by military judges, never suffered sentences of that magnitude and always ended being benefited from measures of pardon. Even in bloody occasions (like February 4th. 1992) in which the uprisings left hundreds of dead. Now that the coup plotters from the Saman de Guere are in power, they see with horror the specter of subversion. They see conspirators even in organizations like Sumate. But the civilians never threatened anyone.

Sumate has acted openly, has accounted for its income and expenses. To say that the meetings of Sumate did not have as their objective electoral training of the citizens but a subversive end, that of overthrowing the Bolivarian regime, is a valid argument only for idiots. One would have to give the Sumate Board an award for those "conspirators" that respect the law: they would be an exception in the history of Venezuela.

And it is this almighty regime, where the military predominates, the most armed, the one that has had the largest resources, the one that feels threatened. It is like one of those tales of Antonio Arraiz where tio Conejo (Uncle Rabbit) makes tio Tigre (Uncle Tiger) run. Unfortunately the question can not be one for being festive, because what is in danger is the freedom of some citizens worthy of esteem that have believed in the perfectibility of our institutions and have advocated for that. You can not condemn them with coarse lies.

Let's defend now justice and let us all reject this absurd trial.

1 comment:

Camilo Pino said...

Chavez accuses SUMATEof treason for receiving US funds trough the National Endowment for Democracy.

On the other hand Nelson Bocaranda, a Venezuelan journalist, just published a list of US based organizations that have received Venezuela’s funds. It is long, and it’s mostly formed by NGOs politically active in the US.

What's good for me it's bad for you.

Here it goes the list:

“Alliance For Global Justice, All-African People's Revolutionary Party, Artist's Network of the Americas, BendCondega Friendship Project, Bolivarian Circle-Oregon, Bolivarian Circle-Washington, DC; Campaign for Labor Rights, Cimarrones Capstone, Howard University Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (Cispes), Cuba Solidarity New York, FMLN-MD, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Fight Back, Friends of the Third World, George Washington Univ. Progressive Students Union, Global Exchange, Global Women's Strike, Gray Panthers of Metro Washington, DC; Green Party of the US: Peace Action Committee, Hands Off Venezuela (HOV), Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana/MAPA, Howard University Student Association, Interconnect, International Action Center, International Socialist Organization (ISO), Iranian Cultural Association Inc., Latin American Solidarity Coalition (LASC), Latin American Students Assn, University of District of Columbia; Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, New Orleans; Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Metro Justice, National Lawyers Guild, National Network on Cuba, Nicaragua Network, No War on Cuba Movement, Ocean Press, Pan-African Roots, People's Hurricane Relief Fund, Philadelphia Cuba Solidarity Coalition, Quixote Center/Quest for Peace, Rochester (NY) Committee on Latin America, Rosewood I.C. Foundation, School of the Americas Watch, US Cuba Sister City Association (PA) and Young Socialists.”