VIO News Blog

December 9, 2008

Ingrid Betancourt Thanks Chavez for His Generosity and Love

“We owe the first step to President Chavez,” Ingrid Betancourt said yesterday, speaking about the release of hostages by Colombia’s FARC rebels. In a press conference that was not covered in much of the English-language media, she said she wanted to “thank [President Chavez] personally for his commitment, his generosity, his love, his care, and all that he invested in working to achieve our liberation.”

The AP reports that the former FARC captive met with President Chavez yesterday (see image at right) as the final stop on a tour of the region to thank leaders for their support and urge more action. Chavez’s humanitarian mediation in Colombia this year freed six people — including three U.S. citizens — before it was curtailed by Colombian leaders.

A Houston Chronicle report on the armed forces in Venezuela makes a number of tenuous assertions. It claims the country’s new Military Reserves and Territorial Guard are almost exclusively at the service of President Chavez, and are “designed to protect the Venezuelan leader from internal strife.” Meanwhile, it later points out that the forces answer to a national commander, not the President. The armed forces in Venezuela do not repress demonstrations, and are required under the constitution to uphold human rights. Chavez’s own opposition to the military repression he witnessed as a young serviceman during the 1989 “Caracazo” massacre helped to inspire his political project emphasizing humanism.

Finally, another ruling came in the case of Venezuelan men accused of acting as unregistered foreign agents. The AP reports that “Suitcasegate” continued yesterday with a 15-month jail sentence for the second man to be convicted by U.S. prosecutors. Many experts consider the trial a political move by the U.S. against the Venezuelan government, but this fact is often ignored by the media.

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