Hugo Chavez expels rights group, proves their point

JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images Hugo Chávez didn’t agree with Human Rights Watch’s assessment of Venezuela’s fall from democratic ways, released in a 230-page report today. He didn’t agree that he has “undermined freedom of expression,” or that he has undertaken an “aggressively adversarial approach to local rights advocates.” So, with no apparent sense of irony, he ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
592486_080919_hrw5.jpg
592486_080919_hrw5.jpg

JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

Hugo Chávez didn't agree with Human Rights Watch's assessment of Venezuela's fall from democratic ways, released in a 230-page report today. He didn't agree that he has "undermined freedom of expression," or that he has undertaken an "aggressively adversarial approach to local rights advocates."

So, with no apparent sense of irony, he kicked out the Americas director of HRW, José Miguel Vivanco (shown here leaving a press conference in Caracas).

JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

Hugo Chávez didn’t agree with Human Rights Watch’s assessment of Venezuela’s fall from democratic ways, released in a 230-page report today. He didn’t agree that he has “undermined freedom of expression,” or that he has undertaken an “aggressively adversarial approach to local rights advocates.”

So, with no apparent sense of irony, he kicked out the Americas director of HRW, José Miguel Vivanco (shown here leaving a press conference in Caracas).

Chávez’s Ministry of Foreign Relations, quoted in the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, said in a statement that Human Rights Watch had illegally intervened in Venezuela’s sovereignty. But more importantly, he called the organization an agent for the interests of the United States government, “cloaked in the robes of defending human rights, deploying an unacceptable strategy of aggression.” 

Alrighty then! According to Human Rights Watch, that’s pretty much the standard Chávez reaction when he senses criticism a-brewin’. Clearly, they are on to something.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.