State Department blasts Venezuela on human rights, drugs
Venezuela and Bolivia Feb. 26 condemned the new US State Department human rights report that singles out the two South American countries, saying Washington has no right to pass judgment. The government of President Hugo Chávez said it categorically rejects the report, which cited a politicized judiciary and harassment of Venezuela's political opposition and the news media. Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the report is "plagued with lies." He added: "No government in the world has the right to use a report to meddle in, judge or qualify the situation in other nations."
Bolivia also took issue with the report, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which found the Bolivian government generally respected human rights but cited abuses by security forces, harsh prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and threats to legal rights and press freedoms. "It's a gross simplification of the national reality that is politically motivated," said Sacha Llorenti, a vice minister and government liaison to Bolivian social movements. Llorenti implied the US lacks moral authority to raise such criticisms: "We also think it's important to have sufficient moral principles to be able to talk about the subject of human rights." (AP, Feb. 26)
The State Department also released its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report this week. The report identifies 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan, as "major" producers and transit points for illegal drugs. Of those, Bolivia, Burma and Venezuela are said to have "failed demonstrably" to adhere to international counter-narcotics agreements. (VOA, Feb. 27)
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