More than 100 countries are celebrating that the U.N. General Assembly voted for dictatorships to become members of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in the next two years. Democracies have been defeated again, and from now on, Venezuela, Mauritania and Sudan will join more dictatorships in the shameful HRC. All three countries are serial violators of human rights. Slavery is still alive in Mauritania. Sudan is experiencing a reign of terror. Both will judge human rights.
Though outrageous, it is unsurprising that Venezuela has secured a seat in the HRC. It will be an excellent shelter for Maduro to hide the ongoing violation of all human rights in Venezuela. Venezuela got its seat through lobbying by Russia and Cuba and the global support of the Non-Aligned countries - a very peculiar name these days, when at the end of the day they are only aligned to dictators.
Less than a month ago, the high commissioner for human rights, former Chilean President Michele Bachelet, denounced more than seven thousand killings in Venezuela and an ongoing violation of human rights against civilians. It looks like a contradiction that a month later, Venezuela is seated in the HRC.
Well, it is not. Hypocrisy usually is associated with these political movements. The high commissioner told the truth: Venezuela is a dictatorship that violates human rights. On the other hand, seats in U.N. agencies are the result of negotiations and bargaining. And Venezuela will be a safe vote for those powers that backed its seating in the HRC.
The high commissioner has asked for an investigation on the ground in Venezuela into killings, illegal imprisonments and hunger. Maduro insulted Mrs. Bachelet by not accepting any U.N. mission and now, a month after the request, he has received total impunity with Venezuela’s membership in the HRC.
The political alliances made by Venezuela in the last 20 years with Iran, Russia and the Arab League have brought these results: Venezuela is a dictatorship and there is no international system able to stop it. Venezuela’s alliances create a clear and present danger across Latin America; Hezbollah has free access to everywhere in the region that allows entry to Venezuelan passports. Argentina and Paraguay have established that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, but no other country has yet dared to follow them. And when we watch hesitation from the vast majority of Latin American countries to condemn terrorism clearly, the danger becomes greater.
Social unrest is advancing these days in several South American countries. Chile is experiencing ongoing protests with thousands of people rallying in the streets. There has been destruction of public buildings and the Santiago metro. The unrest is not being calmed down either by the government or by the other political parties, and the future is uncertain. Bolivia has had elections, but the opposition does not accept the results and there is violence in the streets. Venezuela always supports unrest in other Latin American countries. Its government has publicly celebrated violence in the streets, no matter which country is going through that violence.
Each country has its own problems, and there is no doubt that many Latin American countries have a lot of unrest. The Venezuelan dictatorship always claims that it will not accept interference and that Venezuela will solve its problems. But Maduro and his ministers want to intervene in other countries. If any country and its government are weak enough to succumb to any sort of intervention, Iranian influence and the threat Hezbollah poses will spread more and more.
Latin American countries will be able to keep democracy in the countries where there are still serious democracies if the international community reacts and stops forgetting what is happening on a continent of 600 million people. If indifference prevails, as is happening now, regimes like the Venezuelan or Cuban governments will be replicated. And if this happens, it will be too late to go back.
Eduardo Kohn, Ph.D., has been the B’nai B’rith executive vice president in Uruguay since 1981 and the B’nai B’rith International Director of Latin American Affairs since 1984. Before joining B'nai B'rith, he worked for the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, the Israel-Uruguay Chamber of Commerce and Hebrew College in Montevideo. He is a published author of “Zionism, 100 years of Theodor Herzl,” and writes op-eds for publications throughout Latin America. He graduated from the State University of Uruguay with a doctorate in diplomacy and international affairs. To view some of his additional content, click here.
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