Venezuela has crossed the rubicon from democracy to totalitarianism. President Hugo Chavez has criminalized opinions. Thoughtcrime finally has become reality.
Former Zulia Governor Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, a very senior figure in the Christian Democrat Copei party and an elder statesman of Venezuelan democracy, was arrested the night of 22 March by agents of President Hugo Chavez’s new Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin).
A criminal court ordered his detention on charges of disseminating false information, instigating hate and fear, conspiracy, and potentially even treason against the nation if government prosecutors wish to go that far. Alvarez Paz is being held at Sebin’s Helicoide headquarters, formerly the headquarters of the Interior & Justice Ministry’s political police (Disip).
The criminal charges against Alvarez Paz are based entirely on remarks he made on 8 March during an appearance on Globovision’s “Alo Ciudadano” opinion program, which always is balanced, objective and deservedly critical of the Chavez regime.
Briefly, Alvarez Paz expressed his opinion that the Chavez regime was doing a very poor job of fighting drug trafficking and terrorism. Very few (mostly Chavez and gang) would disagree with that opinion. There is an abundant and always growing public record of the Chavez regime’s official and unofficial (i.e. criminal) alliances with the FARC, ETA and other bad state and non-state actors. ETA’s top man in Latin America works in the security department at the National Lands Institute (INTI); a Basque terrorist in Venezuela actively sought by Spain’s judiciary is serving the Bolivarian revolution with a badge and a weapon.
Alvarez Paz said what he thought a week after a Spanish court issued an arrest warrant against 13 FARC and ETA members on charges that they conspired in Venezuelan territory to assassinate Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez, former President Andres Pastrana, and former Foreign Minister Noemi Sanin in Spain. The indictment also charges that they cross-trained each other in the manufacture of homemade explosive devices, mortars and urban terrorism tactics. The indictment also states that some meetings in Venezuela between the FARC and ETA were facilitated with the help of some officials in the Chavez regime’s intelligence services.
Indisputably, all this is public record. Alvarez Paz, like any other Venezuelan protected by the Constitution of Venezuela, had every right to express his opinions about an issue of critical national importance. However, for saying what he thinks, Alvarez Paz was slapped with criminal charges that could send him to prison for up to 16 years if convicted. Reportedly, the court also ordered that he must remain under arrest until the investigation and trial conclude, which could take years if the regime wishes.
Interior & Justice Minister Tarek al-Assaimi claims that President Chavez did not give orders that Alvarez Paz be arrested and jailed indefinitely.
The Minister said, “No one can stand here and defame, lie through a news media without anything happening. This individual states some premises or says something as serious as trying to link the government to drug trafficking and terrorist networks; and just as he has the responsibility of standing up in a (news) media to state this, so must he assume the consequences of what he says.”
However, Alvarez Paz expressed his opinion about a criminal indictment issued by a court in Spain. Alvarez Paz did not fabricate false allegations or spread any disinformation; and he certainly was not conspiring or seeking to instigate fear and hatred in the general populace.
But Chavez clearly has a political motive for putting Alvarez Paz in jail indefinitely. The criminal case against Alvarez Paz was officially requested by several members of the National Assembly, which Chavez controls. The Attorney General’s office, also controlled by Chavez, took the case to a court controlled by Chavez, which accepted the baseless charges recommended by the public prosecutors and issued the arrest warrant against Alvarez Paz.
Does Chavez want a conviction? If so, Alvarez Paz could spend some years in prison. Chavez was not boasting idly when he reportedly told a group of visiting Latin American Socialist/Marxist scholars very recently that in Bolivarian Venezuela, Chavez is the three branches of government.
The Chavez regime has persecuted and prosecuted dissenting and independent opinion for years. Alvarez Paz isn’t the first individual arrested and confined illegally for expressing critical opinions of the Chavez regime. He also isn’t the first person to be sent to jail for years on manufactured criminal charges because President Chavez wished it to be so.
But the bogus criminal case against Alvarez Paz is thoughtcrime, and Sebin is the supreme state security agency charged with fighting crimethink.