You have likely heard for most of your life, from the ever-more-leftist universities and media organs, “Latin American death squads” are a tool of right-wing dictators and military governments trying to suppress the people’s champions, the leftist, progressive, forces. You have also heard Democrats consistently defend leftist regimes in Latin America. You will recall that a Democrat-controlled Congress prohibited funding support to the “Contras” in opposition to the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua (a crew that is now back in power through the ballot box).
You will also remember that the New York Times suppressed knowledge of the Holodomor and the Holocaust, as each unfolded. So, it is quite shocking, and refreshing, to see the New York Times publish “Venezuela Forces Killed Thousands, Then Covered It Up, U.N. Says.”
Special Action Forces described by witnesses as “death squads” killed 5,287 people in 2018 and another 1,569 by mid-May of this year, in what are officially termed by the Venezuelan government “Operations for the Liberation of the People,” United Nations investigators reported.
Laying out a detailed description of a lawless system of oppression, the report says the actual number of deaths could be much higher. It cites accounts by independent groups who report more than 9,000 killings for “resistance to authority” over the same period.
But any hopes that [United Nation human rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s] visit paved the way for a government change of course on human rights were quickly dampened by the news days later of the death in custody of a Navy captain, Rafael Acosta, who was detained the day Ms. Bachelet’s visit ended. His lawyer said he had been in good health at the time of his arrest, but he died in a military hospital a week later showing visible signs beatings.
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet came to the position from Chile, a very stable democracy that elected Bachelet president. Former Chilian President Bachelet, elected twice, has serious human rights credibility [emphasis added]:
The daughter of an air force general, she was a medical student when Marxist President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup in September 1973. Her father, Gen. Alberto Bachelet, was imprisoned for treason for opposing the coup and then-23-year-old Michelle and her mother were tortured in a secret prison for two weeks before they fled into exile. Following months of torture, her father died of cardiac arrest in March 1974.
It looks like the NYT has decided that this one cannot be covered up and that the Democrats had better get on a “moderate” or even “Scoop Jackson” side if they are to win the prize of ultimate power in 2020. Reading back through earlier reporting on Democrats’ reactions to Maduro’s latest crackdown, it is worth noting that Joe Biden came down against Maduro, as did Speaker Pelosi, in contrast to some new Congresswomen:
[Congresswoman Ilhan] Omar’s pro-Maduro sentiments make her an outlier within her own party. Joe Biden tweeted on Tuesday that Maduro’s violence against protesters was “criminal” and that the “U.S. must stand with the National Assembly & Guaidó in their efforts to restore democracy through legitimate, internationally monitored elections.” Nancy Pelosi tweeted that “Maduro needs to acknowledge the will of the Venezuelan people, whose moving calls for democracy have been heard around the world.”
So far, Omar hasn’t been joined even by other members of the far-left wing of the Democratic party, many of whom have offered a muted response to the Venezuelan uprising. “Violence is horrible,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tells NRwhen asked to comment on the situation. When pressed on whether the Maduro government is legitimate or Guaidó deserves U.S. support, she adds that she’ll “defer to caucus leadership on how we navigate this.”
Socialists Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were completely silent on Tuesday about the situation unfolding in Venezuela as the socialist nation reportedly fired on and ran over protesters.
Kamala Harris seemed more moderate, more American mainstream, as she had previously come out against Maduro’s violence:
What’s happening in Venezuela is a crisis. The people who have fled Maduro’s dictatorial regime deserve safety and protection. As President, I would immediately extend TPS status to Venezuelans. It’s the right thing to do. America must show moral leadership in this hemisphere.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 23, 2019
It appears, then, that leading Democrats in the presidential primary field are safely against Maduro’s government violence against the Venezuelan people. That is a rare point of sanity and common decency in that field. The text of Bachelet’s UN OHCHR speech is posted, although the report is not available on their website as of 7 July 2019. Let us see what the U.S. politicians’ reactions are in the week ahead.