EYE ON LATIN AMERICA: Venezuela Sanctions, Brazil Torture Report, USAID-Cuban Hip Hop Scene
Senate Sanctions Venezuela.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for approval.
The Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, if enacted, would direct President Barack Obama to take action against any current of former Venezuelan government official who violated the rights of anti-government protestors this year, according to The Hill newspaper in Washington. Sanctions could include freezing assets and denial of visas to travel to the United States
Passed on a voice vote Monday (December 8), the bill was introduced by Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, after reports of peaceful protestors being tortured and killed. The Venezuelan government said opposition leaders incited protesters to violence and planned a coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Thousands of activists taking part in anti-government protests that started February 4, were arrested. More than 40 people were killed in the protests that raged from February to May, according to the BBC.
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Brazil’s Torture and Execution Legacy.
The Brazilian government routinely used torture, summary executions and forced disappearances against dissidents during that country’s 20-year military dictatorship, according to a National Truth Commission report released Wednesday (December 10).
The three-year investigation concluded the violence of the anti-leftist campaign amounted to official policy. “During the military dictatorship, repression and elimination of political opponents became state policy, designed and implemented from decisions emanating from the presidency of the republic and the military ministries,” the report said, according to the Brazilian newspaper Estadao (according to Al Jazeera).
The report, based on over 1,000 testimonials, was presented to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, herself a former Marxist who suffered imprisonment and torture during the dictatorship, which ran from 1964 to 1985. The report documents 434 politically motivated killings and disappearances and provides nearly 400 names of those responsible – including more than 200 military officers, almost 70 of them generals, the Brazilian paper reported.
Other South American countries – Argentina, Chile and Uruguay – have all prosecuted those responsible for atrocities under their own military dictatorships in the 1970s and ‘80s. But Brazil, like South Africa is one of the few whose truth commission named not just the victims but those responsible for the crimes, Al Jazeera reported.
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Rap Ruse Ripped.
Newspapers in Cuba and Venezuela report that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was trying to foment discontent among Cuban young people through music – particularly rap and hip hop.
But Cuban rapper Aldo Rodriguez Baquero, a member of the popular hip hop group Los Aldeanos, says he never received money from (USAID), despite published reports Thursday (December 11) to the contrary, according to the Spanish version of the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald.
The publications cited an investigation by the Associated Press. Rodriguez Baquero said he didn’t know that Serbian promoter Rajko Bozic was a subcontractor of Creative Associates International, which held a contract with USAID. The Cuban rapper said he was unaware the company was working on a project to “recruit” him to “unleash a youth movement against the Cuban government,” according to the AP.
On at least six occasions, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program; they also confiscated computer hardware that in some cases contained information that jeopardized Cubans who likely had no idea they were caught up in a clandestine U.S. operation. Still, contractors working for USAID kept putting themselves and their targets at risk, the AP investigation found.
Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who chairs a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department, said the conduct described in the AP report “suggests an alarming lack of concern for the safety of Cubans involved, and anyone who knows Cuba could predict it would fail.” Leahy added that USAID “never informed Congress about this and should never have been associated with anything so incompetent and reckless.”
Entry filed under: BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), Counter Insurgency, International Crime, Latin America, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Washington. Tags: Brazil, Brazil truth commission, CUBA, Cuban rap, hip hop, human rights violations, military dictatorships in South America, torture, USAID, Venezuela sanctions.