Written by Cliff Kincaid
In another outrageous case of the abuse of human rights, the Hugo ChÃ¡vez regime in Venezuela has arrested anti-communist activist Alejandro PeÃ±a Esclusa on trumped-up charges of being a terrorist. The president of UnoAmerica, an anti-communist alliance, and the author of The Foro de SÃ£o Paulo: A Threat to Freedom in Latin America, PeÃ±a Esclusa is a former Venezuelan presidential candidate who has opposed efforts by the Chavez regime to spread Marxist revolution in Venezuela and throughout the region.
Olavo de Carvalho, a Brazilian writer and friend of PeÃ±a Esclusa, says the Venezuelan opposition leader was taken away by the political police of Hugo ChÃ¡vez on July 12, having been arrested on ridiculous, false, and absurd charges based on testimony allegedly given by a supposed Salvadoran terrorist now in Cuba. The ChÃ¡vez regime, which functions under the direction and supervision of the Cuban secret police, apparently planted explosives as part of the frame-up.
Carvalho appealed to members of the U.S. Congress and the public to send immediate notes of protest to the Venezuelan government over this incident, which is more evidence of ChÃ¡vez's "utter contempt for the fundamental rights of his political opponents."
Carvalho said, "The Geneva Conventions guarantee to every prisoner the right to be visited by a minister belonging to the prisoner's religious denomination, or by members of the Red Cross. I appeal to the Catholic Church in Venezuela to send a priest to meet with PeÃ±a Esclusa in prison immediately, in order to ensure that the excess of humanitarianism of the ChÃ¡vez government will not lead the prisoner to death from emotional exhaustion or from unknown or unthinkable causes."
"The goal of the farce set up against PeÃ±a is to create an appearance of connection between him and 'violent right-wing organizations,' which, in the current Latin American scene, stand out especially because of their spectacular non-existence," Carvalho added.
The official ChÃ¡vez news agency has declared that "Alejandro PeÃ±a Esclusa is a dark character of the Venezuelan opposition linked to fascist sectors and with a thick file of conspiratorial activities against the government of President Hugo ChÃ¡vez."
All of this means that he has been effective in organizing opposition to the would-be dictator, who is the subject of a laudatory amateurish propaganda film by Oliver Stone, "South of the Border," now playing to small audiences in a few U.S. theaters.
The fact is, however, that ChÃ¡vez has been systematically destroying freedom in Venezuela, including and most notably freedom of the press. There is only one major independent television station left in Venezuela, GlobovisiÃ³n, but its owner Guillermo Zuloaga has fled the country and is in hiding after an arrest order was issued against him on trumped up charges. Both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have covered these ominous developments, as the major media in the U.S. are starting to pay more attention to the destruction of freedom in Venezuela and ChÃ¡vez's ties to terrorist groups and regimes.
In a March 1, 2009, column published by Accuracy in Media, PeÃ±a Esclusa had predicted that ChÃ¡vez would end up in so much trouble, because of popular opposition and discontent, that he would choose to rely on foreign powers such as Iran for protection and provide a base of operations in Venezuela for foreign terrorist groups. "ChÃ¡vez is providing the Venezuelan territory to Middle Eastern terrorist groups, not only to help him defend his revolution inside the country, but as a powerful deterrent against his international adversaries," he said.
This is precisely what is happening. As Accuracy in Media has recently documented, the situation in Venezuela is now so bad that even the Socialist International has condemned the human rights and economic record of the regime, raising concern as well about its involvement in Middle Eastern affairs.
Accuracy in Media published an interview with PeÃ±a Esclusa when he became a prominent global advocate of saving freedom and democracy in Honduras when a ChÃ¡vez puppet was planning to seize total power and was evicted from the country. Although the Obama Administration sided with ChÃ¡vez in this case, international opposition forced the Marxist forces to eventually abandon their campaign to take control of the Honduran government and destroy democracy there. As a result, Honduras has maintained its democratic and anti-communist form of government.
In the interview, however, PeÃ±a Esclusa was pessimistic about Venezuela, saying:
"There is very little room left for freedom and democracy in Venezuela. This is a 'third generation' dictatorship; not so cruel and obvious as Fidel Castro's, but just as evil. There are elections, but rigged. There is certain freedom of press, but the media is threatened with closure if it 'crosses the line.' Not all ChÃ¡vez's adversaries are persecuted, just some, but enough to spread fear among the rest. All three branches of power are controlled by ChÃ¡vez.
The Constitution has been rewritten to allow ChÃ¡vez to stay in power indefinitely. Venezuelan petrodollars are used to export his Marxist revolution throughout Latin America. And the government is closely related with Colombian narco-terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists."
In the case of his detention in Venezuela, Carvalho said the alleged Salvadoran terrorist, who supposedly served as PeÃ±a Esclusa's "contact" in Venezuela, was "interrogated and then sent to Cuba, where no independent investigator can contact him to verify whether his testimony really exists and whether it is true." The Venezuelan regime claims that the Salvadoran, ChÃ¡vez Abarca, is the right-hand man of LuÃs Posada Carriles, who was accused of bombing a Cuban plane.
"So far, however, the most compromising piece of information that has been found against ChÃ¡vez Abarca is that he was arrested for car theft and smuggling," Carvalho said. "The justice system of El Salvador set him free in 2007."
He added, "If there is no evidence that ChÃ¡vez Abarca is a terrorist, much less is there any proof against Alejandro PeÃ±a. The Venezuelan police said they found explosives in his apartment, which is laughable, to say the least. PeÃ±a, who has never shown any sign of mental unbalance, would have to be completely insane to plot bomb attacks against a government which he has filed suit against in the International Court of Justice."
At this point, "Nobody knows where Alejandro PeÃ±a is, nor what his health condition is after some hours of fondling by the hands of Hugo ChÃ¡vez's political police, widely known by their matchless tenderness," Carvalho said.
The American public and members of Congress need to be heard in this case because President Obama cannot be counted on to do anything to free PeÃ±a Esclusa or any other political prisoners in Venezuela.
Tom Hayden, the anti-Vietnam War protester and former official of the Marxist Students for a Democratic Society who became a leader of "Progressives for Obama," has claimed there is a "gradual rapprochement" and a friendly "dialogue" between Obama and ChÃ¡vez, while Oliver Stone's new movie asserts that ChÃ¡vez has been assured by Obama that the U.S. will not do anything to "destabilize" his dictatorial regime. In the Marxist lexicon, "destabilize" means supporting the forces of freedom.