- Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights
Support the Venezuelans to claim their cultural identity right
On Friday, February 28th, a group of Venezuelans living in France launched a petition through the link site Change.org It was closed on March the 4th with 2398 signatures. This letter was addressed to Mrs. Irina Bokova Director-General of UNESCO, to request her attention to an event taking place on march the 5th, entitled "From Bolivar to Chavez, Chavez legacy for UNESCO’s destiny " This activity aimed to validate a new cult to personality, which would certainly segregate all Venezuelans in disaccord to the revolutionary and fratricidal ideas held by the extinct Lieutenant - Colonel Hugo Chavez Frías. Since 2006, The National Academy of History of Venezuela has been accusing through a statement dated 3/3/2006, (cf. http://www.anhvenezuela.org/opinion.php?cod=1) violations to a law concerning the uses of the name, effigy and titles of Simon Bolivar, published in The Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Number: 26.658 from June 20th of 1968. Nevertheless, despite all efforts, this event took place as the UNESCO cannot deny an accredited delegate the use of its meeting rooms. And it is for this reason that as Venezuelans we are addressing the OHCHR in order to clear that the Permanent Delegation of Venezuela to UNESCO doesn’t represent the rights and interests of all the Venezuelan people, and additionally is promoting an act that violates a our country’s law. However, as the body responsible for building intercultural understanding: trough protection of heritage and valorization of cultural diversity, as well as protecting freedom of expression as an essential condition of democracy, development and human dignity, we are convinced that the UNESCO intervention could and should have been more decisive. No historian, sociologists or anthropologists expert on this critical and delicate matter, was invited to the act referred above even thou some residing in Paris are renown experts in the cult to our national hero. We are as well in possession of written exchanges between the architects of the political ideology strategy of the Bolivarian revolution which is a confession of sorts of the deliverate use of history and profanity of the national cult for political ends. This very thesis is valid indeed, and it was particularly effective and necessary to enhance the formation and affirmation of national sentiment in some countries (including European ones) during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such use was also necessary and useful for the creation of new Latin American republics. The French-Mexican Professor François Xavier Guerra has been recognized as one of the researchers who have been working hardly on the subject. Venezuela, despite signing its declaration of Independence in 1811, begins to exist as an independent republic only in 1830. In 1842 the remains of Simon Bolivar were exhumed in Santa Marta (Colombia) and repatriated to Caracas (Venezuela) in an attempt to exacerbate the failed Bolivarian project after the separation of Venezuela from the Great Colombia. Since then, as it has been stressed by history experts such as Germán Carrera Damas, Elías Pino Iturrieta and Frédérique Langue, that some “caudillos” (warlords) governments (such as Monagas hegemony, Antonio Guzman Blanco brothers, Joaquin Crespo, Cipriano Castro, and Juan Vicente Gómez) used successfully Simon Bolivar heroic figure and his various representations at least until 1960. Even before the President Chavez passed away, his ministers and high ranked public authorities of government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as some of our first governments did, took to the task of changing the national symbols, cherished to so many who grew honoring them for their own interest. Ranging from changing the name of the Republic, to important symbols like the coat of arms and our flag. All this aimed to build worship like cult to a person who was in life repeatedly denounced to the International Criminal Court for violation of human rights and crimes against humanity. Effort that succeeded particularly generating: growing discord among brothers, accentuated political exclusion, segregation and polarization of the civil society. Nowadays many Venezuelans suffer excessive force repression, censorship and torture (more than 40 cases documented and reported by the Venezuelan criminal lawyer forum). This effort has moved now to the international sphere receiving, indirectly, the support of agencies such as UNESCO. As this continues we see in despair as every day the polarization grows bigger spurred by the government and all forms of democratic dissidence is cataloged as traitors, criminalized and repressed. And we ask; will political asylum be granted to those citizens oppressed by this fascist government as a measure to escape severe repression? Or must we remain hopeless and desperate, condemned to a bullet anytime? One of the most laudable UN missions is promoting peace; the OAS has spent years ignoring the requests of our representatives. The delegate of Venezuela to UNESCO is mocking our laws with impunity by promoting an event like this and bowing to partisan pressures and their ideologies. Isn’t it a blatant violation of the rights of the millions of Venezuelans who have manifested in the different electoral processes and are today dying in the streets opposing this regime, which won’t hesitate to use real bullets and all forms of excessive force? I have received many emails from my fellow countrymen thanking the initiative and signing spontaneously the petition mentioned at the beginning. . Indeed, we had to close it after 3 days as we were running out of time, in order produce it in the UNESCO the day of the event. And now we continue our struggle by other means. Those are the voices of young Venezuelans who believe a better future is still possible while the fascist government of Venezuela tries to silence them; desperate voices screaming for help and refuse to dialogue with a cynical regime that has cheated them over and over. How many sons and daughters have to die before their voices can be heard? We are just ordinary citizens, civil society, addressing to you in these hard times. The regime has bought cheaply consciences, by promoting misery and then providing food, some Venezuelans have fled away, others have lost faith resigned, but today there many who keep struggling despite all seems lost with the hope that a change will come. Please, we beg you, don’t let us down!
- Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights
Support the Venezuelan right to their cultural identity
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