Friday, June 19, 2009

National Guard (GN) environmental squad discovers rare Harpy Eagle at Las Cristinas

Finally, the Venezuelan National Guard decided to take some action protecting our wildlife. Illegal mining and bird trade has severely hurt our wildlife population.

National Guard (GN) environmental squad discovers rare Harpy Eagle at Las Cristinas

VHeadline Venezuela News reports: Adding possibly to problems encountered by Canadian gold mining Crystallex International (KRY), Venezuelan National Guard (GN) troops have discovered a rare species of South American Harpy Eagle -- said by experts to be the 2nd largest bird species in the world -- during a routine environmental inspection at the company's facilities at Las Cristinas in south-eastern Bolivar State.

According to local news reports, unspecified fauna protection procedures were implemented with immediate effect by Lt. Jose Beltran Gonzalez, commanding the 5th Detachment of the National Guard based in Las Claritas after the bird was discovered and seized from being held captive by local resident of Asian origin.

The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) is a neotropical species first described in 1758 as Vultur harpyja and is the largest and most powerful raptor found in the Americas usually inhabiting tropical lowland rainforests. According to reference books the upper side of the Harpy Eagle is covered with slate black feathers, and the underside is white with a black band across the chest up to the neck; the head is pale grey, and is crowned with a double crest. It has talons up to 5 inches in length. Females typically weigh 14 to 20 lbs compared to males which usually weigh 8.5 lb to 12 lb. They can have a wingspan of approximately 6½ ft. Its main prey is tree-dwelling animals such as monkeys but it is also known to attack other birds such as macaws.

The Harpy Eagle is threatened primarily by habitat loss provoked by the expansion of logging and gold prospecting and was all but wiped out, being found only in the remote parts of the Amazon. It is considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Brazilian Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (INPA) says there are 45 known nesting locations which are monitored by volunteers and some birds have been fitted with small satellite tracking devices to chart their location and progress in the wild

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Torrealba's son accompanies him to ballpark

For those of you that aren't familiar with baseball, Yorvit Torrealba is a Venezuelan catcher for the Colorado Rockies. His son was kidnapped in Venezuela like many other people.

Torrealba's son accompanies him to ballpark

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba brought his 11-year-old son to the ballpark Tuesday night, nearly two weeks after the boy was kidnapped in Venezuela while on his way to school.

Yorvit Eduardo followed his father all over the diamond before the game, stopping to greet Rockies players eager to shake his hand. He also threw the ball around and then sat in the dugout as his dad trotted into the outfield during batting practice.

It's been a harrowing ordeal for the family since Torrealba's son and brother-in-law were snatched by kidnappers earlier this month.

They were abducted while driving to the boy's school and the kidnappers demanded nearly $500,000 in ransom, but none was paid.

Torrealba left the team in Houston on June 2 to join his wife in Venezuela, listening as she negotiated with the kidnappers. He was told it was best if he did not do the talking.

A day later, they were left along a highway outside Caracas.

After spending time with his family in Miami, Torrealba returned to the team Sunday.

The Rockies aren't in any rush to get Torrealba back behind the plate, urging him to take his time.

"He's been through living hell, as you well know," manager Jim Tracy said. "When I saw him on Sunday, he looked exhausted. He looked like he'd been put through the wringer, that's how tired he looked. What you worry about is jumping in too quick and then run the risk of injury to the player because he's so fatigued."

Torrealba remains on the restricted list. Once he feels comfortable, the Rockies will send him on a minor league assignment to get his timing back.

"We want to make sure he's ready to go about it the way he was going about it before he had to leave and get his family," Tracy said. "We'll take it day to day."

Torrealba is hitting .230 this season with two homers and seven RBIs

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Letter from Ivan Simonovis - Please help making possible for this letter to reach its destination

This is the reality of what happen in Venezuela. Your help is invaluable, you just passed to one person, or ask me a question, we would be closer to the day that everyone understand the truth.


To the President of the European Union Parliament and
Members of the European Union Parliament.
Wiertzstraat 60B-1047. Bruxelles
My name is Iván Simonovis, 49-year-old and of profession Criminal Investigator. For 23 years uninterrupted I worked in the Police of Criminal investigation of Venezuela and, due to my skills, in the year 2000 I was appointed to take over the Secretary of Public Safety, of the Capital, during the fateful acts of April 11, 2002. My function was the coordination and supervision of the policies of public security of the city of Caracas, Venezuela.

I'm imprisoned in the “General Affairs Department of the Intelligence Services and Prevention of the Interior Ministry and Justice” (DISIP by its initials in Spanish), in Caracas, Venezuela, since November 22, 2004, condemned to 30 years of prison, this actually means death sentence, after 3 years of hearings (the longest judicial litigation of his kind in Venezuelan history), besides 4 years and 6 months of imprisonment without charges, I was sentenced of “complicity” in relation to the death of 2 of the 19 dead in Caracas April 11, 2002.

I am indeed a 4 square meters cell, in the basement of the headquarters of the political police in Caracas, without ventilation or natural light. I only have access to sunlight, 2 hours every 2 weeks. In total 48 hours, 1 days per year of natural light. The place where I am detained is not a jail, is the headquarters of the political police of Venezuela, and these facilities are not designed to have inmates for long periods. Consequently, and given these conditions, my health physical and mental has been deteriorating, and I have had the need for medical attention, in some cases even surgery. There is also a severe restriction of my right to receive visits from family, friends, representatives of NGOs and national or international journalists, violating in fact several articles of the American Convention on Human Rights signed in San José, Costa Rica.

I received a trial with no sense and completely unsubstantiated for the murdered of only 2 of 19 people that unfortunately died in April 11, which developed (the trial) over 225 audiences. This trial was filed in a court located 100 kilometers from Caracas, which is the place where I have been kept, therefore involved traveling over 39,000 kilometers handcuffed.

During the trial, there were hearings from 198 witnesses and 48 experts, there were evaluated more than 250 technical and scientific expertises, and it was analyzed more than 5,700 photographs and videos. None of this evidence proves my guilt as to the facts that I was charged.

In that same period, 67 people were identified, all followers to the President Hugo Chávez, shooting with long and short fire arms against unarmed opposition demonstrators. All these people were acquitted or pardoned by the President of the Republic by an amnesty law issued by the National Assembly after his (the president) request, in December 2007.

On April 3, 2009, I was sentenced to 30 years in prison without any mitigating; on the charge of "complicity correspectiva" without perpetrators, repeat a sentence of death.

This abominable ruling is not even comparable to the recent sentence handed down to former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his intellectual authority, as President, in murder with premeditation, aggravated kidnapping and serious injuries to people during the years 1991 and 1992 in Peru.

Gentlemen, my house has been attacked with Molotov bombs, my family, including my minor children, has been threatened in their physical integrity in public by armed radical groups, affects the national government. My wife, who also acts as my lawyer and like my children, has Spanish citizenship, had been subjected to public scorn, has been threatened in television and radio officers and has been attacked in their person and honor of women in a systematic manner by groups of people followers to the government, whom were mobilized to the outside of the seat of the court for uttering insults and threats during her entries and exits to the hearings.

We've all gone to the courts and exhausted all the resources that Venezuelan law provides, with the only hope of being treat with fairness and get some respect for our human rights, which have been unsuccessful.

This letter possibly cause negative consequences to my family and I, but before my growing state of defenselessness and before the systematic violation of my human rights, I respectfully contact you to request that, in attainment of the resolution recently approved by the above-mentioned European Parliament to the situation of political

persecutions in Venezuela, the European Parliament exhausts all the possible mechanisms so that a commission of that Parliament visit our country and for them to be able to verify how the justice is used for political persecution.

The case that I have mentioned is not a unique one. In Venezuela exists more than 40 political prisoners; victims of the punishment for political dissidence.

I will always be thankful of any aid that the Parliament could do in order to help with the protection of the human rights and to avoid that cases like mine continue occurring in Venezuela. My wife, also my lawyer, is at your absolute disposition to keep this conversation in person with who ever are indicated by the Parliament. She is also available to better explain the thousands of details, humiliations and aggressions that this note does not include. Also, to carry all the documents that supports each one of my words. She could also work helping to get any information necessary in order to obtain the aid of the European Parliament that I’m desperately requesting in.


Iván Simonovis

Political Prisoner

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dictaorships and double Standards

Article Dictatorships and Double Standards--By Amb. Jaime Daremblum

Excellent article by the former Ambassador of Costa Rica to the US. Worth pondering...and particularly for some member countries of the OAS and the organization's current leadership. PMB

Dictatorships and Double Standards
Cuba doesn't belong in the OAS.
by Jaime Daremblum

In all my years as an observer of international affairs, I have seldom seen the Organization of American States (OAS) so energized by a single issue. If only that issue were the humanitarian tragedy of Haiti, or the defense of democracy in those member countries where it is under siege--such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Instead, the OAS has been hell-bent on extending membership to Communist Cuba, which, until last week, had been suspended from the regional group since 1962.

In a consensus vote on June 3, OAS members endorsed Cuba's right to rejoin the organization. But Fidel Castro wants no part of that. He blasted the OAS as an "an accomplice in all the crimes committed against Cuba." Cuban National Assembly president Ricardo Alarcón announced that, regardless of the decision to end Cuba's formal suspension, the Communist regime had no desire to be an OAS member.
For its part, the United States supported the pro-Cuba resolution but insisted that it include a provision that Havana's reentry into the organization must account for OAS "practices, proposals and principles." In other words, Cuba's return will not be automatic; the process will entail a dialogue initiated by Havana and will require Cuba's compliance with various stipulations. "Membership in the OAS must come with responsibilities," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "and we owe it to each other to uphold our standards of democracy and governance that have brought so much progress to our hemisphere."
Most Latin American and Caribbean countries--led by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, the radical Sandinista leader--argue that Cuba's readmittance into the OAS should be unconditional. As an AP story put it, "The United States is largely isolated within the OAS in demanding conditions." It is troubling that so many Latin governments are eager to let a totalitarian regime join a club of democracies without asking that regime to make any commitments on human rights. The 1962 OAS resolution that expelled Cuba was quite clear: "The present Government of Cuba, which has officially identified itself as a Marxist-Leninist government, is incompatible with the principles and objectives of the inter-American system." Cuba remains a Communist government that crushes dissent and jails democracy activists. Its political system is no more compatible with OAS "principles and objectives" in 2009 than it was in 1962.
All 34 OAS members are now bound by the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which was adopted in 2001. Its language is equally clear: "Member states are responsible for organizing, conducting, and ensuring free and fair electoral processes." In addition: "Member states reaffirm their intention to strengthen the inter-American system for the protection of human rights for the consolidation of democracy in the Hemisphere."
Bringing a totalitarian dictatorship into the OAS would make a mockery of those words. Yet Havana's non-participation in the OAS has become a cause célèbre throughout the region. The push to let Cuba rejoin the OAS is part of a larger Latin American effort to end Cuba's isolation in the Western Hemisphere. Some Latin nations are even lobbying intensely for the United States to repeal its embargo against the Communist island. They would have more credibility in arguing this position if they showed greater concern over Cuba's severe human rights violations. Unfortunately, while Latin governments tend to get loud and boisterous when it comes to denouncing the U.S. embargo, they are generally quiet and meek in their criticism of Cuban repression.
For that matter, these same governments have also been remarkably quiet about Hugo Chávez's depredations in Venezuela and the antidemocratic maneuvers of his cronies in Nicaragua (Ortega) and Bolivia (Evo Morales). Chávez has been steadily consolidating an authoritarian regime without hearing much disapproval from his fellow OAS members. Indeed, by and large, Latin American and Caribbean nations have failed to stand up for Venezuelan democracy while Chávez has been demolishing it. (The Venezuelan strongman is now harassing his country's last remaining independent television station.)
The abandonment of Venezuela's anti-Chávez opposition has not been Latin America's finest hour. Some of the region's current leaders--including Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Chilean president Michelle Bachelet--were once pro-democracy dissidents fighting against dictatorial regimes. At the time, they received support from Venezuelan democrats. Today, as Venezuelan democracy crumbles under the boot of an autocrat, they are mostly silent.
The political transformation of Latin America was one of the great democratic success stories of the late 20th century. But now, with Haiti falling deeper into its tragedy, and democracy under attack in Venezuela and elsewhere, some regional officials have decided that embracing a Stalinist dictatorship is more important than aiding a poor nation and defending freedom. They should be ashamed.
Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica's ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Human Rights Beyond Ideology and Mr. Morales false indegenous icon

"Some voices at the Oslo meeting are seldom heard in the West. Victor Hugo Cardenas of Bolivia prides himself on his indigenous background but is an implacable opponent of leftist President Evo Morales, a protégé of Hugo Chavez. Mr. Cardenas, a former vice president of Bolivia, called Mr. Morales a "false indigenous icon" who was deploying "shock troops" to silence critics. Indeed, he said that some of Mr. Morales's thugs had recently attacked his house and beaten members of his family. "But you will hear little of this from our media, much of which is bought by the Venezuelan money of Hugo Chavez," he thundered. "
The wall street journal
Human Rights Beyond Ideology


Twenty years ago, as Soviet communism was collapsing and new democracies were springing up everywhere, there were bright hopes for the spread of human rights. But while this year marks the anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling, yesterday was also the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in China, a reminder of just how unyielding authoritarian governments can be.

Tiananmen was very much on the minds of the 200 human-rights activists who gathered in this tidy capital city where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year. But the Oslo Freedom Forum, organized by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, was unlike any human-rights conference I've ever attended. As at other such gatherings, racism and gender discrimination were on the minds of plenty of participants. But there was no desire to blame such problems on the U.S. or other Western nations. The emphasis was on promoting basic rights in all nations at all times.

"It's pretty simple," says Thor Halvorssen, a human-rights activist and the conference's 33-year-old founder. "We all should want freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom from torture, freedom to travel, due process and freedom to keep what belongs to you." Unfortunately, he explains, "the human-rights establishment at the United Nations is limited to pretty words because so many member countries kill or imprison or torture their opponents."

Indeed, the U.N. Human Rights Conference held in Geneva last month was a disgrace, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denouncing Israel as a "racist regime" and saying that "Zionism" was dominating the media and financial systems of the West. The U.S. didn't send a delegation to Geneva, and a number of the European representatives walked out during Mr. Ahmadinejad's rant.

The Oslo Freedom Forum, by contrast, was a serious gathering of grown-ups. Even Oslo's leftist newspaper Klassekampen (Class Struggle) overcame its initial skepticism, declaring the forum "an impressive assembly of people."

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and Yelena Bonner, the widow of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, couldn't attend due to ill health, but all sent videotaped statements. Ms. Bonner challenged delegates to combat the "anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment growing throughout Europe" since she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize here on behalf of her husband in 1975. Vladimir Bukovsky, a scientist who was tortured by the KGB for years, warned that many of Russia's old oppressors were "safely in power again" in new guises.

The conference also brought together activists from far-flung corners of the world. Palden Gyatso, a diminutive Tibetan monk, told horrifying tales of being imprisoned for 33 years and being tortured by Chinese captors who wedged electric batons into his mouth and destroyed all of his teeth. After his talk, he was embraced by Harry Wu, a survivor of 19 years in China's network of labor camps, which still contain untold numbers of prisoners.

Although quiet and reserved, Abdel Nasser Ould Ethmane kept his audience riveted as he told of how he'd been raised in an elite Mauritanian family that kept slaves even after the practice was officially abolished in his land in 1981. While living in Paris as an adult, he became infuriated at the world's indifference to slavery and teamed up with a former slave from Mauritania to provide legal help to escapees and also conduct covert rescue operations of those still in bondage. Mr. Ethmane's talk was followed by presentations from two powerful speakers from Kurdistan and Uzbekistan, both women who had served time for democratic activism.

Some voices at the Oslo meeting are seldom heard in the West. Victor Hugo Cardenas of Bolivia prides himself on his indigenous background but is an implacable opponent of leftist President Evo Morales, a protégé of Hugo Chavez. Mr. Cardenas, a former vice president of Bolivia, called Mr. Morales a "false indigenous icon" who was deploying "shock troops" to silence critics. Indeed, he said that some of Mr. Morales's thugs had recently attacked his house and beaten members of his family. "But you will hear little of this from our media, much of which is bought by the Venezuelan money of Hugo Chavez," he thundered.

The Norwegian hosts seem keen on repeating the event next year. The forum certainly attracted the right enemies. During the conference, Norwegian papers reported that the Cuban Embassy had emailed a lengthy denunciation of the forum, accusing Mr. Halvorssen and former Cuban political prisoner Armando Valladares of being CIA agents. The embassy also wrote that Mr. Valladares was a "terrorist," and it accused the Human Rights Foundation's Bolivian representative of "providing the bulk of the funds for the terrorist gang" that had supposedly plotted to assassinate President Morales.

Mr. Halvorssen expressed both amusement and exasperation at the charges. "They accuse me of working for the CIA in countries I've never visited," he told me. "As for Ambassador Valladares, he was Amnesty International's first prisoner of conscience from Cuba. Amnesty doesn't usually protect CIA agents."

Mr. Fund is a columnist for

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page W13

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