US human rights activists were escorted to the airport until they boarded the first flight out of the country
On Thursday night, Venezuela's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
announced in a statement the immediate expulsion of José
Miguel Vivanco, America's director for US-based human rights
monitor, Human Rights Watch, and of HRW's Deputy Director
Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro told state-run TV channel Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) that a "special commission" drove Vivanco and Wilkinson to Maiquetía International Airport, where they boarded the first commercial flight available and left the country immediately.
According to the state-run news agency Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias (ABN), the authorities took the decision because the representative of the non-governmental organization "had violated the Constitution and laws of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, attacking the institutions of Venezuela's democracy and illegally interfering in the internal affairs of our country."
Earlier on Thursday, Vivanco had disclosed a report prepared by Human Rights Watch called "A Decade Under Chávez: Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela."
Based on the report, Hugo Chávez's government has not only distinguished by its craving to control all the institutions but also by its discrimination and exclusion. The report recalled that discrimination for political reasons is not new in Venezuela and that in 1998 Chávez promised to end it. However, Chávez "replaced (the established system of political discrimination) with new forms of discrimination against real and perceived political opponents."
Translated by Gerardo Cárdenas
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.