May 17, 2007

Hey Hugo, spare a thought for this kid

Katy says: Blogging is an interesting hobby. Sometimes it's hard to get worked about about anything in particular, but other times, some new development causes such indignation that posts just burst out of you like a geyser. This post is a geyser.

During the course of my day-job, I have worked on the issue of the ongoing humanitarian crises in Sudan. For years, the government there has used its oil wealth to carry out genocide against its own people. The oligarchs in Khartoum, moved by a sick distortion of Islam, are waging Jihad against their African & Christian country-men and -women, carrying out mass displacements and massacring hundreds of thousands in Southern Sudan and, more recently, in Darfour. These atrocities have been documented in human rights reports from reputed organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

While the international community shuns the government in Sudan and desperately finds a way to put a stop to the series of war crimes being committed in Darfour, our government puts out a press release announcing the visit of Sudan's Minister of Energy as part of a move to increase ties with that nation.

The tone of the press release makes it sound like we're talking about a member of Iceland's cabinet instead of a war criminal. For those of you who don't speak Spanish, it says the visit is to increase relations related to energy, and that the minister is scheduled to meet the President of PDVSA, among other high-ranking government officials. The "distinguished visitor" will also give a talk titled "The Republic of Sudan and its participation in the international system", sponsored by one of Chavez's under-secretaries of foreign affairs, Mr. Abdelbassit Badawi Ali El- Sanosi (I kid you not, that is his name).

The last paragraph is a keeper. It says that since diplomatic relations were established in 2005, ties between Venezuela and Sudan have been "cordial" and "friendly," and that this led to both countries coinciding on many opinions in international forums in 2006. I suspect those opinions had something to do with the alleged "sovereign" rights of states to do whatever they please inside their borders.

While I envision this madman parading around my country as a "distinguished visitor," the memories of the dozens of refugees I have met in my work come to mind. I think of the ones who told me of their villages being indiscriminately bombed by their government. I think of the ones who fled to the jungle, surviving for weeks on water lillies and praying not to be eaten by leopards at night. I think of the maimed, the orphaned and the widowed, and I think of the Chinese, Canadian, Malaysian, Indian and now, Venezuelan oil companies that made - or stand to make - a buck out of all this mayhem.

The boy in the picture accompanying this post is one of the thousands of children whose lives have been devastated by the genocidal acts of this government that Chávez is so willing to engage. I wish I didn't have to show this picture, but we spend way too much time hiding the ugly side-effects of what passes as normal diplomacy. So here's hoping that somewhere, someone within the Chávez administration develops a moral compass, and asks the distinguished Minister what they plan to do about the children of Darfour.