October 1, 2009

A hunger for change

Juan Cristóbal says: - There is one news item we have neglected and we really shouldn't have: Venezuelan students and political prisoners held a massive, successful hunger strike during the past week.

The strike caught the attention of the opposition media, but more importantly, of the OAS. Secretary Insulza was sufficiently moved to oh-so-politely ask the Chávez administration to let the Interamerican Commision for Human Rights come to Venezuela for an inspection and see what all the fuss is about (pretty please). The strike also resulted in the liberation of Julio Rivas, a student leader, unjustly jailed for protesting a couple of weeks ago.

The Commission itself agreed to give the students a fair hearing and listen to their concerns. So far, Venezuela continues to refuse the Commission permission for a visit, and by doing so, bolsters the notion that it has something to hide.

I still have a problem understanding our side's love-hate relationship with the OAS. While some of us correctly decry the organism as an ineffective bureaucracy, devoid of moral authority and completely in the pocket of the hemisphere's neo-despots, others go to great lengths to get their attention.

Still, the students came across once again as committed, effective and untainted.

Doubts about their long-term staying power remain. The government's strange acquiescence to Rivas' freedom and their snickering glee in seeing the students take the spotlight away from politicians may signal they prefer them as potentially weaker, less experienced, less organized rivals.

Regardless, their hunger strike was a big hit and a PR bulls-eye, so hats off to them.

PS.- While we're on the topic of the young'uns - check out the newest member of the Venezuelan blogosphere, the student-centered No Goat and No Rope (in Spanish only). There's good stuff in there.