An Open Letter to UNICEF about Communication Guerrillas in Venezuela

To Whom It May Concern,

Being UNICEF an organization that upholds the Convention on the Rights of the Child and that advocates the rights of children worldwide, we ask you to take a stand by opposing the use of underage children for political purposes by the Hugo Chavez's regime in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez has announced the creation of Communication Guerrillas to help counteract the distorted news reported by the privately owned media. Youngsters under 18 years of age will be trained to essentially carry out political propaganda in favor of the Bolivarian Revolution. In the best tradition of totalitarian fascist regimes, these kids will wear uniforms as trained militia. They will be taking the streets with spray cans to write, paint and seed socialism, they will paint murals (some of them with clear analogy to violent images), distribute pamphlets, and open the eyes of the population to the truth of the Bolivarian revolution. They will surf the Internet to participate in social networks and blogs to spread the wonders of the Bolivarian Revolution. Part of their duties will be to train fellow classmates to spread the truth among their very own families.

The creation of these Communication Guerrillas violate several articles of the current Venezuelan Law of Education that was drafted and approved by the Chavez's regime. In spite of this, the Secretary of Education, Mr. Hector Navarro who should enforce the law and protect the students, has expressed full support for these Communication Guerrillas. In the act of swearing in the first group of students that will become guerrillas, the minister said in a motivational speech: The guerrillas have to fire their shots enabling them to cause further damage to those who have to be damaged. By using this inflammatory language, he was asking these teenagers to react against fellow countrymen. This is just one more of Hugo Chávez’s ploy to strengthen censorship and his control over the flow of information. On March 21, 2010 he said: I’m going to have my online trench from the palace to wage the battle, ... I’ll provide information and even respond to my enemies -- his enemies being those Venezuelans that do not share his political view.

This new action taken by the regime brings to our memory the book The children of Hitler by Guido Knopp. In such book Mr. Knoop described the methods used by the Third Reich to indoctrinate children with Hitler's programs of Gleichschaltung designed to bring every citizen into line with Nazi aims. Millions of youngsters were bedazzled by the concepts of National Socialism and they were molded into willing cannon fodder to promulgate the Party's fanatical aims. It is not difficult to foresee a tragic outcome, we have seen it over and over again: The young pioneers in Cuba and Russia, Franco's militias, kids used by Hammas, the child soldiers of Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda and a sad etc.

The use of children to form militias for political propaganda in defense of the revolution is unacceptable and violates not only Venezuelan laws (article 78 in the Constitution and 35, 56, 57, 68, 69 and 73 in the Youth Protection Law -LOPNA) but also several articles from the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) -Article 3 (best interest of the child), Article 4 (protection of children rights), Article 6 (Protection of child survival and development), Article 29 (Goals of education), Article 36 (Protection from exploitation) and Article 38 (Protection during War and Armed conflicts)-. The provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are what guides UNICEF in its mission of advocating for child protection.

A petition to stop and dismantle the Communication Guerrilla machinery has been presented by the civil organization (FUNDICI) to the Tribunal of Protection of Children and Teenagers and has been accepted for discussion. However, Venezuela is no longer a democracy, Hugo Chávez has overtaken the power of all three government branches: legislative, executive, and judicial; and he has used the tools of democracy to transform Venezuela's government into a totalitarian regime that is showing its face clearer everyday. The lack of separation of powers has resulted in the support of National Assembly (Venezuelan Congress), General Attorney and the Ombudsman of these institutions to the government in the formation of these Communication Guerrillas exempting the government from any wrongdoing. This is why, there is little chance of getting any reaction from the institutions that would be responsible for opposing this measure inside the country. Because of their young age they have propensity to be brainwashed, and turned into intolerant fanatics, becoming puppets of the government.

No comments: