Many on Colombia`s left have made their name defending human rights.
So why is it that some of these very same politicians cannot bring themselves to stand up for the human rights of Venezuelans?
Why is it that they either remain silent, or worse still take the side of the government that oppresses and crushes dissent?
Why is it that not only in Colombia but across Latin America there are politicians unwilling to fight for human rights when “their side” is in power?
Are human rights not human rights if protesters are rebelling against left wing governments?
A left wing politician is taken prisoner by a far right government. His crime? To organize a march in protest at the government`s hardline policies.
The government`s secret service and hit squads fire live bullets into the crowds who`ve come out to support their leader. Reports say protestors were raped by the butt of a gun, beaten and tortured. The prisons minister tweets that her opponents are “shit scared” of her armed mobs. And the media reporting on this are threaten, harassed or taken off air.
So what happens next?
Neighbouring countries pressure for the prisoner`s release. Diplomatic ties are cut off with the right wing government. Across the continent they condemn the action and label the government a fascist dictatorship. And human rights NGOs campaign day and night for the release of the prisoner.
Change the left wing prisoner for right winger Leopoldo Lopez and the right wing government for Maduro`s administration.
Do you hear the condemnation from Presidents Correa, Kirchner or Morales? Have the Colombian human rights activists in the Polo Democratic party stood up to Maduro or campaigned for the release of Lopez?
No. Absolutely not.
Instead, look at this from Clara Lopez, the presidential candidate for the Polo Democrats.
“Polo rejects the attempted coup in Venezuela”.
Now I like Clara, she ordinarily strikes me as a democrat. Check out her twitter background, it`s a photo of students marching. She believes in direct action, and protest. Clara, do you support only those who march against governments you disagree with?
And this from former Liberal Party Senator and now Marcha Patriotica Leader, Piedad Cordoba a “defender of human rights” according to her profile.
“President Maduro we support you with all our love and friendship. Onwards!!”
Hang on Piedad. Your political movement is called “March” you organize protests across Colombia and yet you support a leader whose troops fire live bullets into student protestors?
Alongside this there are people like Ivan Cepeda who has carved himself a career as a “defender of human rights” as he boasts on his twitter account. Standing up for those oppressed or threatened by overbearing governments or by hit squads is what he does 24 hours a day. So any tweet from him on the political prisoner or on the reports of torture in Venezuela? You guessed it, diddly squat. I guess he wants the Polo press release about the “attempted coup” to express his view.
I`m sure some of you are saying, well, maybe they don`t want to get involved in the business of a foreign country. Fine but Cordoba and Lopez are actively supporting Maduro – they are already involved.
And I`m sure you`re asking why I`m picking on what the left are or are not saying. Look, I`m not suggesting it`s everyone on the left – far from it. There are sensible moderate left wingers, of course.
What I find hypocritical is that the left are supposed to be champions of human rights and can be great campaigners for those who have their rights ignored or violated. That is what they do, what they fight on in Colombia day and night.
So not to join forces with those protesting against an authoritarian government is not only hypocritical, but seems to me is also a fundamental betrayal of left wing values.
If you`re a left winger how can you support a government that oppresses its people?
State violence is state violence. Oppression is oppression. Censorship is censorship. Torture is torture.
Human rights are universal.
Kevin is a political consultant and lobbyist who cut his teeth working in the UK Parliament. He is a regular panelist on Colombian television, a political communication strategist and a university lecturer. Kevin is the founder and editor of Colombia Politics.