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By Andres Oppenheimer
All politicians lie, or sometimes play games with the truth, but the presidents of Bolivia and Ecuador were so off the mark when they asked the
In their speeches to the 34-country OAS annual meeting held earlier this week in Cochabamba, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa argued that the OAS's independent human rights commission -- which has criticized their countries for human rights and freedom of the press abuses -- should be significantly reformed because it allegedly criticizes leftist countries while ignoring U.S. abuses.
In his opening speech calling for the "reorganization of the jurisdiction" of the
"If it doesn't want to address human rights abuses in the United States, it's better that the
Correa, who has led a campaign against the commission since it criticized him for harassing the daily El Universal and other independent media, said that "we cannot accept double standards," and accused the OAS and its human rights group of "neo-colonialism."
In fact, if the presidents of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, who teamed up with them, had spent one second doing a
Last year, the commission passed 11 resolutions requesting the United States to take urgent actions to correct human rights abuses. The only country that received more commission requests for urgent corrective actions was Honduras, which was the target of 12 commission resolutions.
Colombia ranked third among the countries with the most commission urgent action requests, Mexico fourth, and Argentina and Cuba were tied for fifth place, with three requests each. By comparison, the commission passed only one urgent action request against Venezuela, one against Bolivia and one against Ecuador last year.
In 2002, after the U.S. government opened its prison camp for suspected international terrorists at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, the commission was among the first in the world to demand that the United States "take urgent measures necessary to have the legal status of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay determined by a competent tribunal."
In subsequent years, the commission held at least six hearings about its request to the U.S. government, and issued separate resolutions demanding U.S. action to protect the rights of two Guantanamo detainees. In 2006, the commission passed a resolution urging the United States to "immediately close down the Guantanamo prison camp."
The commission recently issued a 175-page report blasting the United States for the indiscriminate arrests of undocumented immigrants. In 2011, the commission also requested urgent action from the U.S. government not to extradite at least 38 detained Haitian immigrants who suffered from serious health problems.
My opinion: The United States and Canada, which defended the commission's independence at the OAS meeting that ended Tuesday with a decision to postpone a final ruling until early next year, are not free of blame in this debate.
Many of their critics rightly accuse the United States and Canada for failing to ratify the
But the Venezuela-Bolivia-Ecuador offensive against the commission, and their leaders' tirades against independent human rights groups, such as
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