Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez traveled to Libya recently to receive the coveted Gadhafi International Human Rights Prize for 2004. I am, unfortunately, not making this up.
Previous winners include such symbols of human freedom as the antisemitic Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam in America (1996); Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (1998); and, among 12 other “intellectual and literature personalities,” Roger Garaudy, the French ex-Communist, Muslim convert and Holocaust denier (2002).
And how could Chavez, in good conscience, accept such an award? In the same way, I suppose, as he could present Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe with a replica of Simon Bolivar’s sword earlier this year.
Meanwhile, doing his best to live up to the principles embodied by the Gadhafi International Human Rights Prize, Chavez won approval of a law to increase state control of television and radio broadcasting in Venezuela.
“This legislation severely threatens press freedom in Venezuela,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Its vaguely worded restrictions and heavy penalties are a recipe for self-censorship by the press and arbitrariness by government authorities.”
(Via Marc Cooper.)