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The concentration of power under Hugo Chávez has jeopardised judicial independence, media freedom, and civil and political rights in Venezuela, according to Human Rights Watch.
The US-based campaign group details in a report published on Tuesday what it describes as the pernicious impact of an increasingly powerful executive as well as the weakening of democratic institutions and human rights guarantees.
“For years, President Chávez and his followers have been building a system in which the government has free rein to threaten and punish Venezuelans who interfere with their political agenda,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.
“Today that system is firmly entrenched, and the risks for judges, journalists, and rights defenders are greater than they’ve ever been under Chávez,” said Mr Vivanco, who was expelled from Venezuela in 2008 immediately after the release of the rights group’s previous report, which described Mr Chávez’s first 10 years in power as a “lost decade.” [...]