The oppression and harassment of political opponents has become institutionalized throughout some parts of Latin America. Two recent examples:
* Reports that Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López has been sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison for leading anti-regime demonstrators during widespread protests in 2014 against the regime of President Nicolás Maduro, and,
* The months-long judicial harassment of opponents of the Bolivia government of President Evo Morales, including retired Gen. Gary Prado Salmon in Bolivia for alleged involvement in a plot to topple the government in 2009. The purported coup plot is still being investigated, and a court case is ongoing. Prado's alleged involvement has not been proven. Opponents of Morales say the government concocted the "plot." The government says the CIA was behind it.
López is a politician who represents one of the strongest threats to Maduro's government, the successor regime to that of Hugo Chávez. Maduro, lacking any leadership qualifications and overseeing the disintegration of the national economy, has been struggling for months.
Prado, who led the Bolivian military force that captured and executed revolutionary Ernesto (Ché) Guevara in 1967, and who since has led a distinguished career and is widely considered a patriot (and seen as a symbol of imperialist Yankee corruption by the Morales regime), is under house arrest and is recovering from surgery at home. Prado has been paralyzed and in a wheelchair for years. The court this week required him to give video testimony from his bed.
These are typical examples of government harassment and judicial abuse. Both Venezuela and Bolivia consider themselves democracies. But if the definition of democracy is the existence of the Rule of Law (Estado de Derecho), both countries are lacking in this regard. It is one thing to have a Constitution, and laws on the books. It is another thing for those laws, and that Constitution, to ensure and protect the rights of citizens. Those rights are being violated on a daily basis in both nations.
Bolivia, Venezuela and other Latin American countries have for decades been justified in claiming regular interference in their internal political affairs by the United States. The history of U.S. coup-plotting is well known. But this is something else. These examples of judicial and political abuse should be condemned whether your politics are of the right or the left. They are abuses, period.