Terror in Venezuela

Citizens live in fear that a group of hooded men in the early hours of the morning will kidnap them from their homes. (El Nacional)

14ymedio biggerEl Nacional (via 14ymedio), Miguel Henrique Otero, Madrid, 19 January 2024 — There is a model of power – the Police State – that has its starting point at the time of the creation of the political police in communist Russia, ordered by Lenin in 1917. With Stalin’s coming to power in 1922 and until his death in 1953 – more than three decades – the entity of the political police grew to become the very core of power.

The idea that prevailed during Tsarism, that the police – the famous Okrhana – was a mere instrument in the hands of the tsar or his ministers, was discarded and replaced by the communists with another concept: police power. And what is the nature of police power? It thinks, plans, makes decisions and executes operations on the thesis that every person is, by definition, suspicious. Specifically, suspected of being a political enemy, an enemy of the Regime, and therefore a person who must be watched, threatened, coerced. A person turned into a file. A person who, as an enemy, can be arrested, prosecuted, tortured, disappeared or openly murdered. Without having committed any crime. Without a reason to explain or justify it.

It is with Stalin that the political police acquires omnipresent power, total and unlimited, structurally unpunished, governed by criteria of arbitrariness, unilaterally, disproportionate use of force, secrecy and opacity. It is with Stalin that the political police merges with the State, which acquires the proportions of a police state, one of terror. It is with Stalin that the political police, merged with the Party and the State, reached stages of delirium when they were ordered to fulfill quotas of detainees, who were prosecuted and executed. Death quotas became goals and generated competition between the different police units, and they hunted anyone with the aim of reaching and exceeding the goals, in order to receive flattery and awards from the chief murderer.

It is with Stalin that the political police acquires omnipresent power, total and unlimited

That State, with the variants and nuances that have taken place in more than seven decades, is the state of terror with which Russia now governs, under the mandate of the war criminal Vladimir Putin. And it is that model that was reproduced in the communist countries of Eastern Europe, which engendered monsters such as the Securitate in Romania, the Stasi in East Germany – which fortunately disappeared – and the Security Service of Poland. In the early sixties it was the model for Cuba, where it is maintained today with the ferocity that is its trademark, and it is the model that, with indisputable success, now exists in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The Venezuelan police state, like the Cuban and the Nicaraguan, is also militaristic. The scenes where military and police act together are constant, and it is shown that in their methods there are common patterns: the DGCIM (General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence), SEBIN (Bolivarian Intelligence Service), SFAES (special Action Forces), CONAS (Anti Extortion and Kidnapping Command), National Guard units, PNB (Venezuelan National Police) and more: all have been trained to chase, kidnap, arrest, prosecute and torture to death. That they share procedures is predictable, because they work for the same boss. They are agents of the same project and have the same assignment: to establish terror.

But terror – this is fundamental – not only spreads by exercising state violence, illegal and widely, but also by communicating terror. And it must communicate it in all its extremes to show the arbitrariness, the sadism, the wickedness, the perversity of the treatment given to citizens. It must show the officials themselves and the victims that, no matter how crazy and atrocious an action is, nothing will happen to those responsible. Only in this way will it plunge the citizens into a spirit of impotence. Only in this way will the feeling that we all live in danger spread. Only in this way will the conviction be imposed that whoever denounces or protests will inevitably be punished.

They work for the same employer, they are agents of the same project, they have the same assignment: to establish terror

The Venezuelan nation is a territory occupied by military or police or paramilitary units or by members of collectives or civilians dedicated to espionage, by groups that listen to phone calls, by informants, by surveillance and denunciation networks, by snitches that observe and tell supervisory officials any fact that can be interpreted as contrary to the interest of the dictatorship.

How effective has the establishment of a state of terror been in Venezuela, in which – let no one forget it – all public powers are constituent elements of it? Does it weigh on everyday life? Do citizens feel it in their daily development? Do they limit their free action? Does it prevent them from exercising essential rights such as the right to express themselves, to be informed, to give their opinion, to protest, to circulate freely, to stop on a street to observe what is happening? Does it prevent any Venezuelan who approaches a beach from seeing with the naked eye how much fuel has been spilled in a natural area of which he is a legitimate inhabitant? Does it prevent them from photographing or filming the events that occur at the roadblocks distributed throughout the territory, where they arbitrarily arrest citizens, where they are robbed, beaten, drugged or killed? Does it prevent them from meeting and protesting? Does it prevent them from attending rallies called by the opposition? Does it prevent them from greeting María Corina Machado, Andrés Velásquez or Freddy Superlano when they walk down any street or stop for a coffee in any corner of the country?

That’s what the terror in Venezuela is about: fear, citizen impotence, the impossibility of exercising constitutional rights, fear that, at the most unexpected moment (Venezuelan terror has a range of two hours, between 2:00 and 4:00 am, which is, in their vision of the world, the right time to reach a home where everyone sleeps, and knock down the door with kicks), a commando of hooded people, with long weapons, shouting and stealing, without an arrest warrant, will arrive, drag and kidnap you, a brutal scene that begins the worst nightmare.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in El Nacional and reproduced with the author’s permission.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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