Venezuelan Anarchist framed, detained and tortured by Maduro’s police

  • Posted on: 27 July 2017
  • By: thecollective

From Sharp and Pointed (translated from the original in Spanish)

(We received this a few days ago from our Venezuelan comrades connected with El Libertario. It begins with a note from our compañeros/as announcing a series of pieces on the current rebellion and repression — arrests, beatings, and torture — of anarchist and other protesters by the “leftist” Maduro regime, and expressing thanks to those who spread this information.

The images interspersed below showing the aftermath of the beatings are pretty large. Please scroll past them to continue reading the interview.)

Beginning on April 4, 2017, a popular rebellion has been developing against the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. We’ll shortly be sending out a series of interviews with compañeros/as who have been detained and tortured for protesting. We appreciate the translation and dissemination of these interviews in other languages.

Anonymous Rebel: “Organize in whatever way you want, with whomever you want, but don’t be complicit.”

In the first days of July, in the city of Maracaibo in the state of Zulia, an anarchist comrade was arrested by the Bolivarian [federal] National Police (PNB) with the complicity of officials attached to the public transportation system of that city. In order to protect him from physical retaliation, we’re using the pseudonym “Anonymous
Rebel” here.

We spoke with him after he was released from the detention site. He’s currently well, but he was beaten during both his arrest and imprisonment and is under an order to present himself to the police once a week. In good spirits, he spoke with us about how the popular rebellion is progressing.

Can you comment on how you were arrested and if you were tortured?

In the area where I live, the people have been protesting, and I’ve always been participating in these peaceful protests with everyday people such as medics, hairdressers, people distributing free food, everyone from kids to old people.

Everything was going fine until a group of about 30 people, some in the uniform of the Metro [public transit system], poured out of the Metro station to intimidate us. They shot at us and hurled rocks at us, and we went running, with them coming after us, accompanied by the Bolivarian National Police, throwing rocks at houses, apartment buildings, and vehicles.

My arrest was a set-up because [we had stopped] to tell a regional policeman that we weren’t shooting and that it was those who had come out of the metro with rocks in one hand and a pistol in the other.


The aftermath of a beating by Nicolás Maduro’s police

Then to our surprise, we were attacked from behind by the PNB, in what quickly took on the appearance of a battlefield, with tear gas all over the place. We ran, but the PNB on motorcycles tried to corner me two or three times, until they finally got me and arrested me for carrying a bag. They got me down on the ground and battered me with their shields. [Translator’s note: This appears to be a standard tactic with the PNB. They beat their victims to the ground and then slam down the bottoms of their heavy plastic shields on their bodies.] Then, giving us some kicks, they threw me and some other people into a paddywagon.

Later my compañera and another arrested woman arrived, and they took us to the command post of the Guardia at 7:00 pm, where they produced planted evidence to incriminate us: Molotov cocktails, a bag with sharp wire spikes protruding, and the helmets she and I had been wearing. They let my compañera go in the early morning hours, the other woman later in the morning, and they detained me [and other male protesters].

They never read us our rights, and it was until days later that they allowed me a call, which I didn’t make myself, but rather a guard called my family telling them to bring me clothing while I was detained.

Were you in a cell with other detainees? How were the conditions?

They didn’t put us in a cell, because the jail in that command post was full. There were 40 other people there on various charges besides the protesters, so they put us on the patio and handcuffed us. At 5:00 am they woke us so we could shower. I should mention that I didn’t sleep the entire night, because of the anxiety and helplessness I felt. Five minutes to shower on a patio where there was only a hole in the ground in which to piss and shit.

At this time, an anti-mutiny squad arrived, and four of them, while we were showering, began striking us on our legs, butts, and backs, saying, “These damn anti-Chavistas, we should leave them in a ditch. I don’t know why they brought them here.”

There were two kids of 14 and another aged 17, who they also beat, one of whom, one of the 14-year-olds, when he was arrested they threw to the ground, along with other protestors, and threw the powder or crystals from their tear gas bombs directly on them and then threw water so that the chemicals would penetrate, causing allergic reactions and skin damage.

During the five days I was detained, which I passed under the sun on the patio, they only allowed us to use the toilet facilities [the hole in the ground] twice a day no matter when we ate. Our families could bring us food, but I learned after I was released that the guards had stolen one lunch and dinner my family brought for me.

Here I should thank the Centro de Atención Manos Solidarias along with the everyday people who donated to the imprisoned protesters. I had enough food, but the detainees whose families didn’t supply any benefited greatly from the aid of this social center. We were very grateful for the aid.

How did your detention affect your family and other loved ones?

My mother is 65 years old and disabled, and is in delicate health, but she was strong and was there every day. I thought a lot about her health, but my compañera is the best, and took good care of her. It’s in these moments when one realizes who your true friends and comrades are. Many of the neighborhood people supported us, some monetarily, and some with food and transport. We’re very grateful for their solidarity!

How is life in Maracaibo?

Maracaibo is a difficult city [in which to live], perhaps because the heat makes us so irritable. There’s a very noticeable discontent. The quality of life grows worse with every passing day, as everyone notices. The stereotype of the Maracaiboan is of someone paunchy, but there are [now] many skinny people who are going without necessities.

People have been protesting here since 2015. There is no apathy [in the political sense].

Why do you protest? What impels you to participate in this militant form of popular mobilization?

I’ve been protesting for several years, always anonymously. I don’t like being out front, and I don’t want any praise for doing it; I do it because I’m fed up with the situation, tired of dealing with screwed-up situation after screwed-up situation just to make enough money to buy food day after day. I’m tired of living in a militarist country where we pay taxes to feed those who treat us so badly.

I have my point of view about the protests I go to. We can’t talk about anarchism there and the people aren’t interested in it, the true rebels who put their bodies behind a placard. The majority that I’ve seen only want to get rid of this government, and it doesn’t matter to them what comes after. They only want to get rid of this band of the inept and corrupt. There’s a lot of solidarity in the protests; we’re all equal, brothers and sisters in the struggle.

Is it worth the trouble.

It’s always worth the trouble to fight for your rights, as it always should be; our discontent should be open and should be clear — we can’t remain paralyzed with fear; it’s necessary to overcome it.

Do you think that after 100 days we’re experiencing a popular rebellion?

Today, July 10, 2017, I think that each day we’re coming closer to a popular rebellion, in that every day the people become less attached to MUD [the opposition coalition] and any political party. They’re fed up with MUD. Today I can say that thanks to this government there’s a rebellious youth, with experience in the street and that, whatever government we’re saddled with, they’re prepared and ready to defend our rights and liberties.

What do you think of the cliche that we shouldn’t support the protests because they benefit the right?

That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen and heard. I don’t got out to play games with the MUD, who go out to protests and ask the people who resist which party they belong to. Every day people become less and less tied to the political parties.

How do you see the silence of many overseas anarchists about what’s happening in Venezuela?

In the end, I’ve felt with respect to the great majority of such “anarchists” who whine on social networks and say that they won’t come out [and say anything] because there are groups like the National Rebirth [Renacer Nacional] that are fascist, that are political manipulators. But that’s no reason to remain silent.

It’s necessary to fight for our ideals. It doesn’t matter who’s out there. We need to organize however you want, with whomever you want. But don’t be complicit! Don’t be critical of everything! Don’t be “anarcho” window dressing. Enough with indifference. When you see your brothers and sisters falling, it’s time to fight.

What should be the posture of anarchists in regard to the future?

It’s time that anarchists get in tune with history, get out on the streets to struggle against militarism, against hunger, against corruption, against the injustices they rail against in fanzines, songs, and the poetic fusillades of intellectuals. It’s time that Venezuelan anarchists take to the streets with a clear message and unite with the resistance.


Released political protesters/prisoners in Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela

I also hope for the creation of a serious bloc of anarchists that could become the Anarchist Network, that in truth would not consist of fanzines or music of one band or another. NO. One can’t believe in true anarchist fronts or movements advancing the struggle. It’s necessary to become involved in the barrios, the community councils, in one’s community. It’s necessary for all to say that in this moment, in this totally divided country, that’s broken into two pieces, if not many more, that we ought to take advantage of this space to say who we are and for what we struggle.

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Comments

"Venezuelan Anarchist framed, detained and tortured by Maduro’s police" people have a choice, to be a police officer or not. It is said that Hitler, personally, never killed anyone. Be it Trump, Maduro whoever, people have to realise such names are backed up by people who may be relatives and/or neighbours. Articles, sadly, focus on the figureheads and not the people who support such individuals. It is that often said 'get-out' clause: "I'm just doing my job, following orders." If only people would think beyond the figureheads.

Yes! I find it a correct anarchistic analysis, as hierarchies are made of hierarchical relations of authority, obedience, submission and domination; chain of command; master/slave; husband/wife; parent/children; teacher/student... and so on. Hierarchs and authority figures are just part of the social game of Hierarchy, they aren't the Hierarchy itself.

But it's on the other hand a very authoritarian mindset -even if discreet and liberal- to be blaming responsibility on the single individual in charge at the top of the pyramid. Adolf himself was telling his troops to wave off responsibility for their actions and put them on his shoulders. Responsibilities he obviously never taken upon himself, as it is so usual for despots. History shows that they tend to be running away to a safe seclusion somewhere, instead of "going King Theoden" on their adversaries... (the Theoden story arc being just another romantic nostalgia of "better times" when leaders used to not be cowards... which may have been true only in a few historical instances). The shameful secret of despots is that they are actually cowards in most cases.

Hence, the hierarchy as a RELATIONSHIP is the thing to wage war upon, and it is what I think defines an anarchist, in no matter what is their practice. There's unlimited potentials for such a fight, as much as there are relations of domination and authority developing around.

Of course we must support our tortured brave comrade, but now is not a good moment to attack the 'corrupt and inept' Chavists. Even the head of the CIA admitted they are involved 2 days ago ("CIA chief hints agency is working to change Venezuelan government ")... The leaders of MUD are the SAME PEOPLE involved in the failed 2002 coup. If they win food subsidies, health benefits, free education.. bad as they are will disappear for sure and Venezuela will have its assets sold off cheap to feed the rich, just like what's happening in Brazil. All the western neo liberal media and Trump are backing the opposition. Our comrade says"The majority that I’ve seen only want to get rid of this government, and it doesn’t matter to them what comes after''. That's a mistake I think, what comes after is surely MUCH WORSE, but it's an understandable mistake with the mass poverty caused by the oil crash and helped by government corruption.I think the European left are silent because they oppose BOTH SIDES

"fight the cops of tomorrow, not today!"

good mentality, I'm sure our tortured comrades appreciate the advice

"...the mass poverty caused by the oil crash and helped by government corruption..." A couple of points here: oil crash and mass poverty. Oil crash and mass poverty is possibly a very good reason why a country should not rely on ONE 'asset' and mass poverty means too many people relying on one asset? Cuba had similar when Russia cut Cuba with the result that Cuba readjusted using much less fossil fuel imports. The quicker Venezulan people take control of the fundamental basics such as food, water and shelter, the better. This doesn't apply to just Venezuela of course, it applies to all of us who are, at this time, totally dependent on those who control. When the supermarket shelves are empty, people soon realise all to clearly there us no independence in having a job. To be in control of one's food, water and shelter is peace of mind and that has never changed. That's why the megalomaniacs seize control of the basics with the sickening support from one's neighbours/relativex who join the police, the army etc.

Tankies will defend this. Also, the currency exchange controls are part of the problem, it's not just the oil prices:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/the-fall-of-the-latin-american-le...

"Almost any economist, be it a leftist modern monetary theorist, a more centrist liberal or a hard-line right-wing Austrian, would spot trouble if presented with the scenario that began to grow in Venezuela after the foreign sector reforms of 2003: high inflation combined with a fixed exchange rate. Things get a bit technical here, but they can be understood in practical terms.

What happens is that, for anyone who holds part of the increasing amount of local currency (in this case, Venezuela’s bolívares), everything else in the economy is getting nominally more expensive except the foreign bills that the Central Bank holds and sells at a fixed price. So buying that foreign currency (or any imported product) becomes the best business of the land, more so with every day that passes.

That leads to two dire consequences. First, local production becomes unsustainable, as it can’t compete with increasingly cheap foreign imports. Next, the Central Bank runs out of foreign currency reserves, after giving them away at what in real, inflation-adjusted terms is an increasingly cheap price. That means that importing becomes less and less viable too, as the country has nothing to pay for it."

maybe it would be good reading this article about Venezuela also: http://voidnetwork.gr/2017/08/04/americas-war-venezuela-fascists-get-fight/

Maduro is a paranoid anti-anarchist <>

Though the Venezuelan project and the Bolivarian project has some potentialities and there's no doubt medical care, shelter, and food are more available for the poor and the autonomous communes and community councils are a bigger step then most socialist state supported projects have taken. But the state is still a managerial class with it's own cronyism and favoritism. Workers struggle like that of the miners is repressed brutally. War is waged on native peoples who try to defend their "good life" and the ecosystem from devastating resource extraction. Maduro had been caving to capitalist interests. The constituent assembly is far from the horizontal council model it's supposed to be echoing. The police still exist and they still protect private property. Private property still exist and the bourgoisie were left to bourgoisie and also to plot. Capitalism contains contradictions, isn't that obvious? Socialist influenced mixed economy contains even more. What the fuck do people think is going to happen when you comprimise to the rich and then repress protests violently without really destroying the root causes such as the existance of class society that doesn't live up to the dreams of the rich or sometimes even the poor.

Obviously the US has tried multiple coups, economic attacks, etc and it backs capitalists and legit neoFash forces that are part of this oposition movement that started as a sort of astroturf plaza occupation esque movement. And sanctions, US interference etc should be fought, but we should say what only anarchists can say and highlight the flaws of what's left of Chavismo and the Bolivarian project. We should join those who fought for a horizontal socialism like the water warriors of the co-ordinadora and indeginious people in Bolivia in condeming the betrayal of the rulers(http://upsidedownworld.org/archives/bolivia/democracy-from-below-in-boli... http://www.latinamericansocialmovements.org/) and we should not parrot anti-imperialists who would have us believing Bashar Al-Assad or the Chinese state or Russia or Iran or the DPRK are some sort of socialists or anti-imperialists or a defenders of oppressed people and not oppressive forces of counter-revolution themselves.

pieces on venezuela:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism_in_Venezuela

https://insurrectionnewsworldwide.com/2017/04/20/venezuela-anarchists-sp...

https://libcom.org/library/madurization-chavismo-anarchist-statement-ven...

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/03/ken-livingstone-venezue...

oops there was supposed to be a quote at the begining \\\In October 2013, Chávez's successor, President Nicolás Maduro, accused unionist workers of the SIDOR steel company of being behind regional unemployment, denouncing them as "anarcho-syndicalist populists".///

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