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Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: Know Fear

By Juan Cristobal Nagel in Caracas Chronicles:

Know fear

Because I can…

The lingering question as we conclude Human Rights week is – why? What are the authorities looking for? Are they looking to stoke the protests? Do they want them to tire out? Is the goal to physically disappear key protestors? Or, perhaps, to repress completely, to simply take away Venezuelans’ fundamental rights thoroughly, such as was done in Cuba?

I think all of these explanations fall short. The goal of what we have seen is to instill fear.

Whether it is by shooting people who are already in custody, driving them around the city before leaving them in detention centers (called “ruleteo,” a common practice in express kidnappings carried out by criminals), denying them access to legal counsel, releasing them on parole by forcing them to come back and sign at the courthouse, preventing detainees who are acquitted from leaving the country, or flaunting their complete impunity, the message is clear: we want you to be afraid of us.

There is a name for this: a state-led terror campaign. Someone, somewhere decided that the government’s response to protests is for the population to fear the government.

We knew this was going to happen. Way back when Chávez died, we realized that Chávez’s charisma meant that heavy-handed repression was kept under control. But Maduro isn’t Chávez, and he is much more trigger-happy as a consequence. In theory, what we have witnessed should come as no surprise.

Still, the expected can sometimes be quite shocking.

1 comment to Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: Know Fear

  • asombra

    Ah, "Chavez's charisma," presumably analogous to the much-vaunted "charisma" of Fidel Castro. People throw that term around as if it were an indisputable fact, a given, an automatic qualifier, but what it really indicates is mindlessness, taking a cliche for granted, or at least undiscerning judgment. Chavez was a vulgar, crude, thuggish ape, a crass Latrine demagogue of the worst kind, and those who fall for such a creature are pitiful at best, though no doubt many are worse.

    As for Fidel, he tried to go the conventional political route before going "revolutionary," but his supposed charisma proved strangely impotent--he couldn't even manage to get elected student body president at the University of Havana. However, once he packaged and marketed himself (with lots of outside help) as a suitably fashionable embodiment of leftist fantasies, he sold pretty damn well--as the conveniently dead Che would later do with the help of comparable packaging and marketing. To put it another way, people who genuinely find Chavez or Fidel charismatic are like people who really think any number of painfully overrated and ridiculously hyped show biz celebrities are major artists. Stupidity happens. A lot.