When Repression is not Enough

“We have to take them back, Doctor, they are terrorists”

Those are the words that GNB officers who caught a young Venezuelan during last Monday’s rally in Caracas used to try to convince the doctor curing his wounds to let them take him to jail.

The account of his sadistic arrest, published in Prodavinci this week, offers a glimpse into the lengths that the Venezuelan government’s repression machine is willing to go through to sow terror among protesters.

“Terrorists” is the most recent adjective the government is using to describe the thousands Venezuelans who have taken to the streets of every major city, asking for a change the country badly needs.

After begging them to kill him and end his pain once and for all, he tried to use the sewer known as the Guaire river as an escape route.

On April 10th he, like countless men and women —most of them too young to know democracy except for the stories they’ve heard from their parents—woke up wishing to play a role in the historical moment Venezuela faces, as an unexpected wave of protests and public demonstrations took the Venezuelan opposition out of a five months-long coma.

A few hours later he was laying on the ground, choking in a cloud of tear gas while being brutally beaten by a pair of GNB officers. After begging them to kill him and end his pain once and for all, he tried to use the sewer known as the Guaire river as an escape route. He failed and got a tear gas canister shot to the chest to remind him of what happens to fugitives. In the meantime his mother was unsuccessfully trying to contact him after seeing a picture of him being dragged away from the mass of protesters by the GNB on a friend’s Facebook wall.

He was so bruised and battered when presented to the Attorney’s office meant to prosecute his case, that they refused to accept him until he and the other protesters captured were seen by a doctor. That’s why he was taken to a hospital where the doctor on duty did her best to cure his wounds and refused to give him back to his captors.

He was so bruised and battered when presented to the Attorney’s office, they refused to accept him until he was seen by a doctor.

Primun non nocere is is the maxim that physicians around the world are taught to guide our practice. It’s Latin for “first do no harm,” one of  the promises we make when we graduate.

Giving that man back to the GNB would’ve been extremely harmful.

That phrase is the reason why this guy, this anonymous 22 year-old Venezuelan isn’t being tortured in some Helicoide cell as I write these lines, that phrase is the reason why his story is being told, and not used as a forged testimony by some overweight general to blame Julio Borges or Freddy Guevara of being the tropical version of Osama Bin Laden.

Five people have died as a result of the Venezuelan regime and its para-military forces’ repression. Almost 300 of them are currently detained, some without even knowing what they are being accused of; countless others were illegally held captive, beaten, threatened and then released to spread the word of what the revolution does to its adversaries.

To the forces claiming to be their protectors, demonstrators are terrorists. Just another imaginary enemy to be vanquished by a government that so far has only managed to destroy the fear through which they sought to silence a whole nation.

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