We love to hate the National Guard. The Bolivarian Police, too. After experiencing their violent repression of peaceful civilian protesters, it’s little wonder. We see them as brutes or malandros that almost relish violence. It’s almost as if they couldn’t help their sadistic selves. It seems so easy for them to dole out violence. But why?

Violence is always difficult to dole out. We have hard-wired, instinctive reasons to shy away from it. You cringe at the sound of a gunshot or at the sight of a madman attacking someone with a knife —even if he isn’t attacking you. That cringe is your survival instinct telling you to get out of the dangerous situation, quick, or act against the threat if you can. Some people become paralyzed by fear when a violent threat arises. If this happens, don’t beat yourself up; it means you are not a psychopath. If you do not even cringe at the sound of a gunshot or other threat, chances are you have a personality disorder and your nearest military recruiter would love to hear from you!

Normal people have to be coaxed to overcome that shyness, so they’re able to effectively dole out violence. The National Guard and National Police, as institutions, are designed to do exactly that: to lower the inhibitions of people when it comes to administering violence.
Because they find themselves in an institution and a situation that’s finely tuned to make violence easier to dole out, if you’re going up against these guys, you owe it to yourself to understand how that institution and those situations work.

Going against security forces nude, might be more effective than throwing Molotov cocktails (or “Puputov” cocktails for that matter).

The training of security forces is actually designed to wring this survival instinct out of the soldiers or policemen. Training consists of exposing them to constant loud explosions and gunshots during grueling obstacle courses, so they get used to reacting “calmly” in situations of physical threat. The thing is, unless a member of the security forces is a true psychopath, the part of our survival instinct making violence difficult never goes away. Not entirely.

The most common way to trump this survival instinct making violence difficult to dole out may also be the ugliest: attacking the weak. In WWI some fighter pilot aces shot down dozens of enemy pilots because they chose to attack the ones that were not in complete control of their aircraft: novices.

Probably the best recent example of circumventing fear in attacking the weak during the Venezuelan protests was the infamous footage of a National Guard APC plowing through a group of protesters.

Charging through protesters’ bodies, the guardia is massively protected. They can throw Molotov cocktails at his rinoceronte, but that’s a gesture of defiance, not a real threat. He appears to come in defense of a peer of his–who was better protected than the protesters–and he does not keep on plowing more people, as he retreated (did he realize what he had just done?).

Another less dramatic and more commonly found example is this one from a “fight” between mostly young protesters and the National Guard on the 3rd of May in Caracas.

These are typical student protesters; armed mainly with rocks. The police are clearly better armed and protected. They have proper shields, protection from the “bats,” helmets, and guns. Yet, they do not seem completely at ease. They fire at what are mostly dispersed students with rocks at a distance (another pathway around the instinctual fear of carrying out violence). The targets are clearly weaker than they are, still they need to take steps to tamp down on the paralyzing fear of engaging in violence.

Something similar happens in the following example.

Here we can see the protesters are armed with some cheap motorcycle helmets, rocks, and makeshift, Age-of-Empires-style painted shields. The National Guards fire rubber pellets at a distance. They advance slowly behind the cover of their APCs, while firing tear gas canisters at the protesters and with the infamous water cannons. In this case they are attacking targets that are clearly weaker than them, at a distance, and they are immersing themselves in a group identity and technique.

The uniforms, helmets, shields, guns, APCs do more than provide a fighting advantage. They create a group identity that makes the guardsmen anonymous. This goes a long way to disarming the fear of committing violence. Throughout history warriors went into battle with their faces painted or wearing garments, in uniform with their fellow combatants, as this immersion in a common fighting technique controls the natural instinct to run away from the very dangerous place that is a battle. Some of the protesters are doing the same, as seen in the last video, by the use of makeshift shields and formations. This allows them to circumvent the fear of engaging a much better equipped opponent.

Group identity sets in: that’s another key ingredient if you want to dole out violence or even to resist it. It becomes the new “normal.” It creates a sort of social inertia. Once this happens, it is very difficult to break. From the point of view of the guardias and the pacos, what started out as orders from above to repress political opponents becomes into a fight to protect us from them. Repressing protesters violently becomes normal, because now they’re the other.

The most common way to trump this survival instinct making violence difficult to dole out may also be the ugliest: attacking the weak.

I am not trying to excuse the personal responsibility of security forces, or that of their superiors. My aim is just to explain why we should not expect any of them to be a hero, and join “el Pueblo” against the authoritarian government. Just like most of them are not going full Rambo against protesters, they are very unlikely to denounce the political regime and switch sides.

Going against security forces nude, might be more effective than throwing Molotov cocktails (or “Puputov” cocktails for that matter). Demonizing security forces as brutes or malandros dehumanizes them. It makes violence against them easier, which in turn lowers the emotional barriers for them to attack protesters more easily.

For the last 15 years, the training the security forces receive has gone out of its way to demonize political opponents. They’re significantly better equipped and armed than protesters, so this seems to be a pretty bad proposition. If there is a divisive break within the security forces my bet is that it might have to do more with the cash running out than with increasing confrontation between protesters and the National Guard.

I am not arguing in favor of running away when the tear gas rains down at a protest. But engaging security forces violently makes them more cohesive, the same happens to the brave young protesters up front in the protests. This dynamic assure that repression continues.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Exactly. The best strategy is to force them to face that human instinct that all those factors have managed to diminish in them. Responding violently is just what the regime wants; it makes their troops more loyal as the fight becomes one they see as defending themselves.

    You have to keep forcing them to acknowledge that what they are doing is not justifiable and is not what their supposed values are about. Yes, a lot of them are going to be psychopaths or too crooked to care, but those are already lost, what you want is the ones that are right now in that “us vs them” mode to have to face their revulsion and start questioning who is us and who is them

  2. Come the revolution the security forces have to be trained to be as tough as they need to be but no further , nurturing their sprit d corp as always will be very important , they have to be led by real experts who dont enjoy cruelty and can remain very cool while in the midst of a hot confrontation …..these are not regular army guys , these are (supposed to be ) professional repressive forces , specially organized to supress street expressions of protest with just the right dossage of force …., but shorn of any bursts of enraged fanaticism …!!

    What past experience shows is that a violent tribal spirit can makes the individuals within these forces go wild if given the lightest of encouragement. Discipline and a tight self control must be the first consideration in people chosen to form these contingents, !!

  3. Just for the record, there are many psychos in the armed forces precisely because the regime has drafted truckloads of malandros and gave them uniforms and weapons.

    That’s how one of them can run over a protester with a truck, then turn off the truck and take the keys away so the people can’t move the truck that’s crushing the woman it ran over:

    http://elcooperante.com/joven-fue-arrollada-por-camioneta-del-ivss-cuando-protestaba-en-guarico-fotos-y-video/

    Or this other one that murdered in cold blood a protester that was wounded in the ground.

    http://notitotal.com/2017/05/05/impactante-momento-exacto-gn-le-dispara-hecder-lugo-video/

    There are many guards and national policemen that are beyond salvation or redemption, and the only fate that awaits them in the best cases are decades locked up in a cell, and in worse cases being lynched by a furious mob.

    Also, the guy that climbed in birthday suit onto the tank? He didn’t went away that easily, his peaceful attitude was rewarded with a shotgun discharge on his back, filling his torso with pellets; and the badass granny that stood before the tank? She got a tear gas bomb just at her face, and was probably tortured for days after the nazional guards kidnapped her.

    You should also mention that this is the first time in 18 years that the people protesting isn’t simply running away like chickens at the sight if the first biker or the first green uniform, so it’s not like protesters have been violent from the start, what happened is a mixture of plain brainwashing and purging any person with a basic sense of decency to keep the armed corps filled with the worst kind of criminals.

    In time, there will be those that will defect and join the resistance, but they’ll do it only once when they realize that the cost of keep obeying the orders of repressing and slaughtering people will be higher than the cost of disobeying said orders.

  4. I remember hearing the news that some higher members of the military have recently been detained because of not being trustworthy an more. Anybody knows about that?

    Might be the beginning of the end if Maduro can´t trust the mitilitary any more.

  5. Not all of them are lost

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/riot-police-on-venezuelas-front-lines-seek-a-way-out-1495013403

    The opposition needs to find a way out for them. If they do, the regime dies. Read the whole thing, it talks about desertion, it talks about GNB being confined to barracks for weeks and surviving on one arepa a day. It talks about riot police wanting this to end.

    The malandros, the psycopaths and the fanatics exist. But they are not 100% of the forces. It is critical to find a way to open that crack wide.

    • That’s why megaphones in the hands of protesters are more dangerous than machineguns for the regime.

      That’s the thing, there are still some that could be useful, and that will side with the people sooner or later.

  6. This goes completely against what the WSJ reported, just shows how tone-deaf some intellectuals are, instead of actually going to the source and finding out what they really think, as Anatoly Kurmanaev did for the WSJ.

  7. “Normal people have to be coaxed to overcome that shyness, so they’re able to effectively dole out violence. The National Guard and National Police, as institutions, are designed to do exactly that: to lower the inhibitions of people when it comes to administering violence.”

    Do they really need to be ‘coaxed’ to do anything bad? Hasn’t Capriles said that they have recruited inmates to curb the protests? Anyone who have already watched a fair amount of those videos in which the, let’s say, ‘guards’, try to control the situation, know that one thing that they are not is being “normal people”.

    They are really malandros!

    And they are the most despicable kind of people in the revolution! They are really the ‘scum’ of society, and I mean that literally, not only as an adjective, because they are really the bottom of the bottom, not only morally, but also socially/economically/culturally. I doubt that most of them were raised with a father at home, some not even with a mother.

    Thus, they are the idiots who stay behind echoing PSUV’s slogan of the day and remain killing the kids protesting after their bosses move overseas with the pockets full of money to live large for, at least, three generations!

    And if you analyze carefully the corrupt chavista core/boliburgueses, you will notice that they at least gave a better life to their immediate families, so their intentions were not all bad. Because to help family members is good, right? There was some vestige of goodness in their hearts. And their kids are living wonderfully now: http://elcooperante.com/criados-en-revolucion-asi-disfrutan-su-fortuna-los-herederos-de-estos-chavistas-fotos/

    But what about those idiot, poor guards, who arrive at home after a day of beating innocent people just to see their familes even thiner and their wages buying less than on the day before ? How what they do can be explained? I can only think that they do it because they are sadistic, morally bankrupt people and care about no one, not even about themselves! They thrive in chaos! They like it!!! No one had to train them for that.

    The other day I saw CC’s twitter account talking about a MAD MAX style motorizado caravan in some street in Caracas. And the comparison is excellent! GNB/PNB are the Warboys! Anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on in Venezuela just have to watch that movie to know EXACTLY what’s going on there!

  8. In conclusion: a morir callaos? So don’t provoke the police and guardia. In Venezuela policeman and guardias come from the worst of society. Anyone that has had to deal with them knows that. Robberies, kidnappings, car thefts (for ramson), extorsions, they are involved in all those businesses.
    A way out for them? To continue on their “businesses”? Are you f… kidding? Talk about being disconnected from reality.

  9. This explains why the GNB and PNB fight against armed oppo combatants, i.e. young men with rocks, clubs, helmets, and shields.

    It does not explain why they beat journalists and steal their cameras, assault peaceful demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets, make illegal arrests, torture captives, or stand idle while colectivos commit assault, loot and vandalize, and fire guns into building or at crowds.

  10. Keep in mind that GNB is a designated drug cartel / criminal organization in the 2009 GAO report and keep in mind that many of these troops are cluster B types meaning they are narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, and borderlines. If you are unaware of this subject then I suggest you look it up. The regime is cult like too with it’s brainwashing and manipulation. Easily 5 percent are hopelessly​ pathological meaning character disordered and this number can be as high as 20 percent IMO.

    The Cubans are experts at identifying​ and weeding or cultivating these types. They do it at all levels from Fidel’s embracing of HCF to covert intelligence agents like Eva Golinger to handpicked cabinet posts and military officers. They know who has the disorder (virtues in their book) and they embrace them. Their brains are wired differently. They have no empathy thus no problem commiting atrocities. This is the group that will fight till the end when a superior and overwhelming force causes them to give up or die. Many will flee.

  11. If you are right, then something as simple as asking their names (even if they don’t answer) might/would work as a reminder of humanity for some of them. Just one public defector in the middle of a march would convey a strong message.

    • One of the points of the post is that situational forces are powerful. Even if a group of security forces are not psychopaths or anything of the sort, it would be difficult for one of them to be the “hero” and defect publicly. And even if that happen, my guess is that not many others would fallow suit.

      • While the buddy ‘us them’ instinct helps keep most of them in line there will always be some whose minds have been rewired to take macho pride in being hard line/thuggish …..the thing to keep in mind about the former is that once someone defects the erosion will tend to become unstoppable……., about the second ‘toughies’ group they find backbone in being part of a throng so once isolated they flee and run ….

      • They don’t have to defect right there on the spot, that’s simply impossible with the manure-filled castrista snitches around, shouting slogans with a megaphone in the middle of a protest, not insulting the guards, but telling them how fucked they are thanks to the revolution’s big fat bosses and how they want the soldiers to risk their lives to continue this hell forever, and you’ll be planting the seed for dissention in their minds.

        Of course, this is something the MUD leaders and speakers would never do, because it’s completely off their table to even talk something slightly negative about the criminals that control the country and they insist on “winning the hearts of the people promising them more populism”

  12. WSJ World News: Venezuelan Riot Police Tire of Front-Line Duties
    Anatoly Kurmanaev
    726 words
    18 May 2017

    CARACAS, Venezuela — When Ana, a five-year veteran of the national police, finishes her night shift patrolling this city’s dangerous slums, she often arrives home only to pick up her riot gear and head out again to confront rolling protests against Venezuela’s embattled government.
    On those front lines, she and her colleagues use tear gas and rubber bullets against increasingly desperate protesters armed with stones, Molotov cocktails and even bags of feces. The showdowns take place in scorching heat, and she says the authorities provide her with no food, water or overtime pay.
    Ana, who like others cited in this article asked that her last name not be used for fear of official retribution, is one of about 100,000 Venezuelan security officers, mostly in their 20s, shielding the government of increasingly unpopular President Nicolas Maduro from escalating unrest.
    She and many of her exhausted colleagues say they are wavering as protests enter a seventh week with no end in sight. “One day I will step aside and just walk away, blend into the city,” she said. “No average officers support this government anymore.”
    The security forces’ once fierce loyalty to Mr. Maduro’s charismatic predecessor Hugo Chavez has largely given way to demoralization, exhaustion and apathy amid an economic collapse and endless protests, said eight security officers from different forces and locations in interviews with The Wall Street Journal.
    Most of them say they want only to earn a steady wage amid crippling food shortages and a decimated private sector. Others say fear of a court-martial keeps them in line.
    “I would love to quit but there are no other jobs,” said Caracas police officer Viviane, a single mother who says she shows up for protest duty so she can feed her infant son.
    A full-time Venezuelan police officer or member of the National Guard, the militarized police in charge of riot control, makes the minimum wage of about $40 a month at black-market exchange rates.
    The current round of protests, triggered in late March by an attempt by judges allied with Mr. Maduro to dissolve the congress, have led to 43 deaths so far, mostly of protesters. Thousands of demonstrators have been arrested and hundreds are being tried in military courts for treason.
    The epicenter of the protests has been the line where downtown Caracas meets the opposition-run eastern boroughs of the capital. Both sides view control of the city center as vital. The last large antigovernment march that managed to reach the presidential palace there led to a short-lived coup in 2002 against Mr. Chavez. The opposition says the increasingly isolated government is scared of losing control if a rally breaches its stronghold.
    “This is a war of attrition,” said Luis Garcia, a student activist who has been at the forefront of the protests. “Whoever tires first will lose.”
    Most days follow the same pattern: An initially peaceful demonstration descends into violence as security forces fire tear gas and rubber bullets to block the protesters’ advance. The bulk of the demonstrators then flee, leaving the field to hundreds of hooded youths who call themselves the Resistance, build barricades and battle officers into the night.
    “I don’t fear death, because this life is crap,” said Agustin, a 22-year-old Resistance member who blames Mr. Maduro for the collapse of education and job opportunities.
    Most guardsmen in Caracas have been confined to barracks since the protests erupted in late March, without seeing their families, according to several guardsmen.
    “I feel exhausted from it all: the lack of sleep, the constant barrage of stones and Molotovs,” said Gustavo, a 21-year-old national guardsman., adding he has to keep performing riot duty despite a leg injury from a broken bottle thrown by a protester. “We’re being used as cannon fodder.”
    Officers stopped giving time off in Gustavo’s barracks after 18 guardsmen deserted during the last break last month, he said.
    Policewoman Ana says she no longer wears her uniform on the way to work to avoid being spit on or insulted by passersby. “I’m ashamed to say I’m a police officer,” she said.

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