I was on a bus from Chacao to Altamira the other day. A woman sitting in front of me was reading Les Miserables as we passed by a newsstand with a graffiti that read “Maduro Dictador.” I arrived at the plaza to see the ashes from the previous night’s barricades, broken glass everywhere, a faint smell of burned debris and kids with covered faces, bandaged arms and legs and hard helmets styling themselves La Resistencia as they asked for money from passing cars.

As I walked around the plaza I stumbled upon an improvised monument. Scribblings on the floor commemorated Juan Pernalete, who had died after being hit in the chest with a tear-gas canister on that spot a couple of weeks earlier; images of a hazy battle that has been raging on the streets of Caracas for two months now.

“Is this what war feels like?” I wonder.

I can’t help but think of the Spanish Civil War, of the fantasies or ghosts lurking somewhere in my mind stemming from my grandparents’ final days in Barcelona. Of a war that at times was fought on the same streets women walked down to go to the market and kids played fútbol on. Of a war that tore a country apart and landed my family on another continent after leaving everything, even the language they spoke, behind. I just now realize how much time I spend imagining my grandparents’ lives. Caracas has somehow become reminiscent of things I never knew.

Ervin Staub, the social psychologist, has studied the rise of mass violence in different contexts: Argentina during the dictatorships, Nazi Germany, the genocide of the Armenians in Turkey, the killings perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. He argues that mass violence develops slowly through “less harmful acts that cause changes in individual perpetrators, bystanders, and the whole group that make more harmful acts possible.”

It feels like war, like in fantasy, like in the movies. But it just might be death. Horror. Senseless murder.

He explains how, through justifications, a group can progress towards increasingly violent acts against another group, until killing becomes far from extraordinary, and commonplace. He lists off some of the conditions that aid this process along:

  • Long term hardship that threatens self preservation and collective identity can speed the process.
  • Unable to meet people’s needs, perverse leaders resort to scapegoating a particular group to deflect attention from real problems.
  • Ideologies develop that support authoritarianism and the use of violence as a legitimate option.
  • Euphemisms are employed to help erase one’s own group’s destructiveness.

I’ve been using Staub’s work to think through present day Venezuela for some time now. Sometimes his work reads like our own pergamino de Melquíades, a guide to Venezuela’s ascent through the different steps towards mass violence written long before the fact.

Our government has been militarized and its language is increasingly that of war. It seems to thrive on finding new ways of celebrating violence, from “a peaceful but armed revolution” to “operations to liberate the people”. They seem to be always fighting a war be it economic, asymmetrical, non-conventional, third generation, psychological or what have you. They seem to long for enemies.

On the other hand, institutions made to ensure that the social contract is respected by all parties have been trampled on to the point that institutionalized ways of resolving conflict have lost all respect.

Like Jalisco, chavismo gana o arrebata.

Negotiated solutions have been betrayed so many times that most people have come to distrust dialogue as such. Positions have become entrenched. The city is a mosaic of trenches. Territories are closed off to protesters. To disagree is to be labeled a traitor. Meanwhile the bodies of the dead keep piling up.

In his latest novel Javier Cercas returns to the Spanish Civil War to reflect on the death of his grandfather’s brother, who went off to war as a teenager. He digs up a story that had been buried in his family closet, suppressed because this relative had fought “on the wrong side of history” —in Tintori’s manichaean scheme— alongside the franquistas. Cercas wonders through the novel what passions drove that young man towards a senseless and brutal war.

Mass violence develops slowly through ‘less harmful acts that cause changes in individual perpetrators, bystanders…’

One of the things that has surprised me in the recent marches is the droves of young men and women that come dressed in what has now become a sort of uniform: white shirts, jeans, an improvised head scarf to protect themselves from tear-gas, a glove to throw back the canisters, decorated shields to ward off proyectiles from the National Guard…For an instant, there’s a camaraderie, a sense of of hope. The momentum of youth.

They come in small groups, kids of all shapes and sizes. Some, very young, exude innocence. Cercas writes that his mother’s favorite uncle, sought to die what the Greeks called kalos thanatos, the death of Achilles, the most beautiful of deaths: a young man fighting in a war for his ideals, dying at the peak of life, avoiding the decrepitude of old age. In the marches I hear adults applauding these groups of youngsters. Soon something begins to feel very wrong.

George Orwell also wrote about his experience as a young man fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Homage to Catalonia recounts with loving detail the solidarity he feels in Barcelona, a city that seems vibrant with hope. But it ends, only six months later, with the disillusionment of having witnessed the atrocities of war and the distrust that soon becomes a plague, even between allies, as well as the backstabbing and political rivalries that tear the republican front apart. He soon becomes weary of idealists, revolutionaries, the querulous intelligentsia, the fashionable left-wingers writing from abroad, who seem to supply gasoline to the fire.

Not much later, in 1940, Orwell writes an essay on Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer titled “Inside the Whale”. There, he cautions against the banal references to death that appear in much of his generation’s criticism. Referring to Auden, who had been writing about “necessary death,” he comments:

“It could only be written by a person to whom murder is at most a word. Personally I would not speak so lightly of murder. It so happens that I have seen the bodies of numbers of murdered men I don’t mean killed in battle, I mean murdered. Therefore I have some conception of what murder means the terror, the hatred, the howling relatives, the post-mortems, the blood, the smells. To me, murder is something to be avoided.”

Our government has been militarized and its language is increasingly that of war.

Orwell later names these writers “permanent adolescents”.

Venezuela is plagued by murder, not by war, but by thugs of different sorts either of delinquent gangs or of uniformed security forces. In March, the Prosecutor General not only rejected the Supreme Court’s illegal dissolution of the General Assembly, she also mentioned that there had been 21,752 homicides committed in 2016; 4,667 of them by government forces.

It takes a while for that to sink in. 4,667.

More than ten Venezuelans were murdered by government forces on an average day.

It feels like war, like in fantasy, like in the movies. But it just might be death. Horror. Senseless murder. After one recent march, a young man by the name of Orlando Figuera was beaten and burned to death by opposition protesters. According to government sources it was because he was identified as a chavista. According to the Prosecutor in charge of the case, it was because he was accused of theft. Susan Sontag wrote: “to the militant, identity is everything”. Either way, it’s difficult to salvage any sort of ideal from this horrific scene.

I listened to a radio interview with the parents of Neomar Lander, who died on the seventh of June. The government was very quick to judge and sentence his death as the result of the explosion of a home-made mortar. Videos show a tear-gas canister being shot directly in his direction. Neomar’s parents seem to be humble people. Neomar was seventeen years old and wanted to study to be a bartender. He attended the marches along with his mother.

In the interview she seems to be struggling to give meaning to such a terrible tragedy. The interviewer asks the father if he thinks that his death will be worth it, if he thinks his son is a hero or a victim, then stumbles a bit and reframes the question stating: “He, in fact, is a victim.”

The subtle hesitation is relevant.

If there is a thread that joins the rise and fall of chavismo to the tragic death of Neomar, it might well be our need for heroes. The symptom is our call for epic battles, the sickness our inability to create human, rational, practical, down to earth solutions to social conflict, instead of appealing to epic revolutions. His father answers tellingly: “I didn’t want a hero, I wanted a son in my house. And if his death was or not worthwhile, I don’t know.”

Venezuela is plagued by murder, not by war, but by thugs of different sorts either of delinquent gangs or of uniformed security forces.

Towards the end of his novel, which follows his family’s experience closely, Cercas chronicles the dying days of the war, the accumulation of senseless destruction that led to decades of authoritarian darkness in Spain.

It wasn’t a fight between the rich and poor as some wanted to believe. It was a fight between those who could barely eat and those who could not, while a military strongman took advantage of it all.

In the end, Cercas finds a set of documents written by his dead great-uncle, expressing his hope to leave the army and return home.

“What I found out was that Manuel Mena had not always been a young idealist, a provincial intellectual blinded by the romantic and totalitarian brightness of the Falange, and that at some point in the war he had stopped sharing the idea of war that young idealists have, of a place where men find their true self and their real worth. For a moment I told myself that Manuel Mena not only had gotten to know the noble, beautiful, ancient fiction of war that Velásquez painted, but also the horrific reality painted by Goya.”

Cercas recalls Ulysses meeting with Achilles in the mansion of the dead at the end of the Odyssey, when the former congratulates the latter on his heroism and comments that he must surely be the monarch of the dead. After which Achilles begs him to avoid trying to console him from the tragedy of having died at such a young age.

We are suffering the result of a demented State, prepared to wage war on civilians, determined to carry on despite the objections of an overwhelming majority, ready to rule even if only over ruins, covered by the bodies of the young. We are suffering the consequences of years of dismantling institutions created to negotiate solutions to social conflict. We are suffering from years of applauding military leaders, and buying into their fantasies of vindication. We are suffering from our delusions of grandeur, the “magical state”, the winner takes all mentality. And, all around, the stench is of ever increasing destruction, of senseless death.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Orwell saw the Spanish civil war as involving a lot of senseless death, but I don’t recall his conclusion to be that both sides were equivalent in that regard. I think he always saw the side on which he fought as a just cause, but one that was weakened from within by infighting and senseless ideological quarrelling. He was troubled by a sort of cult of heroic death that surrounded the conflict (perhaps not always perpetrated by naive foreign poets), but he did not deny the bravery and courage of the people he fought with or the justness of their cause.

    Homage to Catalonia is, on balance, an homage after all, though a carefully rendered one.

  2. Did the author wondered what Neomar’s parents might think of his parsing their words?

    May I suggest that the author thinks about what he might have thought about somebody parsing his words had Neomar being his son?

    • No, by all means, we should go by YOUR parsing of everybody words. Its like the third time already you decide you are the censor that has to control the message of this situation and everybody else not complying with YOUR interpretation is morally suspect.

      Fucking get down of your high horse.

      • I pose the same question to you: would you have liked somebody doing an intellectual exercise about words that you said in a moment of such pain as Neomar’s parents?
        I certainly would tell the author who dared to dwell on my pain: “f___” you bastard.
        In any case the “high horse” you referred to is not mine:
        Luke 6:31
        And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

        • I have thought hard on your comment. I believe we do have to ponder on the deaths of these youngsters and the pain of their families. I am a psychotherapist, so much of my daily work is to dwell on the pain of people who are suffering. I suppose it is true that Neomar’s parents can find my analysis offensive, but they accepted a radio interview that did just that: explore their views on the various interpretations around their son’s murder. You can listen to the interview on the link. I do apologize if my words seem out of place.
          In any case your final insult is unnecessary. I think it evidences one of the points of my article, which is that violence is a boomerang and that we might end up increasingly being insulting and violent to each other out of frustration and the facilitation of violence that is happening.

          Is “f___? you bastard” also quoted from the Bible?

  3. Having read Homage to Catalonia, it is my opinion that both Mr. Llorens and Canucklehead are downplaying Orwell’s disillusionment with his side.

    Mr. Llorens:”Mistrust that soon becomes a plague, even between allies, as well as the backstabbing and political rivalries that tear the republican front.”
    Canucklehead: “a just cause, but one that was weakened from within by infighting and senseless ideological quarrelling.”
    That “backstabbing” and “infighting” also involved killing each other, which Orwell mentions but neither Mr. Llorens nor Canucklehead mention. It was a bit stronger than “ideological quarreling.”

    For example, consider this passage from the book:
    In Barcelona there had been a series of more or less unofficial brawls in the working-class suburbs. C.N.T. (Anarchist) and U.G.T.(Communist) members had been murdering one another for some time past; on several occasions the murders were followed by huge, provocative funerals which were quite deliberately intended to stir up political hatred. A short time earlier a C.N.T. member had been murdered, and the C.N.T. had turned out in hundreds of thousands to follow the cortege. At the end of April, just after I got to Barcelona, Roldan, a prominent member of the U.G.T., was murdered, presumably by someone in the C.N.T. The Government ordered all shops to close and staged an enormous funeral procession, largely of Popular Army troops, which took two hours to pass a given point. From the hotel window I watched it without enthusiasm.

    As Orwell had aligned himself with the anarchist P.O.U.M., he found himself with a problem when the Republican government, at the behest of the Communists, started hunting down Anarchists.
    The worst of being wanted by the police in a town like Barcelona is that everything opens so late……
    When I scrounged for firewood on the mountain-side and wondered whether this was really a war or whether the News Chronicle had made it up, when I dodged the Communist machine-guns in the Barcelona riots, when I finally fled from Spain with the police one jump behind me – all these things happened to me in that particular way because I was serving in the POUM militia and not in the PSUC. So great is the difference between two sets of initials!

    While Orwell supported Republican Spain, his disillusionment was hard to hide. When you flee the country so that the government you thought you were fighting for doesn’t arrest you, it is hard to not be disillusioned.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homage_to_Catalonia
    http://www.george-orwell.org/Homage_to_Catalonia/

    • Certainly many on the radical left regarded Orwell as a traitor when Homage to Catalonia came out. But it wasn’t his renunciation. It was, I’ll say it again, his homage.

      You can love a cause, fight for it, and be disillusioned, all at the same time. Venezuelans will understand that characteristically Orwellian perspective on life.

    • I’ve read Homage to Catalonia multiple times, it’s a beautiful and illuminating and insightful piece of writing, like most of Orwell’s works.

      He clearly came away from the situation absolutely against Stalinsim, and communism, and of people subverting themselves to a ‘holy’ cause to the point that they are blinded against the evil going on in its name. He also saw firsthand the ‘changing’ of history, as Stalin’s thugs pushed aside other groups (like POUM) and made them out to be traitors. He was disillusioned with the war in general, as the democratic forces and non communist left were slowly but surely pushed aside as Stalin’s forces took the lead and destroyed dissent, as Stalin was fearful of any revolution not controlled by him that offered a different model of leftism or jeopardized his position in Europe.

      He certainly was not ever for Franco, but was upset that the democratic, ‘socialist’, secular government he went to fight for (or thought he went to fight for) turned into a mirror image of Fascism.

      His firsthand experience was crucial in his loud and clear denunciations of Stalinism, totalitaranism, and Communism, at a time when many were still sympathetic to the “red” cause and unable to understand its evil.

      • That sums it up well. I was re-reading some passages from Road to Wigan Pier just now and what Orwell had prior to Spain was a distaste for Communists and Marxists, but at that point, he still regarded them as just annoying pedantic people who were nevertheless on his side on the essential point, which was against Fascism. That certainly changed.

  4. BRAVO – this article encapsulates my feelings for the “celebrations” young people receive for risking their lives and dying, echándoles el muerto como si no tuviésemos los números para evitar que unos pocos tomen tantos riesgos — en vez de abrirles paso para que se adelanten solos, deberíamos acompañarlos hacia el frente…

  5. We are in a war , not the conventional kind but a war nonetheless , wars have causes , the cause of this war is the ambition of some men to rule forever because of their love of absolute power and the decision of most of society (which desires to remain free) to fight that ambition , the latter did not choose to go to war , they decided to defend their dignity and their freedom ……if they would have been allowed to defend their freedom and dignity by peacefully going to the polls , they would have never entered this war , they are warriors in a war not of their making ,thus they are entitled to our recognition , more so if they are assesinated while facing the forces of those that caused this war ……they are heroes ……!!

    Of course all wars are atrocious , but sometimes unfortunately they are neccesary for men who dont want to become the slaves of others ……!!

    This war is absolutely unnecessary , it could have been avoided by the govt obeying the principles of a peaceful change of govt thry thru the mechanisms of the constitution , thru the holding of free universal elections , if they decided that such mechanism have to be abrogated so they can rule absolutely and forever they have declared war on society and they are the assasins of those that die defending themselves from such abuse …!!!

    • What I think the article covers, and does a great service in doing so, is that a lot of the causes of the problems Venezuela has now is the idolization of the “hero” and the “war”.

      That doesnt mean that the kids that are dying senseless in the street because they dare oppose this group of thugs are not to be praised – although they can also be critiziced for errors in strategy, but hey, they are doing something that takes courage. But in a country that has always been deeply marinated in the cult of the Hero that comes and Saves Us at great Personal Risk and whose Memory cant be Misussed (that is, it has to be used by somebody in the ways that somebody decides), what is in great need is the realization that no, what is desirable is NOT to be a hero. What is desirable is NOT to have to become one. What is desirable is NOT to find a cause to give your life for. All that may be a product of necessity, but in the end is a tragedy; it means the actual real potential of those people has to be wasted in this instead on productive, democratic participation and their actual projects for their actual lives outside the struggle.

      You have seen it already in this very comment section. The need to reduce actual individuals to abstract “heroes” of the “people” that dont have their own ideas, opinions, fears, disillusionments, etc, but are supposed to be used as recruitment posters for the next batch of idealists young people searching for a meaningful struggle. The reduction of actual people with voices to mouthpieces, banners. All because “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”.

  6. I agree. This isn’t a war, as much as the government would like us to think that way. And we should not engage with it with our production of ‘heroes’, instead of victims, which is what they are. I don’t think those kids are heroic, I think they are kids with dreams and ideals who want their home to make sense, to be a good place to live. That is admirable, but not entirely remarkable – who doesn’t want that? And I do concede that they are doing something remarkably courageous in their protesting (not in their dying for the country, but in resisting and protesting and standing their ground consistently).

    I think Manuel and Jesus are very right in their pointing out that Venezuela has a too romanticised view of war, and I think both sides are guilty of framing our situation in such a way, when in fact it is nothing but a criminal government that is all too happy to murder its own people to remain in power, and a cultural sense of complacency and helplessness.

  7. The cult of heroism is in the culture , our culture romanticizes heroism and has done so since Homers days , acting the hero gives people a big head so there are people so grandly narcicistic that they adopt passionate religious or ideological discourses to find a operatic pretext for wars that will allow them to playact the role of grandiose heroes …… Chavez was one such man , a total narcissist , the movement he left behind played on peoples desire for a fake kind of heroism ……..the result of that is the war he declared on Venezuelan civil society to step by step destroy its prosperity and freedoms and which his successors have followed . That war is now reached a key stage where those resisting it have become RELUCTANT warriors in that war , they dont take pleasure in killing people or in destroying their lives …..they carry no guns and are unarmed and yet they stand in defense of their dignity before those who would ravage it for the sake of their fake revolutionary ‘heroism’…..they go as far as sacrificing their lives in defense of their dignity …….If they could avoid the violence of that war by going to free universal polls to decide things and still preferred to take to the streets they would be fake heroes and would not deserve our respect , but that is not the case , they are told either you submit passively to our violence or fly or you resist , in the latter case they are heroes and it would be nigarddly and piously sentimental in denying them that recognition ……..!!

    These things are done not because they have an inmediate favourable result but simply because for reasons of self respect they must do it !!

  8. I find the comments and the conversation challenging and enlightening. I myself am ambivalent towards what these kids fighting on the streets evoke in me. I too fell moved by their vibrant resistance to this terrible government. But I feel their violent deaths are tragic.
    I also feel that resistance has to be strategic. I think the confusion of whether it´s a non-violent resistance or if it´s a war is telling and dangerous. If it´s a war (which I don´t think it is), then the strategies used to fight seem to be self-defeating. If you are facing a powerful arbitrary force, then you better try to choose your battles well. If it is non-violent resistance, there needs to be a whole lot more organization and leadership guiding it.
    I feel that the heoric passion is neccesary fuel to resist, but left alone, unguided, is self-defeating and senseless. We as adults are responsible of taking that lead. Leaving that to seventeen year olds does not seem to be a good idea.
    I think that a war implies two sides that are in armed conflict. I think we have a violent government killing unarmed citizens that are in active resistance against it. I think framing this as a war has terrible consequences and sets the stage for the territory where government feels more comfortable in. I am afraid that one of the lingering consequences of these months is that political violence will escalate. Much of this violence will turn against many of those that are trying to unite strength against this government.

    Finally, I probably can´t begin to imagine the pain and anger that Neomar´s parents are feeling right now. I do hope my words don´t add further pain. I apologize if my use of their words can be interpreted as insulting. I think they express the enormous ambivalence that all of Venezuela is feeling right now with respect to the deaths of these young men.

    Oh, one more thing. I´m not sure the Republic was ¨the right side of history¨, but am pretty damn sure that franquismo wasn´t.

    Your comments have left me thinking hard this morning. Thanks.

    • Oh, one more thing. I´m not sure the Republic was ¨the right side of history¨, but am pretty damn sure that franquismo wasn´t.

      Which is why today some look at the Spanish Civil War and think “a plague on both their houses.” Anarchists killing priests. Stalinists/Communists killing Anarchists. Nationalists/Francoists killing Anarchists. Hard to choose a side there. That is the reaction I have when looking at the Montoneros/ERP/guerrillas versus the Milicos/Junta in Argentina of the 1970s. From V.S. Naipaul’s 1972 article, The Corpse at the Iron Gate: “Depende de quién sea torturado. It depends on who is tortured.” That wasn’t a military gorila speaking, but a Peronist trade union leader. Naipaul has a similar quote from a Trotskyist. Say no more.

      One problem with getting a coherent picture of the Republican side is that the Popular Front was deeply divided on what it wanted for Span’s future. Do you evaluate the virtue of the Republic on Plan A,or Plan B, or Plan C? Or Plan D?

      From what I have read of the Spanish Civil War, I have a conclusion similar to the one I reached on the US Civil War: a deeply divided society in which armed conflict was difficult to avoid- inevitable in the case of the US, but not as inevitable in Spain. Most historians agree that the trigger point was the police murder of legislator José Calvo Sotelo, which was done to avenge the Falangist killing of Police Lieutenant José Castillo, From Hugh Thomas’s masterpiece on The Spanish Civil War:

      The middle class in Spain were aghast at this murder of the leader of the parliamentary opposition by members of the regular police. It was now natural to assume that the government could not control its own agents, even if it wished to do so. Republicans of the Right or centre, such as Lerroux, or Cambó, or even Gil Robles, thought that, henceforth, they could not contemplate loyalty to a state which could not guarantee their lives/

      I have been more interested in the 6 year lead-up to the Spanish Civil War, instead of the war itself.

      I knew someone who had taught at the same university as Spanish Republican refugees. In his memoir he mentioned reading Homage to Catalonia, and in passing mentioned knowing faculty members who were Spanish Republican refugees. Unfortunately, his memoir gave no mention of what the Spanish Republican refugees thought of Homage to Catalonia. By the time I read his memoir, he was dead, so I couldn’t ask him. Dead men tell no tales, though alive he was quite the raconteur.

  9. Thanks Manuel fro such and insightful write up. One of the best I have read n this great site.
    Indeed Venezuela faces dire straits.

    The regime has been systematically inoculating the society with hatred, fear, dehumanization and communist idealism. even before Chavez, the left had been central in the ñangara culture of blaming others for our own faults.

    I am reading again Rangel’s (salvage-> revolucionario masterpiece. Add Briceño’s minotaruors and spice with some of Herrera Luque pieces and we see that this vein runs deep in our collective psique…

    I too fear that the society has been slowly been building up the conditions for a fratricidal conflict. Small arms are now everywhere. Talks of FARC arsenals being moved for safeguard to our land, plus Russian rifle and ammunitions factories and imports.

    All these components have been , again systematically, being advanced on the board, in preparation for the current state of affairs. Talks of war, ideas of heroes, martyrs, sacrifice, etc. is a dangerous sliding plane to hell.

    I think the correct framing should remain to be:

    We have been occupied and controlled by foreign interests and criminal interests due to the narcissists small traitorous chavista clique, our money and our former corruption used against us to further corrupt and control the state, and now, we are been incited by this occupation to fall fro violent resistance, that will further escalate the dehumanization of society.

    In My opinion, this serves the purpose of covering up the looting and the embezzlement of trillions od $ form the treasury, and will leave the country n some stage of civil war. Neighbours expect to benefit form this, Big Oil expects to benefit from this. Criminal interest also expect to benefit form this.

    Our society challenge is to understand this and unite, Venezuelans agains oppressors and fight for our life and future. Period. No sugar coating.

    Now the form of the fight can not be violent or military, should be through full, mediation, educational, spiritual and existential.

    Operationalizing these values is the real challenge, ver como se come eso de la resistencia total pacifica pero afanada y definitiva.

    Regretfully, is much more easy to fall in rage after we see kids being killed daily, and see Maduro dancing salsa on TV…

    Is all psyops! and our minds is the battle ground.

    VV sin censura and the pictures of all the enchufados harms the regime more than 1000 tirapiedras, la lista de Justin and other hackers bring out the necessary dirt to document what this violence is trying to cover up, Grupos organizados como provea, Himiob et al, etc are the real enemy of this regime.

    documentar y buscar justicia. No morir como pendejos en la calle.

    To the kids and no so kids that need to still show some force! read Nash. Start attacking transport units, shame the apparatus, build bridges for reconciliation, all the above….

    Again thanks for your write up.
    Strong and shocking.

  10. I am a bit surprised by some of the comments here, as if this post was just simply a literary exercise. In any case, I find the point of the post right on the money. Just yesterday, Laureano Marquez penned a brief essay that has some similarities with this post: http://www.talcualdigital.com/Nota/144125/mensaje-sin-destino-por-laureano-marquez

    Marquez’s post mentions Mario Briceno-Irragori’s famous essay, Mensaje sin Destino, which posits (in my view) that part of our problem as a nation is a skewed sense of national history, which exalts military prowess and in the process ignores the violence and brutality of military action. At the same time, our History neglects what makes us truly Venezuelans. Thus, we are fragmented society, defined by epic stories instead of by a shared history of its people. Briceno-Irragori labeled this a “Crisis de Pueblo.” Almost 70 years after this essay was published, we still (literary now) suffer from this crisis. In a way, we accept the violence by government as part of government, and we glorify (and trivialize) the deaths of people who are victims of the violence by government.

  11. Hace poco leí dos libros importantes sobre la violencia en Argentina. Los dos son de Pilar Calveiro: Poder y desaparición, y Política y o violencia. El primero es sobre los campos de concentración, y el segundo es sobre el papel de la guerrilla y las condiciones que hicieron posible el terrorismo de estado durante el proceso de reorganización nacional.
    Es muy importante que quede claro que no se puede comparar la situación actual de Venezuela con la situación de España o con la situación de Argentina, aunque sí podemos aprender muchas cosas de esos hechos. Hay que entender que no existen en nuestro país grupos insurgentes con una fuerte identidad política cuya intención declarada sea tomar el poder. Los jóvenes que están protestando no tienen nada en común con los guerrilleros de los sesenta y setenta, que eran militantes de verdad (me preocupa que se use el término militante para refererise a estos chicos: los jóvenes que están muriendo en la calle de Caracas no son militantes en el sentido tradicional), y tenían un proyecto, un plan, a corto, mediano y largo plazo, que implicaba la lucha armada y el fin de la democracia. Es decir, las intenciones de los grupos insurgentes no eran misteriosas ni equívocas, todo lo contrario. Lo que dice Pilar Calveiro es que las guerrillas se apartaron de la política y de las bases populares y adoptaron el mismo militarismo que pretendían combatir, y que de esa manera se separaron completamente de la realidad, lo que facilitó la tarea del terrorismo de estado y finalmente su propio exterminio. La oposición venezolana jamás se ha apartado de la política y jamás ha optado por la violencia, y mucho menos se puede decir que esté organizada para la insurgencia. Por eso es que yo siempre combatí contra quienes decían que había una oposición moderada y otra radical, una política, y antipolítica. Incluso Leopoldo López hizo un trabajo de base muy importante a través de su partido, y siempre rechazó la lucha armada. Hablar de una oposición “antipolítica”es inmoral en tanto que es una mentira que sirve para beneficiar a ciertas personas. Hay sí, factores menos populistas que otros, pero ninguno radical, en cuanto ninguno proponía una ruptura institucional, ninguno proponía una diferencia que no pudiera ser resuelta con los mecanismos democráticos existentes. El chavismo ha probado no ser democrático, ha probado que es heredero de esos movimientos de los sesenta y setenta que proponían abiertamente el fin de la democracia burguesa.
    Sobre los jóvenes y su sacrificio heroico. Pues hay que verlo así: el movimiento contra Maduro (aclarando que engloba tanto a personas chavistas como no chavistas)en este momento goza de una ventaja de la cual no gozaron nunca los movimientos insurgentes de los sesenta y su setenta: una fuerte movilización popular. Nos haría falta un poco de identidad política y de disciplina (justamente dos cosas de las cuales los movimientos insurgentes de los sesenta y setenta no carecieron nunca). En definitiva, tenemos que evaluar objetivamente las cosas que tenemos a favor y en contra, para desarrollar una propaganda efectiva.

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