The Revolving Door of Normalized Oppression

It’s easy to lose sight of just how vicious the dictatorship can be when it decides that you're next. You are left completely without recourse. Try it on for size.

Put yourself in the shoes of Freddy Guevara.

You’re the elected Deputy Speaker of Venezuela’s Legislature. On Wednesday of this week, PSUV heavyweight Jorge Rodríguez publicly calls for your arrest before the National Electoral Council.

Hours later, a Prosecutor General imposed by force by an illegitimate body that took over your mandate goes on television and says his office will formally petition the Supreme Tribunal to strip you of your parliamentary immunity. The books say only the National Assembly can do that. But nobody bothers with the books.

Don’t just shrug it off. Stop. Actually try to imagine yourself in this position.

Later the same day, President Maduro, in a nationwide (cadena) broadcast, says he “fully supports the Prosecutor’s initiative” to go after you, and that you are guilty of “burning down the country” and “destroying the nation’s electoral system.”

And there you are, watching this on TV, helplessly, knowing there’s nothing you can do. Nothing. 

We’ve gotten so acclimated to injustice, we don’t even stop to grasp how fucked all of this is.

The next day, the Supreme Tribunal announces it will begin proceedings to strip your parliamentary immunity. Your lawyers are never notified of any filing by the Prosecutor; there isn’t even a pretense of due process.

On Friday, after you read on Twitter that Supreme Tribunal proceedings have finished and a ruling has been handed down, your lawyers scramble to Court only to find out that there wasn’t even a hearing, be denied access to your file, and to the crimes that you are being charged with. 

You have no say in any of this. 

Eventually, you learn —via a webpage— that you have been stripped of your parliamentary immunity, barred from traveling outside the country, and are to stand trial for “continued instigation of violence, criminal association and the use of adolescents to commit crimes,” but that you have already been found guilty of said crimes, according to the Court ruling. 

And that’s it. There is no charade anymore. The dictatorship doesn’t need to pretend. It’s you, against the entire repressive apparatus of a narco communist tyranny.

We’re all inured to this stuff, right?

On Saturday morning, as all this was happening, the regime released Yon Goicoechea from arbitrary detention at SEBIN’s HQ in El Helicoide, after taking away 15 months of his life that he will never get back. Just like that. For no specific reason. It’s not as though there’d been any judicial decision to change things yesterday: the state hadn’t even pretended to have an official case open against Yon for over a year.

We were all happy for Yon, of course — how could we not be? — but even in freeing him the chavista state revels in displaying its arbitrary power. They don’t release him for a reason. They release him, just because. Scratch that, just because they want to. Yon is not really free. You know that, right?

We’ve decided this is all normal. Because in Venezuela, words like “rights,” and “liberties,” long ago lost any semblance of meaning. We’ve learned to coexist with injustice, we’ve factored oppression into our daily lives, to the point where summoning the strength to be outraged by indignity is now considered an overreaction. 

So before you start pontificating all “Y todavía te sorprendes, mija?”, let all this sink in. Be glad that you’re not Freddy Guevara or Yon Goicoechea. Relish in the luxury you have of laughing about how ludicrous it is to point out due process violations in Venezuela.

Emiliana Duarte

Emi is a cook, a lover of animals, politics, expletives, and Venezuela. She is the co-founder of Caracas Chronicles LLC and Managing Editor if the site until December 2017.