Delcy Rodríguez decided to give us all a Christmas message as presiding member of the Commission for Truth, Justice, Peace and Public Tranquility. The announcer on the state channel reported that Delcy had invited “a group of thirteen out of the almost 80 prisoners involved implicated in crimes of political nature between 2014 and 2017”. They announced “alternative penal measures” that will include “community service” as well as the “recognition of the victims.” He went on to say that Delcy had stated that the meeting had “pedagogical purposes” so the opposition could understand that “these events should not be repeated.”
In her trademark condescending monocorde, Delcy went on to explain how the Commission was created to determine Truth. Then came a relevant detail when she said that “in some cases, we have found”, taking a detour to clear up that “not in any one of these particular cases, but in some cases, where we have been able to interview victims and people who have supposedly been involved in events of intolerance and violence, we have found testimonies that accuse a sector of opposition leaders as responsible of these acts of violence”. I wonder, if this is not the particular case of any of those taken to the meeting, why is she telling them all this?
The specific cases in front of her are of no importance to Delcy. She speaks to them in general, as an anonymous, undifferentiated mass. They were chosen to represent something— at least Alfredo Ramos and Roberto Picón most surely were. The introduction stated that they were invited to meet, but this they did not do, they were sat down, their bodies occupied a space in front of the State’s power, in front of the television cameras as they were spoken to, scolded like children. They were only actors in a play they had no choice but to take part in.
Their individual stories don’t matter, they were there to play a role scripted for them by their captors, enacting power’s interpretation of recent history.
It didn’t matter that Robert Picón was arrested after a house that isn’t his was searched without a warrant for evidence against him, isolated from his family, put in a bathroom-turned-improvised-cell, tried in a military court, even though he’s a civilian, and tried on accusations of treason and subtraction of military objects on laughably flimsy grounds that included an inactive hand grenade from World War II that was used as a paperweight.
Everyone understands Picón was targeted because of his technical expertise in planning for elections, and his involvement helping with the referendum organized by the MUD on the 16th of July against the ANC. His jailing was a charade, as well as a warning to others. As of course is the perverse Truth Commission coordinated by the same person that leads the ANC composed of government die-hards.
Yet Delcy claims she has testimonies from victims, without —again— ever specifying which victims she was referring to. Probably not David Vallenilla’s family. He was shot dead by a National Guardsman in front of the La Carlota air base.
Truth Commissions have been controversial but useful institutions in political transitions in many countries, from South Africa to Argentina. To be useful they must be credible, and to be credible they need to be scrupulously politically independent. Delcy, in turning her truth commission into a club she uses to beat the opposition with, has emptied the phrase of all meaning for Venezuelans.
In his essay “Stories and Totalitarianism”, Vaclav Havel describes how totalitarian power empties out of real life stories by erasing the details, the density and color of life. He wrote about how being jailed surprisingly exposed him to people who had stories that were unique or shocking or moving that contrasted to the anesthetized world outside of prison. To create an Official Truth, the system worked to blur these stories, erase their individuality, annihilate the details that made them unique.
Psychoanalysis contends that the pervert is one who uses others to perform, to stage a controlled version of his or her fantasies. A pervert is never interested in the intimate subjectivity of others, he or she uses actors to fulfill his or her prewritten sexual script. The pervert relates to others by blurring their personal uniqueness. Sex becomes an arena of power. The power of their fantasies over other competing versions of desire. A fetishist grabs desperately on to a shoe, like a rapist forcefully subdues its victim. Perversion is about a fantasy of omnipotence and control; the need to do away with, deny vulnerability, incompleteness, frailty.
Just three weeks ago Delcy said that the liberation of political prisoners through the efforts in the ongoing dialogue in Dominican Republic was “an absolute product of their [the opposition’s] imagination”. A phrase that discredits opposing representatives as deluded children and warns all to not get our hopes up, even though she also stated that the talks were going chévere.
She’s obviously hesitant to concede the opposition any influence, the least bit of power. Just as protests are due to oppositions malevolence, prisoner releases are due to government’s benevolence, nothing else.
Delcy speaks of dialogue, of peace and reconciliation. But she does not listen, others’ stories are carefully erased. Their texture of their lives are carefully scrubbed out of view. She presents political conflict in black and white. She’s determined to impose her reality as the reality, even when she knows she’s lying.
Psychoanalysis knows how difficult it is to negotiate relationships with the perverse. The perverse will begin by trying to convince and seduce, but faced with the falseness of their perversion, will do everything in their power to avoid direct, transparent communication. They’ll do all they can to establish relationships only when they have the upper hand. They’ll lie with ease and, as a last resort, turn everything upside down rather than recognize any fault whatsoever.
I can barely begin to imagine the indignation of being forced to bow before babbling Delcy after being tortured and persecuted. No one can possibly believe that such a brutal act can lend the commission any legitimacy.
In dealing with perverse power, it might be useful to remember that when Freud fled Austria and Nazism he was only allowed to do so after the Gestapo harassed him and his family a good deal. They burned his books, banned his psychoanalytic practice, persecuted his friends, searched his house and briefly arrested his daughter. It all ended with the requirement that he sign a document that read:
I, Prof. Freud, hereby confirm that after the Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich that I have been treated by the German authorities and particularly the Gestapo with all respect and consideration due to my scientific reputation, that I could live and work in full freedom, that I could continue to pursue my activities in every way I desired, that I found full support from all concerned in this respect, and that I have not the slightest reason for any complaint.
According to his biographer, Ernest Jones, Freud agreed to this, but added a comment before his signature: “I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone.” We would love for this defiant wink to resistance to be true. Freud might even have claimed to write it.
Roberto Picón may take some solace, though, in knowing that in the documents relating to his emigration, only Freud’s signature shows up.
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