Original art by @modográfico
On March 28, the dungeons of the Carabobo Police department in Valencia were overcrowded with more than 200 inmates, living in inhuman conditions and in violation of due process. A spark was all it took for 68 of them to burn and suffocate to death, while they fought for their lives trying to escape a place designed to hold 40 prisoners. One of the worst possible ways to die.
It would be exceedingly naive to think that we’ll ever know who’s guilty for that conflagration. It’s even more naive to believe that someone in the government will take full responsibility for this streak of violations against the most essential aspects of humanity: life and dignity.
This is Nicolás Maduro not saying a word about the infamous incident. He raises his hand, but not to take any responsibility; maybe to cover his eyes from the blazing flames.
Perhaps one day the culprits will meet justice. Hopefully, we’ll be there to witness it. But let’s be realistic and honest, imagining that someone among our leaders has the courage to assume the consequences of their actions or their negligence is simply a waste of time.
Here’s Iris Varela, Minister of Penitentiary Affairs, washing her hands from a prison system that’s broken, failed and… did we say failed?
And since we’re not in a position to blithely waste stuff in this country, we’ll use our words to find other culprits. Culprits who might be just as elusive but who, unlike those others, walk among us everyday. They could even live in our mirrors.
Who’s guilty for the fact that 68 deaths are considered “just a few more bodies,” cold numbers in an already huge list?
Who’s to blame for the fact that nobody cares for the fate of these people except their families?
Who’s liable for our worthless laws, incapable of fulfilling the purpose for which they were written and used instead to neutralize those who are and think differently from us?
Who’s to blame for our social networks overflowing with expressions such as “well done,” “they deserved it” or phrases such as “bah, they were malandros, no victims to regret there”?
Who’s guilty for the fact that the elemental values of any democracy, such as respect for life, due process and a dignified treatment by the authorities, even with things as basic as having the right to eat or to access medicine to prevent deaths from flus and diarrheas, are seen as something we can afford to overlook?
Who’s to blame for the fact that citizens have to vote for X or Y in order to access that food and those medicines?
Why do we think it’s almost a joke to believe that a country where things like those can end up with people resigning their posts and facing an impartial judge for the consequences of their actions is possible?
Because it’s true, we don’t want to forget that this is a web page for jokes. All of our articles must have jokes, so now we’re all responsible for a really bad one.
This article was originally published in Spanish at El Chigüire Bipolar, on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.