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.

35 COMMENTS

  1. It has been widely reported that pranes run the prisons, maybe they can get together and improve conditions in the jails.

  2. Please stop showing that woman’s ugly mug. Or at lease give a trigger warning.

    And she’s even uglier on the inside …

  3. “Is It Too Much to Ask for Some Accountability?”

    At this point? Of course it is! What kind of dumb rhetorical question is that? On what planet do you reside?! Instead, they should all be praying for some foreign intervention, and better yet, BEGGING the USA to save their corrupt, inept and sorry asses.

  4. The always funny Chiguire Bipolar portrays this incident as something “below” Kleptozuela, something shocking, unusual.. Dudes, in the abysmal Fifth World, where our “bravo pueblo” now belongs, this happens all the time: Genocides, mass immigration, mass prostitution at the borders, galactic drug trafficking, highest murder rates on the Planet, every week, every month, every year, worst crime rates, worst hyperinflation, political prisoners living in infra-human filthy conditions, overcrowded jails, El Guaire beauty bathing, people eating street dogs and cats for breakfast, massacres of opponents Oscar Perez style, with total, complete lawlessness and lack of accountability. Of all observers, the astute, ironic, well-seasoned Chiguire Bipolar is now surprised? Happens all the time in the 5th world, Haiti, Congo, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Kleptozuela.. every day, every year.

  5. Present day Venezuela, I’m sorry to say, might no more be ready for democracy that Iraq or Libia. Most writing here on CC, myself included, were raised with democratic ideals. Not so sure those can be imposed on the pueblo right now. Seems like they’re looking for a savior with a cornucopia, a Cacique or Gran Jefe to sustain them in body and spirit, and an enemy to push off of.

    Most of us here are promoting values that might never take root in, say, present day El Tigre, especially in the rough neighborhoods where my people lived. They once were proud and self-sufficient. Now they’ve been reduced to wards of the state, and look to the state to make it more better.

    Righting this ship is gonna take some kind of Captain. And I hope accountability for the past is top on his/her list.

  6. It is of utmost importance that these criminals be held accountable. THEY MUST HEAR THIS NOW. Because if they don’t think there is any downside to their current shenanigans, they will keep it up.

    The opposition… who are they? What are they afraid of? They certainly don’t have any BALLS.

    Way too much emphasis has been bandied about with this “withdrawal from power… with honor”. What utter horse shit. The time for that has long since passed. This BS with Falcon and an “election”… how many times does the opposition have to get kicked in the balls before they realize another kick in the balls is coming? We have a saying in the United States. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” How much SHAME does the opposition endure? How many times have they offered another olive branch, only to have it thrown back in their face?

    Every single Chavista needs to hear that once Chavismo falls, every single one of them will be held personally responsible (Nuremberg style trials at the minimum) and some may not get the benefit of a trial (Oscar Perez) at all. This needs to be made VERY CLEAR.

    • The worst malandros, and malandras, are the ones who run the system, j. They’re just fine, and they are thanking you for your support of the results of their corruption, criminality and negligence.

    • What if they weren’t all malandros? What if they were journalists being held for violating Chavista peace speech rules, or university students who protested, or doctors/nurses/teachers protesting for supplies and medicine, or political prisoners? You’re pretty smug techla warrior.. you have no clue what’s happening on the ground, do you?

      • Or people on drug charges (planting drugs on people is oldest trick in book here in Kleptozuela) and who could not pay the bribes to the police and therefore stuck in jail…

        Yes, my gut instinct was “burn malandros burn” at first, but if you think about it further it is more complex.

    • And what about the prisoners that were INNOCENT AND UNJUSTLY held at that prison J? You fucking shortsighted idiot!!!!

      • Fuck malandros and fuck their families too. A good Malandro is a dead malandro.

        It is the victims of crime that deserve simpathy and respect not the fucking killers, rapists, thief and other scum you are crying about who daily destroy honest people´s lifes.

        Its people like you actually who caused this, you care more about bureocracy than justice, you care more about a shitty slogan and a protocol than fighting the scum of the earth, thats what they use as leverage, compassion of the fool is the evil mans daily meal.

        truth is, malandros should burn, all day , everyday. Everyone is sick of them and most people will agre. And no amount of social justice crying on social networks will change that.

        Hope any of you don´t get an innocent family member or friend killed by these scums the earn a lesson about crying about malandros rights

        • “Hope any of you don´t get an innocent family member or friend killed by these scums the earn a lesson about crying about malandros rights”

          You just got your twisted wish:

          68 innocents were slaughtered by fucking malandros because “prana suprema” cried about those fucking malandros in uniform’s rights, and now those fucking malandros with badges are killing innocents by roasting them like chicken in an oven.

    • This comment was meant for Poeta.

      j., spoken as someone who actually believes the current regime may actually be efficient at something, fighting crime. Realize how mistaken and callous your statement sounds?

      • “j., spoken as someone who actually believes the current regime may actually be efficient at something”

        ???

        you must be projecting or don´t know how to read because i didn´t mention the government at all

        If a malandro dies an horrible death, for wathaver reason it may be, then good ridance. I am not crying over the scum of the earth. No one cares about the victims of crime, rape and theft, but boy, do venecos care about the human rights of fucking malandros , too many telenovelas and malandro dramas maybe.

        • You did not need to mention the government. Your assumptions: all who died or injured were convicted (not in pre-trial detention and none who were convicted could be innocent). See comments above.

          Your conclusion: the regime is willing and capable of convicting the guilty in a fair and impartial manner without mishaps being inflicted on the innocent.

          Who is projecting? Sorry, I share neither the implied assumption or the implicit conclusion.

        • “…If a malandro dies an horrible death,”

          Your whole comment is wrong from here, because those who were killed are very likely not be those “fucking malandros” you seem to hate so much.

          Because the “fucking malandros” are chavismo’s NUMBER ONE WEAPON AGAINST THE PEOPLE IN VENEZUELA.

  7. Is It Too Much to Ask for Some Accountability?
    According to Chavismo, yes. Especially when accountability will result in less power or negative consequences- or both- for Chavistas.

  8. Lets not miss the crucial point here , the bosses are so narcissistic because of their warped ideological delusions that they CAN DO NO WRONG , they are demigods incapable of errors or mistakes or crimes or corruption , if you are a God how can you be held accountable for anything , you are beyond the law because your will is the law ……..thats why they can never own up to any failure, why whenever they goof up they inmmediately shout ‘Capitalism and their lackeys are to blame’ …….and thats why they can never be democratic because the key point of democracy is that people can hold a ruler accountable for the misdeeds and mistakes which they incurr in , but not them , they can only win elections , otherwise they might be held accountable for the mess theyve made of Venezuela …..!!

  9. OT:

    There was a recent TV series done, a docudrama, about the anti-Christ Hugo. I think it was a Colombian production.

    Anyone know about this, and how a Gringo can watch it with English subtitles?

  10. Aimed at the two posts above by Poeta Criollo and Juan Largo:

    The negativity here is thick. Negativity waiting for an excuse to pounce. You can find something wrong with anyone. You can compare an average worker to a U.S. Air Force pilot, and call the worker undisciplined, lazy, and hopeless. Then you can compare the pilot to the Operations Officer, and call the pilot stupid and untrained. Then you can compare the Operations Officer to the Air Force General, and call the OpO a lower-rank functionary.

    I didn’t live in any of the barrios in Venezuela, so maybe I can’t pretend to boast about how I’ve seen it all and met everyone, and thus I definitively know what I’m talking about because I can name two million names. But I have met some people in Venezuela who probably lived in the barrios. I’ve probably ridden in Por Puestos and buses with people who live in the barrios. I’ve watched and have had routine purchase and sale dealing with people who probably went home to barrios. I knew one guy who lived in Petare – I knew him very well, and he knew me very well. The only people I have any complaint about are two little kids who snatched a comic book from under my arm when I was six years old, and ran off laughing. Oh, and one half my size who clocked me on the chin when I tried to collect a medio he owed me for a glass of lemonade (I was eight years old, then).

    The pueblo of the country look to the upper classes for leadership and orientation. The pueblo are not the ones running the country and giving the orders. That would be the upper classes, running the country and giving the orders.

    You guys here are supposed to be, presumably, members of the class of intellectual leadership of Venezuela. I do have some complaints about the intellectual leadership. I once saw five upper class teenagers beat up a lone auto mechanic trying to collect what he was owed. I saw one Venezuelan angry at me because a Venezuelan girl I knew well loved to dance with me, but was only formally polite dancing with him (I was a Gringo, you see?). I have a complaint about a certain Ministro who declared that the American oil interests in Venezuela were a “Trojan Horse”. And I have accumulated all manner of second-hand readings about how corrupt and incredibly malleable the upper class is.

    Y’all guys who say the pueblo are lazy and hopeless better take a long, hard look in the mirror when you search for someone to blame, and stop trying to dump what are legitimately your responsibilities and failings onto the “lower classes”.

  11. Gringo, contrary to what you implied, I was not dumping responsibility on the pueblo. The huge rift between the haves (very few) and the have-nots (most of the country) was so large that Chavez filled the gap. It was clearly the higher ups that let this gap widen and so the present situation is all on them. Something had to shift the balance of power because the country was so far out of balance, and because the government – at the upper reaches – was so functionally corrupt and avaricious, at the extent of all the rest. A middle class was largely doing things right, at least when I was living in Valencia in the 80s and 90s. Hard working, educated and diligent. But there was no efficient program and little will to try and pull up the bottom, to educate and raise the common means. Then Chavez comes along and instead of pulling up the bottom by way of education and creating opportunities, he pulled down the top, and especially the educated middle class, the very people required to hoist the pueblo. Though populism and give aways, he won the pueblo over, giving them a sense of entitlement but no means of independence. Rather he made the pueblo dependent on Chavismo – the way of the Cacique in bold print. Because this process went against the grain of democratic self-determination, the pueblo was slowly disempowered, democratic powers were billed as the enemy and power was consolidated in the hands of people who would never cut it in the private sector. And all the while the nation’s wealth was drained off and squandered by daft economic policies and naked theft.

    Fact is, when democratic countries have been held up as enemies of the pueblo, while Chavez and now Maduro have buddied up with outfits like Cuba, Iran, Russia et al, all run by strong men, the social terrain is no longer conductive for democratic policies to take seed.

    This is not the pueblo’s fault. It goes back to the powers that be who ignored the pueblo in the first place. Believing that the pueblo should now rise up for the restoration of democracy strikes me as absurd. What most want is to get rid of Maduro and replace him with someone who can make good on the socialist pipe dream.

    • Juan Largo – My comment was directed at your post, and at Poeta Criollo’s, not against you or him personally (just to make that clear). If you’re jumping up and down about how great socialism would be if only it were done right, or other nutty thesis, I missed that somehow (lol). However: I disagree with your last statement “What most want is to get rid of Maduro and replace him with someone who can make good on the socialist pipe dream.” I think most people want decent economic conditions where they can work in peace and get paid, or work and make a profit, and buy life’s necessities freely, maybe even save money.

  12. I think most people want decent economic conditions where they can work in peace and get paid, or work and make a profit, and buy life’s necessities freely, maybe even save money.
    ——–

    I agree with this. The problem is what, exactly, is the normal concept of “work” in Venezuela. Gaming the system is endemic at this point, transparency is so lacking, and all checks and balances are so entirely missing that turning this mess around will be a nightmare. You can’t just pump IMF money into the country, and you can’t impose a democratic system where transparency and the rule of law is binding because so much of the culture has been re-educated to another model, or is still beholden to gaming the system.

    The simple expectations you listed – having a job, buying necessities, and so forth are part of being an adult. But the means of doing so in Venezuela have now been so compromised and the value of honest and efficient productivity so distorted (like the insanity of putting a military goon in charge of the oil sector, or having economic advisers you insist there is not such thing as inflation, etc.) that there is no model in place to return to, no democratic rules on place to follow, no judiciary to enforce fair play, and no production in place to provide those who want to work and earn and buy to go to.

    Remember the Devil’s Excrement and the dark promises made true through the reliance on oil. It has now been realized in spades. Sure, people “want decent economic conditions where they can work in peace and get paid, or work and make a profit, and buy life’s necessities freely, maybe even save money.” But the opportunities to do so depend on a private sector that is now largely destroyed, and the MO of many who who naturally want such things has been toxically revamped by a bankrupt socialist model.

  13. Remember how I once discovered that a transnational company on assesing the potential of its thousands of employees in Venezuela and in many other latam countries and the caribbean , was surprised to see how much talented and promising people they had in Venezuela , propportionately more than in other countries , they didnt just measure academic credentials or IQ but those general qualities that made an employee stand out as someone whose abilities it was their worth while to nurture. They usually werent as disciplined and naturally organized as other people but they more than made up for it by their inventiveness and fast thinking ….., when we look at all those Venezuelans who have made it big in the US and other countries we come to suspect that maybe we do have the human wherewithal to make this a developed country but are held back by circumstances and cultural factors that dont allow all those talented people a reasonable opportunity for the full development of their habilities , now we have literally millions of Venezuelans leaving everything behind to make it in different countries , I m curious to see how they make up ….my guess is better than many people expect …. I am reminded of the Cuban diaspora and how well they be done in the US , 500 thousand cuban exiles produce a multiple of the wealth which the whole cuban population of 8 million produce in their homeland ………, there are portions of the population that it must be recognized are not salvageable as valued participants in the making of a modern economy , we must deal with those with compassion but also not fooling ourselves into thinking that every one has the same potential for personal growth that so many of our best people have…!!

  14. Guillermo, I think many of the folks fleeing will go back once a system is in place that is not trying to defeat or thwart them. The country will need their help and drive to get back on track, but the transformation will have to happen from within. That’s pretty much all I’ve been saying.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here