Photo:  ESPN Deportes, retrieved.

There’s a free-floating kind of outrage now. In times of censorship and persecution, the changes in people’s mood are measured through mild gestures, modulations, silence. When the former beauty queen and TV actress Mónica Spear was murdered, on January 6, 2014, along with her partner, before their five-year-old daughter (who survived), the country was shocked. The murderers took advantage of a car malfunction and, mercilessly, shot them all.

Almost six years later, in the early morning of December 7, 2018, José “El Hacha” Castillo and Luis Valbuena, members of Los Cardenales de Lara baseball team, were returning to their city, Barquisimeto, after facing Leones del Caracas, when the car where they were travelling in crashed against obstacles put there by criminals, and flipped over. Both players who were travelling in the back seat without seat belts on, flew out of the vehicle, dying immediately.

This time, perhaps because there are no children involved, the feeling is different. If the murder of Venezuela’s representative in Miss Universe 2005 plunged the country in an anguished and dense piety, as if we were watching a love story with a tragic ending, now the anger is such that we can barely speak. We’re witnessing the unspeakable, because the murder of two big leaguers shows the death spiral on the roads hasn’t stopped, and it can’t have such dominance without the authorities’ support. The consent is indirect, because criminals act with impunity, and direct, because we know certain parts of the roads are cleared at specific hours, so gangsters can do what they want.

The death toll must be high indeed if it includes members of the Venezuelan star pantheon.

The death toll must be high indeed if it includes members of the Venezuelan star pantheon: a young woman who represented the country in the most important beauty contest in the world, and two baseball players, successful both here and abroad. It could be just a horrible coincidence, but it isn’t. The reality is that the ravenous guillotine of the roads, just to mention one variant of crime in the country, falls non-stop and has taken hundreds of lives. It isn’t strange that, every now and then, it also takes celebrities and beloved national figures.

As usual, public media said Valbuena and Castillo died in a “traffic accident,” tampering the information to conceal the facts, with the victims picked clean by the criminals after the incident.

Nicolás Maduro himself tweeted: “I mourn along the Venezuelan baseball family and all their fans, for the death of Luis Valbuena and José Castillo, talented and renowned players. My condolences to @CardenalesDice and their relatives. May they be strong in this moment.” Not a single word regarding the crime, much less his own responsibility to guarantee our safety. In the same style, other spokespeople juggled to mention the death of the players without touching the regime’s part of the blame.

All of this sparked quite a palpable anger. The talkative and frank Venezuelan has been replaced by silent masses, restrained, weighed down with affliction and humiliation.

Public media said Valbuena and Castillo died in a “traffic accident,” tampering the information to conceal the facts.

Everyone knows the government is aware of these road gangs, their numbers, their modus operandi. The military itself is a scourge for the drivers and it’s well known that if a crop or livestock product costs Bs. 10,000 in Caracas, it’s because it was originally Bs. 1,000: the gap grows with the checkpoints set along roads for extortion and robberies. There’s no way to escape the collection of bribes (either in money or in kind) demanded by soldiers.

Oswaldo “Ozzie” Guillén, manager of Tiburones de La Guaira, said it quite clearly: “There are checkpoints on the roads but not to care for people, [but instead] stopping cars, buses, trucks. Why do they stop them?”

That’s an obvious reference to the robberies carried out by the men in uniform with the viciousness of a tick in the jugular of Venezuelan citizens.

This is too much. And the mockery is too obscene. “Road pirates and cruel people everywhere,” wrote sports journalist Ignacio Serrano on his Twitter account. “No action is taken by the pseudo-government that rules behind bodyguards and escorts. There’s a lot more good people in Venezuela, but crime hurts so much, breaks so many hearts, because authorities don’t stand up to it […] Those who are bleeding our country to death should go. Take your money and your escorts, leave us alone to rebuild the country with good.”

That’s the pitch. Pain and anger, spoken through clenched teeth, contained, without fuss.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I’m deeply sorry for the useless death of those players. I pray and send my prayers to their relatives.

    I’m enraged by the crime and whoever wrote: ”Those who are bleeding our country to death should go. Take your money and your escorts, leave us alone to rebuild the country with good”

    As if Crime was new in Venezuela.

    When I relocated to Brazil in 1989, what an agreeable surprise to see 24H pharmacies all around the country completely open to the public, I mean open with one guard maybe and a pharmacist on duty, open like a current CVS in the USA. Just 24h/day.

    In that same year 1989 someone was shot while looking up a medication in a pharmacy in Valencia at midnight. An emergency. But everyone made him stupid ”how is that possible going to a the pharmacy at midnight”.

    The prison-like pharmacies in Venezuela have existed since socialism took over in 1959. For those who have never been to Venezuela, stopping in the so-called autopistas, during the night has been super dangerous especially since the 70s.

    So, yes, don’t cry for me (Venezuela)

  2. No one really messes with anyone random in Texas, or Florida, or other states where the 2nd Amendment is respected, and the people have to right to arm themselves.

    Of course, there are liberals posting on this site, plus writers, who will argue for strict gun control everywhere, even though Venezuela is a textbook example of why that philosophy is ridiculous. When the government can’t protect you, you have a right to protect yourself.

    And I won’t even get into Canada and GB, whose populace is simply brainwashed against guns.

    I’m no Rambo, but I feel no fear…anywhere I go…because I own something that equalizes me. Someone sees me doing something, takes notice of me, that guy is thinking, “He may be carrying.”

    And I am.

    • The Wild West commonly had vigilant groups, and Marshals or Sheriffs could deputize men. Some people may scoff, “Yeah, sure! The Wild West! Your fantasies!” The rules were pretty simple. Don’t shoot an unarmed man, don’t shoot a man in the back, and don’t shoot someone for no reason. I’ve posted short video clips here before – and had no replies. Maybe people are scared?

      This here’s a girl … ‘xcuse me, I meant to say beautiful young lady … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5TjAEAbRw4 Maybe she won’t scare people. Besides, she’s from (shhhh!) C-a-n-a-d-a. Guess not evewyone there is afwaid of guns, hehehe. Thing is, she surely knows a lot about how to clean, store, carry, what might make one go off, differences in types of ammunition, loads, and more I haven’t even heard of. I know the revolver in the video is double action: you have to cock the hammer back, before releasing it to impact the cartridge. If you look, you’ll see she draws up into the palm of her left hand to cock it, then pulls the trigger – and immediately reholsters it. In competition, the times are in hundredths of a second, like 0.412 or 0.388. Kind of like Formula One racing, the time differences in qualification rounds are also in the hundredths of a second, over a two kilometer track, for example.

      • I just watched that video, and I’ll admit it:

        I’m not that good!

        JESUS!!!!

        They cocked like that because their technique allows for faster discharge than just pulling the trigger, because not cocking results in a longer pull distance and a harder/more resistance pull.

        And at the very end, you’ll notice that she shot two targets, not cocking the second shot. So double action.

        Most people use double action revolvers, like me, but we’re a tad slower, (Okay, more than a tad.) most remarkable is these guys are hitting these small targets shooting from the HIP.

        It’s unheard of these days.

        • You’re right about a revolver being single action. Here it is from Gun Digest: “Single actions derive their name from the fact that they can only be fired by cocking the hammer and squeezing the trigger one shot at a time, whereas the double action can be fired in the same manner as the single action or simply by squeezing the trigger to fire – hence “double action.”

          Some video I was watching said it was confusing, and I guess I adopted that confusion. I got it backwards (trying to show off my one ounce of knowledge …).

          The fast-draw guys and gals are amazingly fast, and they can hit targets as well. Bob Mundred has a few videos out in which he burst two balloons eight feet apart, but it sounds like one shot. They play the video in ultra slow motion to separate the two. Those guys practice a lot, probably most of the time without loading. There’s an “idiots with guns” video that shows some guy trying a “draw” but he shoots himself in the leg. I tried a “chef speed” onion chopping in the kitchen once and almost got my fingers. Farm tractors kill a lot of people. Anything not understood and used properly is dangerous, even a baby crib.

        • Sorry, meant you’re right about single action / double action, not “revolvers being single action”. I’m guessing the action refers to the action of the trigger. In a double action, it both cocks and releases, while in a single action the hammer must be cocked first, and the trigger only does the single action of releasing the hammer.

  3. It’s strange why a regime which has the manpower and resources to monitor and terrorize civilians showing any dissent can’t control crime. Cannot control or refuse to act?

    • This is a good observation. Cuba, in spite of its other deficiencies (political and economic) has low rates of crime. The streets are safe to walk at night.

      The difference is that in Venezuela the regime made political partners out of all the various criminal mafias operating in the the country. Chavez saw them as fellow travelers and did business with them. But, now that there aren’t enough spoils to go around, why are the criminals still tolerated by the government? Or, is it just a matter of shear incompetence?

  4. Chicago is often cited as a disaster of “gun free zone”. Occasionally media will print a story about a town in Georgia that requires every household to have a functional gun (not decorative antique), and has one of the lowest crime / burglary rates in the nation. It’s not just random talk or isolated instances. One recent story was of a cop who (probably trying to use minimal force) was overpowered physically by a criminal, struggling on the ground, but a citizen with a gun-carry permit pulled his gun out and pointed it at the crimnal’s head. The criminal forgot about everything and just ran away in a panic. They caught him a few blocks away.

    Switzerland used to require that every household have a fully automatic functional machine gun with ammunition. The history of the Swiss is warlike, oddly enough. The country used to be un-united cantons, like counties with their own sovereign governments, but they ran into problems because other countries would hire mercenary canton armies to fight in their wars (the Swiss were very good), and the cantons ended up fighting and killing each other. So they united as a country, to solve that.

    You’re spot on that the criminals are the ones who don’t give a hoot about rights and laws. Which is why the U.S. doesn’t want illegals invading, people who have already shown that they do not respect rights and laws.

  5. But Whateverzuela is not Cuba. Cuba is a true communist country. Venezuela is Socialist. Read Marx to see the difference

    During the golden period of the present regime, 2003-2010 you could read how ”prans” controlled prisons. Under Iris Varela command. All major prisons were like nightclubs or tourist resorts, you could organize big social events, from Baptisms to First Communion, Quinseañeara parties to Marriages. Etc.

    This was only reported by the foreign press, even French Magazines. A sector of Margarita Island was once spread on with bullets, like a rain of lead. People were hiding under the cars, under their beds. We here totally scared calling relatives and other to see what was happening. OMERTA. The locals look at that as a minor inconvenience. As long as everyone was able to trade dollars from the official market to the black market ”qué fastidio con los pranes”, meanwhile travel to Miami and Spain, etc. carried on.

    This is like bubonic plague or black fever, once it is freed up and you don’t control it because in fact is a great convenience to corrupt of all kind (not only government) this discussion is completely useless.

    Viva los cupos, raspadera de tarjetas, Black-Market, etc. This country is paradise on Earth!!!

    PS: I just checked about pensions paid in Petros and people truly believe they own oil barrels. 😆 😂 🤣

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