Sunday, March 18, 2012

Karen and Carolina, our dictatorship poster girls

This week end we saw two incidents that reminded us how far into a dictatorship system we have been entered.  I know, I know, some may want to remind me that I can still type my blog (for how long?  bloggers and twitters have already been prosecuted in Venezuela), I can come and go out of the country (I cannot because I cannot tale my belongings with me), there are elections (but the results are voided as the regime pleases), there is still Globovision in the air (bot for how long, and only in Caracas and Valencia), etc...  Whether you like to admit it, Chavez regime is a XXI century dictatorship, the new breed where it is enough to control the judiciary to perpetuate oneself in office.  For those who disagree with me I kindly ask them to explain away the two stories that come next.

Karen got shot

One of organized crime mode of action in Venezuela is to establish fake police barrages so as to kidnap the surprised victim.  The most famous instance was the Faddoul brothers, the three of them killed by their captors when the ransom thing did not work out as planned.  But too many people have succumbed to such true horror stories and still keep falling.  We should thus not be surprised that Friday night the brother of Karen Berendique did not believe that he was facing a police barrage and tried to escape yet another attempt against his person.  The CICPC, our local FBI of sorts, shot, but not at the tires or the car, they shot directly at the windows trying to get the passengers who were not shooting back, whatsoever.  Karen Berendique, 19 years old, received three gun shots and died promptly.

This would have been just yet another "fait divers" but this time the very innocent victim was the daughter of Chile's honorary consul in Maracaibo and as such the response from Chile was swift and to the point: the Venezuelan state is unable to guarantee the security of its citizens and its so called security is nothing better than the thugs it supposedly tries to stop.  Thus we are in the midst of a major scandal because like all the scandals that are currently besotting us (oil spills, electricity and food shortages, the end of tap drinking water, etc ...) this one hits too close from home.  We all have suffered form police abuse at these roadblocks which are at best nothing more in day time but a way to get some cash form the driver, and at worst, a constant danger of mob attack against your freedom and humanity.  I can vouch personally that one time I did not stop at a road block in spite of being signed to do so because it looked suspect, it was night and thus I just kept going on with traffic.....

In other words as a country we have long lost any faith in the system that is supposed to protect us from crime, we now associate it with crime and this, my friends, is the hallmark of living under a dictatorship.  In a dictatorship police can act with such brutality because it knows that in the end little will happen to them even though today they were arraigned.

Carolina got shut

Not as dramatic but quite as telling was an interview last night of famous designer Carolina Herrera in CÑN by Cala.  The guy is simply irritating like hell, but my relatives were watching it and from afar I heard the interview with a distracted ear. That is, until the talk show host asked Carolina Herrera to discuss Venezuelan politics, which she firmly refused.

No, why would world famous fashion icon Carolina Herrera refuse to have a single political word on CÑN?  We all know that from her background she cannot possibly be a Chavez supporter (and we certainly would have known so by now).  She certainly does not live off the Venezuelan nouveau riche bolibourgeois class since her empire existed already when Chavez came to power, and today extends all over the world.  Even if Venezuela ranked high in her billing we could not expect it to be much more than in the single digit percentile.  She certainly can afford to alienate Chavez on a personal level: she has been living in New York since 1980 and has enough money to thumb her nose to whomever she wishes to.

So, what gives?  The answer was elsewhere: she still has a daughter living in Venezuela, she still has other relatives who happen to own some significant real estate and business in Venezuela.  Thus, even world famous Carolina Herrera, heading an empire maybe worth a billion bucks cannot say anything because the regime would have ways to swiftly punish her through her relatives in Venezuela. A kidnapping of her daughter or grandchildren? A mere kidnapping of a relative for example for which anyway she would have to pay the ransom?  Or loss of property for other relatives (such as was the case of Diego Arria who was robbed of his farm, named La Carolina incidentally, because he spoke ill of Chavez).

Even Carolina Herrera cannot escape the tentacles of the Venezuelan dictatorship, with all of her millions and world fame, hoping that at the very least, by staying quiet on the topic she may protect a little bit more her relatives who cannot leave Venezuela.....


  1. Boludo Tejano11:40 PM

    Diplomats often get hardship allowances according to the country where they are posted. At this rate, governments will have to pay sky-high hardship allowances to get any diplomat to consent to go to Venezuela.

    Get posted to Venezuela? "Over my dead body." "Same difference."

    Times have changed. I never felt any sense of danger when I was in Venezuela.

    1. Boludo Tejano,

      Actually, you are wrong, but not for the reasons you cite. Good diplomats, like good soldiers, want to be where the action is. This is where the opportunities for glory and promotion exist.

      Which is not to say that they will want to bring their families. You can know that serious trouble is brewing when the embassies and consulates send families and "non-essential personnel" out of the country.

  2. Anonymous12:12 AM

    I agree. Times have changed. Venezuela was a beautiful country with beautiful proud people. Now I refuse to enter Venezuela. I fear for my life and those with me. Anybody can get shot and justice will not come. The two mentioned in the post are part of the 100,000+ who have been injured or murdered because Chavez refuses to fight crime.

    1. Ronaldo12:17 AM

      Justice would mean cutting Chavez vocal cords and dropping him off alone in the worst barrio after midnight while wearing his expensive watch and best suit.

  3. Charly12:20 AM

    Ho that beautiful yellow color he had when he came off the plane from Havana.

  4. Anonymous12:26 AM

    I've had an Anzoategui police officer who did not identify himself as such, get out of his personal car, and pull a BIG F*****G revolver from under his shirt and point it at my head (I was in the driver's seat of my car). That wasn't fun! I was just trying to help my boss look for a 24 hour cauchera because his car stranded just outside of El Tigre late at night without a spare. Another colleague, who was proficient in Spanish, was trying to explain to head police that showed up who had the power to decide let us go or not, what we were doing. This jefe guy kept asking why we didn't trust them. My friend told him they haven't done anything to earn our trust. That's when the jefe pulled out a 12 gauge shotgun from his vehicle and placed it in plain sight. My friend decided to agree with them and be on our way.
    They are just thugs.
    -oso negro

    1. Boludo Tejano3:30 AM

      oso negro, to show you how times have changed, I had a very pleasant experience with Anaco police. I arrived by por puesto at 3:00 a.m. from Maiquetia. The company had given me minimal contact information, not even an address- just the name of the manager. I went to the police, wondering if they could help me. They couldn't find an phone number for my manager's residence- understandable because it was probably under the landlord's name. The police let me sleep in their dorm and drove me to the company office in the morning.

      The manager's instructions helped settle me in. 1) Bring some whiskey to the police station. Put it on the expense account, billed in a discreet manner. Which was not a bribe, but appreciation for kind treatment. 2) He told me how to finesse police bribes on the expense account. While I did pay some bribes [but not a soborno santo], I never paid one to Anaco cops.

    2. Anonymous11:39 AM

      I really think the police pulled the gun from under his tunic was on drugs. He was very aggressive and acting crazy. Maybe he was just showing off for the woman in his car. It was also the same evening where Chavez expelled the U.S. Ambassador so maybe the guy was on a anti-gringo high or something.

      On day met a real asshole police officer in Puerto la Cruz; a guy who overstep his authority (tried to steal my kayak). In another PLC incident, a [Canadian] friend was exiting a taxi on the curb side of the car, when a motorcycle police tried to go between the car and the curb. The police hit the taxi's door so she detained and needed to be bailed out because of his stupidity.

      But then I've encounter some very helpful police officers in Lecheria and the Transito police.

      I think it depends from department to department; who's in charge, and what kind of message they are getting in their station houses.
      - oso negro

  5. Boludo Tejano,

    I never had any trouble with the police either and I lived there from the late 60's to 4 years after Chavez came to power; on the contrary, they helped me out quite a few times and forgave my errors like when I was learning to drive stick shift without a license, and accidentally knocked a policeman downa small cliff, and he didn't even get angry at me.I spent a life time being treated well by the police there....BUT....they were not so nice to most people BT.The truth is many people were afraid of them and were unfairly treated by them.Many police were downright dangerous.We were lucky, but many were not.

    The seeds of this were planted long before Chavez.Chavez came and made it much worse, but the tendency was inherent, and now after Chavez's handiwork it will not go away easily for this reason.

  6. It tells you a great deal about cops and their training when they think deadly force is an appropriate response to running a roadblock.
    "In the case of lethal force, other levels of force must have been attempted first unless lethal force is the only way to minimize loss of life" and
    "The benchmark as to whether the use of force is considered lawful are whether it was reasonable, proportionate, legitimate & necessary."
    How to "minimize loss of life" when there is no threat? Don't shoot. If these guys had had proper training, this would not have happened.

    I do understand paranoia about the roadblocks, to be sure. I was in another LatAm country once, riding in the back seat of a taxi with another passenger in the left-hand lane. It was three lanes across, and there was a police checkpoint on the right. Just as we were passing it, and I was looking over, one cop pointed right at me, then at the ground next to him. First of all, what the hell was I supposed to do as a passenger, and second, why did he wait until we were already passing by quickly? I just ducked my head down, because I thought anyone idiotic enough to try such a stunt might just be idiotic enough to pull his gun. I guess he was at least a little less stupid than these guys.

    (By the way, when you say "barrage" it should be "barricade." When the car did not stop at the police barricade, Karen died in a barrage of bullets.)

  7. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Todo esto para decir que estamos sobreviviendo en un pais sin ley, de puros corruptos y salvese quien pueda. Dios todo poderoso librenos del Mal! Amen Rogar a Dios es lo que nos queda mientras se boliburguesean más. La Maga Lee

  8. Last week I saw all over the local news -TV AND paper- that some policemen were being under investigation for shooting...a dog.

    Each time one police shoots his firearm, there is an investigation, regardless if someone died or not, mostly to determine if it was absolutely necessary.

    A cleaning process of the Venezuelan police forces is long time overdue. They need to be better trained, better educated, better paid and less corrupted. they need to understand that they are there to protect the people, to serve them, and not to kill them.

    1. Yes, being accountable for every bullet. What's wrong with that? I read an article recently which said in Guatemala how many police officers had had their guns stolen. OK, that happens, maybe. But the shocking part was that about twice as many had simply "lost" their weapons. Not the bullets. The guns themselves. When accountability is at a minimum, you can't expect responsibility.

  9. Island Canuck10:35 AM

    Caracas Gringo has written a very thought provoking article on what may happen in Venezuela if the chief dies or the opposition wins the election.

    Well worth a read:

    Just some samples.

    "When the explosion happens, it will eclipse the rioting of the Caracazo of 1989 by several orders of magnitude, he adds.

    “Everything is broken and collapsing, there are no institutions, the violence is getting much worse and even Chavez cannot control it,” he said.

    Indeed. Daily power outages, contaminated water, crumbling roads and highways, shrinking agricultural and livestock production, homicidal criminal violence, and much more…all of it growing worse by the day."

    "Now… close your eyes for a minute and imagine an eruption of social and political violence several orders of magnitude greater than the failed coup attempts of 1992; a city-wide explosion continuing for several days or even weeks, with spillover in oehr cities around the country, with potentially thousands of heavily armed “red” urban militants on the orowl and committed to preserving their revolution at any cost, targeting individuals who are known to oppose the regime and who therefore are “legitimate military objectives.”"

    There's it.

  10. Dr. Faustus12:00 PM

    As per the above quote:

    "....committed to preserving their revolution at any cost, targeting individuals who are known to oppose the regime and who therefore are “legitimate military objectives.”"

    This just across the news wires, Chavez says that Caprilles might be assassinated by one from his own party. Frightening. Chilling. In other words, if someone kills Caprilles, it will be the fault of someone from their own party. Chavez has already declared the 'future suspect' to be from the United Front. Unbelievable. It gives a whole new meaning to Inspector Renault's statement of 'arrest the usual suspects.' (Casablanca) Stop and think as to what Chavez has done. This is a huge story.

  11. Island Canuck12:27 PM

    There is a video this morning on ND showing Chavez saying almost exactly the same thing about Rosales in 2008(?).
    Tried to find it & couldn't but it was there a few hours ago.

    This is just another irresponsible action by a mentally ill dictator who's losing an election. The threats & lies will continue every day.

    Like Diosdado saying Pablo Perez was directly responsible for the death of the daughter of the consul from Chile. WTF??

    1. Boludo Tejano3:56 PM

      There is a video this morning on ND showing Chavez saying almost exactly the same thing about Rosales in 2008(?).Tried to find it & couldn't but it was there a few hours ago.
      Caracas Gringo has it, among others.

  12. This song reminds me of Venezuela and those who are fighting with courage... just a few lines:

    "it's sick and it's hungry, it's tired and it's seems to be a dyin' and it's a hardly been born....

    then it goes on to mention the men who have done something worth while, and makes a dedication to 'all the good people' that travel with you, and here to 'the hands and the hearts of the men...

    ' that come with the dust and are gone with the wind...

    Those who have stood by it,unlike myself, have been' hittin some hard traveling too' :(



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