Friday, December 03, 2004

Milagros Socorro today's column, translated

The translation from the previous article. Please, pass around as I truly think it is a key writing for our days. You can pass either version, in particular to Chavez supporters that you might know. If anything, they will leave you alone for a time while they figure out a real answer, if possible.

I have deleted two minor portions one difficult to understand for non Venezuelans and one too long for this late hour.
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“We shot him like a dog”

By Milagros Socorro, El Nacional

Two horrible certainties cornered Venezuela when it was known that prosecutor Danilo Anderson had been assassinated: we will never know what happened –or we will wait too much to know-; and this crime will unleash a wave of bloody events, repression and abuse of power. The two nefarious intuitions have been matched in real time, with an aggravating fact no less terrifying, that society finds itself in complete skepticism when listening all factors and spokespersons. “I do not believe anyone”, is what we hear with the most frequency.

But there is one voice that should enjoy credibility. The voice of the victims, who have no further interest than the elucidation of the events that have them prostrated physically or emotionally undone. I have believed Haydée Castillo when she told me, in an interview for this newspaper, at her Oripoto home, that an officer of PTJ [snip] told her, Tuesday, a few hours after the murder of Antonio López Castillo on a major avenue: “Your son, we shot him like a dog”.

Inasmuch as frightening as it is, I believe her. I am convinced that Haydée Castillo tells the truth, that a member of the Venezuelan State public administration, a member of a group that got into her house illegally –because it lacked the necessary search warrant- looked at her in her eyes and bragged of having put an end to her son’s life as if he were a beast without rights and without human condition. I also vouch for the words of the father of Juan Carlos Sánchez when he says that if his son was a suspect in some misdeed they did not have to embroider him with bullets but bring him to interrogation.

I believe the victims, absolutely, without reservation. I believe, thus, that there is a victimizer, an executioner, an implacable hand whose actions are at the edge of the polarization, of the political or ideological fight -if there were one- and who acts strictly at a criminal level. This conviction rests in the lack of trust in the institutions and the people that represent them just as the keel of a ship plows into the darkness. We can stop believing anything except the clamor of the victims of these crimes. And if these victims exist, then there are criminals. Plain criminals, not political operators, not defenders of the revolution, not representatives of the excluded.

They are called “assassins” and we must point at them, the more so if they attack transforming the state in their refuge.

[snip, on Chile’s president Lagos talking the other night on the report on human rights abuses after September 11 1973]

In his speech, president Lagos said that the report, an experience without precedent in the world, had been able to enter a somber dimension in the life of the Chilean nation, “in a deep abysm of sufferings and torments”, because it made them face “an unavoidable reality: political prison and torture constituted an institutional practice of the State which is absolutely unacceptable and alien to the historical tradition of Chile.” How to explain such a horror? -wondered Lagos- What could provoke such human behaviors as described there? “I do not have an answer in front of this”. The report of course did not aim at dissecting the criminal soul but to “open the veil of torture, humiliation, physical and psychological violation”. And this, at least, was achieved. Because it was not about the horrors committed 31 years ago, but to “recognize the deviation, the loss of objective that made the Armed Forces and the State sway from its historical tradition, of its own doctrines that saw them be born and grow”, to build, from the truth, a future of unity and tolerance. With this recognition of the responsibility of the State in the tortures and illegal detentions of thousand of Chileans, the government will grant 60 millions annually to pay economical reparations to the recognized victims.

The report that President Lagos referred to –available in Internet- discredit the thesis of the existence of an internal war to justify the application of torture during the military regime. And it establishes that “The Armed and Order Forces managed the control of the country on the very same day of the coup, without suffering major setbacks anywhere”.

Among the most striking allusions in the report –that expresses severe critics to the behavior of other institutions in addition to the security apparatus of the State- one can find a raw accusation on the role of the Judicial system, in particular the Supreme Court, which it points as surrendering its faculty to control and monitor the military tribunals in time of war. “The Supreme Court unlinked itself from the abuses and faults committed by the military tribunals, not only in their operations, but also in their decisions”.

The text talks of complicity between the highest authorities of the Judicial Power and the military, and it accuses the main judges of the time not only of ignoring the abuses, but to even refuse to grant validity to the accusation of violations of human rights. The report says: “the helplessness of the citizenry, responsibility of the Judicial Power who condoned the systematic violations of human rights by State agents or people serving it, must be attributed foremost to the ministers of the Supreme Court, whose conduct marked the direction of the lower courts”.

In the part pertaining to the effects of abuses on the victims, the report establishes that for “the majority of the victims that were the objectives of repression, the first impact was to discover that aggression, torture and the threat of death were coming from agents of the State”.

Under this impact are to be found the victims of the abuses committed these days by the Venezuelan State, -including prosecutor Danilo Anderson and his relatives, since the investigation is a function of the State- which distills in the sentence spat at Haydée Castillo’s face by a policeman that now should be in jail for breaking in a home, and who it seems cannot be indicted for having killed a citizen like an animal, just as he recognized in front of the mother of the deceased.

It is possible that we might have to wait a few decades to know the truth, to judge the guilty and make up in some way the victims. In this painful present, it is good to dust off the crystal of the compass, so as not to lose oneself in the labyrinth of confusion and loss of credibility: while the high judges avoid their responsibility, the country is being brutalized by delinquents who entrap us protected by an Identification Card with the seals of the Republic. Of that neither I doubt.

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