Venezuela: The Blood We Share

Un comerciante lava la sangre de uno de los fallecidos el 12 de febrero de este año en Caracas, cuando explotaron las protestas a nivel nacional.
A merchant cleans blood from the footpath, blood that belonged to the people killed on February 12 in Caracas. (Elisa Vásquez)

EspañolThe blood we share washes off the asphalt as it is being cleaned up, and mixes with the dust of Venezuela’s streets.

On Monday, a man was killed at a local café in El Hatillo at 10:40 a.m. It is an area on the outskirts of Caracas, known for being relatively peaceful.

Two armed men riding motorcycles entered the coffee shop, and as demonstration of power and impunity, they killed the man.

People in chaos at Rey David, La Boyera.

Whether this event was linked to a contract killing is unclear, or how some journalists have claimed that it was to “settle a debt.” Venezuelans may deflect the issue and say, “they are not going to touch me,” but the reality is that the innocent and the guilty are similarly being killed on the streets, regardless of the motive.

Uniform justice is of no concern, and each individual can enforce it according to his own judgement. This appears to be the logic of those who accept “contract killings,” so as to not feel fear or pain.

My observation comes from direct experience. The morning after February 12 of this year, when the protester Bassil DaCosta and the ruling-party activist Juancho Montoya were shot to death, I walked — as I used to every day — by the place where there was still fresh blood. Following the latest events, I assumed it was Bassil’s blood.

I sat down for a while to mourn the victims. I felt that they deserved my time. People passed by and avoided the blood with disgust, cold. Some of them did not even see it, as though nothing had happened the day before on the corner of Tracabordo, in Candelaria, Caracas.

As can be seen in the picture I took (above), the owner of the store, which is right in front of the blood, was washing it off, but it would not come off the pavement.

A few people whom I interviewed were touched by Bassil’s death, but not by Juancho’s. Many saw him as culpable for the crimes, murders, and other unfortunate outcomes related to Chavismo.

Parte de los homenajes hechos a Bassil el día después de su asesinato, hace casi seis meses.
Part of the tribute paid to Bassil’s the day after he was murdered, almost six months ago. (Elisa Vásquez)

At the corner, we set up a little altar with images and messages for Bassil. The people wrote phrases on the wall, and some of the neighbors prayed. This could not be ignored.

However, a few days later I learnt that the blood I was crying for was Juancho’s, whom I interviewed for El Universal when he was part of the disarmament plan for the pro-government militias.

At that moment, I experienced the feeling that led me to this reflection: for me, Juancho’s death was not as important as Bassil’s. I felt horrified by the thought for a moment. It was the origin of the “little pain” I felt for Juancho, and disrespect for the lives and rights of our opponents that corrodes my country. Who was I to judge the value of Juancho’s life?

I realized that the blood of all those who have been murdered is one we share, because in Venezuela, it seems that there is no peaceful way to resolve anything. Too often, we assume the authority to condemn others, to define and coerce appropriate lifestyles, thoughts, religions, and sexual orientation.

Within the family, schools, condominium boards, and communal councils, totalitarianism rules the day. Everyone is waiting for his turn to exercise power over others.

The massive wave of murders that we witness every day are no more than an extension of that same mentality: everyone thinks he has license to decide the fate of the lives of others. This widely held perception demonstrates the lack of the concept of freedom in our society.

The strategies of the current government — and sometimes of the opposition — confirms this as well. They devote themselves to a long chain of decisions that impose a unique way of life, where law and justice depend on the whims of country’s ruler (see the case of Leopoldo López and other political prisoners). Many supporters of both sides just want the totalitarianism to sway to their own convenience.

It appears we have not learned anything from the fruits of such thinking.

An unpunished murder is a consequence of that little dictator that all of us have inside. I hope that this week, in El Hatillo, the people will not be content with saying “It was the result of a contract killing. He must have done something wrong,” because we share that blood as well.

Translated by Mariana Nava.

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