(en)Venezuela: Torturers yesterday, democrats today (ca)

Luis Prat (prat@chem.ucsb.edu)
Wed, 26 Feb 1997

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The concerns of the Pentagon change with the times. During the 1970s 'Pentagonism' (the name we give to the doctrine of hemispheric security, managed by the USA) concentrated on fighting those guerrillas who were trying to emulate the Cuban experience. Thus we saw support coming from the so-called 'School of the Americas' in Panama where they trained suitable personnel from the various Latin American military forces. Among these teachings stood out counter-subversion warfare based on a knowledge of the ten thousand way you can torture someone. Specialists in torture they graduated from the Pentagon's learning centre and some of them even succeeded in becoming banana republic presidents e.g. Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.

A few years ago the 'School of the Americas' moved to the state of Georgia, in the heart of the USA proper, and some changes entered the curriculum: no longer was torture, psychological warfare and enemy elimination to be taught but instead, its very opposite, respect for human rights, protecting democratic regimes and economic liberalism. Of course there were some specialised courses such as the fight against narco-trafficers, how to dismantle a cartel in 7 weeks and how to support the tools of the DEA within 24 hours. This was to be called Pluralism.

But with the revelations from the Pentagon with regard to lessons meted out in Panama by the School in question the whitewashers of history began to appear in profusion. Keep your ears clean, boy, and watch out for the warts especially when talking to the press. In Venezuela, for example, it was noticed that there was a particular eagerness for the Pentagon's pupils to apply the lessons they had learnt with particular rigour. In fact, the army of the Venezuelan representative democracy actively installed throughout the 60s and 70s the so-called 'theatres of operations' in those zones where insurgency was concentrated. Thus they sprang up in Yumare, Monagas and Falcon. Today these 'theatres' are being set up in the border region with Colombia, in order to fight those guerrillas in the neighbouring Republic. In these installations, like concentration camps under military control, not only are insurgents detained but also peasant folk and their leaders who are not controlled by the Federacio'n Campesina - a bureaucratic union type body controlled by Accio'n Democra'tica, the political party of the ruling class.

Today we are beginning to learn the real number of those who disappeared or were tortured and didn't live to tell the tale. Before the disappearances in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile there was already many in Venezuela. Among these was one Alberto Lovera, an insurgent leader whose body was found washed up on the beach at Lecheri'as tied up with chains so he would drown. Lovera was lame from birth with a friendly character. What the army did to him was largely the responsibility of the 'money man' - the man in charge of finances for the war... But there were many others, including those in those sectors which supported the war when the Venezuelan Communist Party, acting as Captain Spider left everyone in the lurch (the policy of the VCP was by then named "democratic peace" and was adopted by a Central Comittee plenum that took place in Falcon in 1965, as the political police had the big party chiefs under arrest and had forced them to abandon the armed struggle to save their necks, primarily, and because it was obvious that the large majority of armed actions were being betrayed at the highest levels of the politburo and among the informants the finger was pointed at Pedro Ortega Diaz, labor lawyer who today presides over what remains of the "glorious marxist-leninist party")

Some of these groupings came together in the National Liberation Front (FLN). Alejandro Tejero Cuenca, Galician by birth but taken to Venezuela as a boy, a key figure in the FLN was arrested by the Intelligence services (SIFA) in 1967, taken to Yumare... and that was the last that was heard of him. There were many such cases, perhaps too many for a country with such a small population as it had in 1970.

During those years, those who were arrested by the main police body (DIGEPOL), confined in the 'tigritos' and submitted to interrogation, recognised immediately the North American 'specialists' by their 'spanglish'. Guillermo Garci'a Ponce, one of those who sent young men to war whilst he stayed in the comfort of his home because of his position of 'leader', has said recently that there were not only North American torturers but also French who had specialised in such practices during the Algerian civil war. The interest shown by the 'School of the Americas' in Venezuela is based primarily in the strategic importance of this country for Yankee geopolitics. Venezuela is the world's 3rd biggest oil producer and in the case of some kinds of hydrocarbon it is the biggest. With the new policy of 'Opening up the oil industry' which began in January 1996 came also the politics of concessions, by means of which North American, European and Japanese capital will control the development of the Venezuelan hydrocarbon industry.

-------------------------------- >>>>Fact File<<<<
=VENEZUELA= ***Population*** 20.8m ***Population per Km sq.*** 23 ***Human Development index.*** 82 ***Average inflation. 1989-94*** 47.2% ***Main Export Destination*** United States (50.8%) ***Foreign Debt as % of GDP.*** 64.3 ***Cost of Living Sept 1994 (New York=100)*** 47 ------------------------------------

Venezuela's damnation is hir oil. From a society of shopkeepers and peasants, which it was in 1914, it has become a country of sprawling cities where lawyers and parasites build hir institutions. Lawyers invented the politics of pragmatics, including two or three democratic versions and building institutions based on oil revenues rather than the labour of the people. The parasites, trading throughout the country, were the real power behind the throne. The lawyers invented 'nationalisation' of the oil industry and now call for denationalisation. The management of the company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is a real clan within the ruling class, in reality, next to the parasites who control the presidential throne. Frequently the management of PDVSA hands out prospective studies to reputable gringo and European firms. Currently a study of the country's environment for the next 20 years has been handed to some New York futurologists with Japanese backing. The School in question has ensured that Venezuela should follow a path of strong government if they really want to cut off at the root the various political and social groupings who would oppose the oil business. Nostalgic for the dictatorships, the managers of PDVSA feel uncomfortable when national sectors ask for explanations.

Yesterdays torturers plead their lifelong democratic sensibilities and they stuff their faces whilst telling us of popular sovereignty expressed through the ballot box.. Mere words. In reality this country is still ruled by those same interests and by the heirs of those very classes who brought about Independence and who carried on with the exploiting and oppressive model of Spanish colonialism and who today are denationalising the oil industry. How little things have changed.

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Luis @@@@@@@@@@ Luis J. Prat University of California Chemistry Dept. Santa Barbara CA 93106 (805) 893-3295 (805) 893-4120 FAX


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