Horror and the Police

Translated by Rebecca Hanson, originally published here.

Just looking at the current events section in the country’s newspapers is enough to take notice of the horror that worsens in our day to day. In Venezuela we are all witnesses to what has been happening for some time, yet at the same time we see how little this horror is grasped and understood by the political classes.

In the past few weeks, part of this intensifying horror has come at the hands of the numerous incursions of the FAES—Special Action Forces of the National Bolivarian Police—that have taken place across the nation. Despite the fact that these raids have multiplied throughout the country, the profile of those affected and the zones in which they operate remain the same: young excluded men from marginalized popular sectors.

“When the government comes there is nothing to do but hide ourselves,” one family member of a youth assassinated during a police raid in a poor neighborhood in Caracas told us. “What can we do? This happens to us because we are poor…” the person said. She found no other explanation for what had happened: Two of her sons had been killed inside her home, ostensibly during a confrontation with police.

There are numerous cases of people that protest and demand answers for the irregularities of these police incursions. During the raids no one from the public prosecutor’s office or the state-run human rights agency is present, police do not allow family members to enter their own homes, there are delays in the return of cadavers, and proof and documents are not coherent, among other issues.

As time goes on, the logic of the raids becomes increasingly lethal and specific, as was demonstrated in the last weeks of September when the FAES invaded different poor neighborhoods in Caracas at the same time, resulting in at least 7 Venezuelans killed.

In the majority of cases the motive or cause for the killing is a supposed “confrontation or resistance to authority”, to which one father of a victim told us: “Where are the injured police? Ah? It doesn’t match up…the huge numbers of confrontations that they say happen, and we never see anything, we never hear anything…What confrontations?”

This situation is repeated in various states in the country, where numerous “confrontations” include grenades and high caliber weapons. From police forces no clarity is offered on this question: Where do these guns, grenades, rifles, and bullets come from?

While this questions foes unanswered, we also see an agreement between certain sectors of civil society and the State: The assumption that all who die do so because they are “thugs” and this is enough to justify the elimination of life, a belief that the only destiny of poor youth on a violent life trajectory is death.

As long as things remain as they are, the right to life of so many youths will continue being violated by raids, representative of an iron fist that reproduces a system in which the State has arbitrary and tyrannical power over the life of citizens.

If the actions of the FAES and other security forces remain exempt from all legal and human criteria, the cycle of violence will continue to perpetuate itself. Politics of horror are not sustainable. But before we can consider an expiration date, alliances and agreements are needed between political factions and diverse social sectors—which continue to fight against each other—in order to understand that the massacre of our youths is a loss from which we cannot come back. On the contrary, it will generate even more tragic consequences in the future.