Vaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgggggación, primo!

Actual pirates may be less cute.

Lo que nos faltaba. Maracaibo newspaper La Verdad just ran this stunning piece on the latest innovations of Zulian criminality. Pirates are now working the Lago de Maracaibo. Like, actual pirates.

[Enter favorite pirate joke here…]

Now it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Ask Andry Nava. The 42-year old local fisherman actually lost one of his eyes after being shot by one group of local pirates. Even with just one eye, the guy needs to make a living. And what’s worrying him now is that the attacks are putting his livelihood under threat:

“We can’t work with those criminals around. Every time we set sail, we commend ourselves to God hoping we can come back alive.”

(Note to Andry: consider commending yourself to God before you eat any of the fish you catch in the lake, too.)

Acting at night, groups of 3 to 5 pirates head out to hold up boats and steal outboard motors from local fishermen. They then hold them for ransom. The state oil company PDVSA has denounced that those groups have sabotaged their operations in the Lake.

As noticed in this El Nacional article from last year, lack of action from the National Guard and the Navy (whose job it is to keep territorial waters safe) have forced the fishermen to organize and arm themselves in order to protect their lives and work.

It’s not quite on the scale of what’s happening in Somalia: their coast is right next to one of the most important commercial maritime routes and the world, and it doesn’t help not to have a government. But just like in Somalia, the situation in the Lago shows that the simple formula applies here, there and everywhere:

Ineffectual Security Forces + Water = Pirates.

51 thoughts on “Vaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgggggación, primo!

  1. Yo-uh-ah-ah
    Yo-uh-ah-ah
    Fifteen men on the dead leader’s chair–
    …Yo-uh-ah-ah, and a bottle of scotch!

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  2. you are without doubt the worst pirate I have ever heard of …
    Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow): … but you have heard of me …
    From Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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  3. Shiver me timburrs !!! I had herrrrd about robbed fishermen but i didn’t knew it was a whole operation!

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    • Carl, Do you find the video that you posted comical? I fail to see the humour in it and will tell you that it appears to be racist. If you look carefully at the video, the only pirates left standing after the balacera are the white ones. I am not sure if you are Venezuelan, but if you are, shame on you.

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      • Dude, you’ve never heard about South Park? Its an American animated show that ruthlessly and hilariously satirizes everything. This is an episode about Somalian Pirates and it actually portrays the pirates in a sympathetic light.

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          • Its for people who never outgrew toilet humour. My heroes. By the way, good in spanish too.

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            • I absoluty hate South Park…MY gringo husband and my gringa daughter found it very funny…I guess that my venezuelan-spanish roots do not understand how something so anoying can be funny.

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        • South Park is amazing. Beyond the fart jokes and toilet humor it’s actually one of the smartest satires on TV right now.

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      • El Pipo,
        I have actually posted a couple of things about the Somali situation. I think the video is very silly and superficial yet I – an African American- don’t find it racist at all. The blacks are the ones killed? You can see it as a humiliation (like in “they can’t defend themselves, hohoho” or like what I think the intention was: that is precisely what is happening there. The ones doing most of the plundering in Somalia are fisheries of EU and Chinese origin, the pirates are a consequence rather.
        The piracy in Somalia actually started only after those foreigners, profiting from Somalia’s civil war, decided to simply to start fishing there as if there is no tomorrow, leaving Somali fishermen empty-handed.

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        • The video its taken from a South Park episode satirizing the Somalian Pirate Situation and the idealization of piracy by children. That scene is a satire on the hijacking of a ship called Alabama where several Somali pirates were shot in a similar manner. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maersk_Alabama_hijacking. This is the full episode http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s13e07-fatbeard , The creators of South Park might push it sometimes with their humor for some (I usually find them hilarious), but sometimes they make observation about the American reality that are more brilliant and insightful than anything that you can find in the mainstream media.

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            • Yeap, it won 9 Tonys. I tried to get tickets, but the show its sold out for months! Did you watch Team America, World Police? Love how they tear apart Sean Penn in that one.

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            • I love this lines of Sean Penn talking about Iraq:
              “Last year I went to Iraq. Before Team America showed up, it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.”
              Substitute Iraq for Venezuela and it pretty much sums up Sean Penn politics (brilliant actor though)

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        • Kepler, I appreciate you weighing-in on this discussion – I expected you to do so. I still fail to see the humour, but I appreciate your explanation. By the way, you are not the only negro on this blog (for those of you who are not Venezuelan, I need to point out that I am using “negro” as the term is used in Venezuela, and not in the same way that non criollos would use it).

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          • The whole point of the clip is that the national armed forces of the “civilized” world will only intervene in outrageous criminal operations if the media makes a circus around it, usually centered around the lives of a few innocent looking white folk.

            Further, these pirate threats are really quite easy to deal with if a minimal percentage of state money is invested in wiping them out.

            The episode also explores the fact that the Somali pirates choose a life of extremely dangerous crime, not because they are psychopathic cartoons, but because there is really just no food to eat.

            South Park ftw

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            • I remember watching a documentary about this….being a pirate in Somaliahas its positive sign. Pirates can provide more than the regular honest Somali JUan Bimba, and they are respected for that.

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        • Kepler- I knew youwere lot of things-but, an african american-c’mon man. I thought you
          were german? You always surprise me..ok, it’s off-topic…
          For the record-Ihave always said I am 1/2 french and the other half is mostly english, irish, german and tiny amount of indian (1/32)

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          • VIP noche, Where have you been? Kepler is quite the knowledgeable on using mitochondrial DNA to trace the origins of one’s ancestors (I’m not joking) and he has previously posted on this blog that he can proudly trace his ancestors to a certain part of Africa (I think it was West Africa? Bantu?)

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          • You see…you all are just racist! :-)
            I have never said I am German. I am Caribbean Venezuelan and above all Valenciano.
            It’s all off topic, but I am an average Venezuelan mix, with influences from everywhere, I wrote about some of my genetic origins in my blog, basically to illustrate some articles on population genetics in Venezuela and they include sub-Saharan Africa. Some of my ancestors arrived in Venezuela just in the XIX century (Europe), some in the XVI century, some were there when we had Chigüires the size of a hippopotamus (so, native American)..and some were black slaves.
            I am sure Pipo has also European influences and native American…that is the case for virtually every Venezuelan whose ancestors – at least some – were in the Land of Grace for over 150 years.

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            • How does the old saying go? En Venezuela, el que no tiró flecha, tocó tambor. For the non-spanish speakers of this blog: In Venezuela, if your ancestors did not throw arrows, they beat drums – most likely both!
              Kepler, Yes, you are correct about my ancestry. In all seriousness, you had once said that you were going to post something regarding research that indicates the percentage of Venezuelans who have African ancestry (30%?). Have you posted this? If so, can I have a link?

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            • Ok, Mr. Kepler, regardless if you are green I still admire you from afar.( By the way”Happy Mother’s Day”:) That being said- I don’t agree with your statements about the Somali pirates.
              “The ones doing most of the plundering in Somalia are fisheries of EU and Chinese origin, the pirates are a consequence rather.
              The piracy in Somalia actually started only after those foreigners…”
              I don’t think that is cause and effect…and doesn’t make it right.

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            • Metodex,
              Tienes que bajarte de la mula. You can take a look at the Genographic project (if it is still active) or go for one of the commercial companies doing genetic tests. I did it through Genographic (National Geographic) and then with another company for deeper tests. That latter part is useful if you see you have interesting close matches. Mind: Y and mtDNA tests are only about one line (of course, you can get your dad tested for maternal-paternal line and so on), but they tend to be more reliable. I think they are more interesting for Venezuelans than for some other people (like Scandinavians) because you can really get any haplogroup on any side (although the most usual is one of European type on the paternal side, even if it is Aristóbulo Istúriz or Andrés Velázquez and native American on the maternal side)
              I later on did some cross-referencing with the Spanish census and – believe it or not – the CNE records and history (as one of my surnames is rather specific) and I got some puzzle solved.

              Pipo,
              In my blog you can click on the label “genetic”. There are some posts there. I am planning to post on some new findings, but I will do that in June.
              Sorry for the OT.

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  4. It’s always amazed me how criminals evolve and basically form organic networks to take advantage of prevailing conditions. Water+fishermen=people preying on fishermen. I mean, how much can they possibly get off some guy fishing a polluted lake? Enough to make prowling the waves all day worthwhile? In the absence of effective government you get this Hobbesian free-for-all where no matter how little someone makes after slaving away all day there’s always some other guy willing to kill him over it.

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  5. I don’t see any reason why this should surprise anyone. The streets are full of pirates, except we call those “pandillas” or “ladrones” (or in many cases, “policia”). Whatever you call them, they all take advantage of the common un-armed citizen and the general lack of security and law enforcement.

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  6. Yes, yes, these pirates must all be cartoonish psychos.

    It couldn’t possibly be that our economic system has inherent black holes which quickly turn hungry children into hitmen.

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  7. Como si fuera poco tener a dos zulianosfobicos en este blog, ahora menten a otro. Gente, existen otras formas de bloguear sin tener que ridiculizar a todo un gentilicio.

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    • Sorry, Anónimo, it’s all in good fun. Standard protocol dictates that the correct response to the Zulianophobia here is to hit back in the same fashion. On my trip to Maracaibo last February I was AMAZED how aggressively anti-Caraqueño just about every maracucho was. It was great fun, those guys do NOT hold back.

      (p.s., I admit I added some of the anti-Maracucho stuff in the edit, just for spice. For the record, Juan IS Maracucho, and Gustavo went to university there: I know for a fact they both love the place. Jamás entenderé el por qué, pero sí vale les encanta…)

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      • The only thing I don’t like over there is the heat. The rest is good or great.

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    • Amigo, te lo puedo decir de corazon. No soy ni sere zulianofobico. Tengo familiares y amigos en el Zulia. Vivi t estudie alli 5 años y puedo decir que los zulianos son gente buena, trabajadora y amable. No me arrepiento de mi tiempo que estuve alla.

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  8. Completely off topic: A message from the criminals at La Planta,making demands and stuff,blaming Iris Varela. Note the amount of people in the background

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  9. Spent lots of time on that lake….plenty of boating mishaps but never like this. Growing up, the stories where of famous pirates pillaging Maracaibo.

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  10. saw unofficial record tarpon caught in the lake in ’82…it was one big fish. The lake and gulf produced record tarpon and lots of shrimp but overfishing and pollution destroyed that long ago

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  11. The only place I’ve actually witnessed a guy shot (saw the bullet hole) was on the south end of Lake Maracaibo back around 2003 or 2004. His partner did the most amazing maneuver I’ve seen a skiff do; when pulling into the dock, a full speed 180 turn, engine taps the dock, and the guy runs full speed to fetch a taxi even before the boat is stopped. Meanwhile my wife and I (and other tourists) waiting to head out the camp and see the Caratumbo lights, keep looking at this boat and see what up, then notice a guy in the fetal position in the bottom of the boat. A beater Malibu (or equivalent) shows up moments later and they pull the guy from the boat, his shorts and pulled up T-shirt bloody. There is a bullet hole in the guy’s abdomen about where his liver would be. They load him into the car and it speeds off. Apparently pirates were trying to steal their outboard motor.

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