Know fear

Because I can...

Because I can…

The lingering question as we conclude Human Rights week is – why? What are the authorities looking for? Are they looking to stoke the protests? Do they want them to tire out? Is the goal to physically disappear key protestors? Or, perhaps, to repress completely, to simply take away Venezuelans’ fundamental rights thoroughly, such as was done in Cuba?

I think all of these explanations fall short. The goal of what we have seen is to instill fear.

Whether it is by shooting people who are already in custody, driving them around the city before leaving them in detention centers (called “ruleteo,” a common practice in express kidnappings carried out by criminals), denying them access to legal counsel, releasing them on parole by forcing them to come back and sign at the courthouse, preventing detainees who are acquitted from leaving the country, or flaunting their complete impunity, the message is clear: we want you to be afraid of us.

There is a name for this: a state-led terror campaign. Someone, somewhere decided that the government’s response to protests is for the population to fear the government.

We knew this was going to happen. Way back when Chávez died, we realized that Chávez’s charisma meant that heavy-handed repression was kept under control. But Maduro isn’t Chávez, and he is much more trigger-happy as a consequence. In theory, what we have witnessed should come as no surprise.

Still, the expected can sometimes be quite shocking.

57 thoughts on “Know fear

    • Same here. People knew the risks and still decided to protests.

      That figure of 20k deaths or so on 2013 puts a very simple perspective: Rather die fighting the regime than die because a thug wanted my wallet or I couldn’t find medicines/medical gear.

      Add the lack of job prospects and well: What do we have to lose?


    • I also see much more anger. Anger at lack of public utilities, lack of essential supplies, at education policies, healthcare and anger at the military response to peaceful demonstration. Topped by supreme anger at the corruption and ineptitude of high ranking “public servants”. If its fear that they are after then it will have to go on the endless list of their failures.


      • And explode it will.

        The government has no chance of controlling the situation midterm. Sooner or later the thing will explode and God help us all.


    • It depends on the person. I know someone who was always in the front of protests, fearless, but who once witnessed such utter brutality and violence and just narrowly avoided getting severely beaten or worse by a group of colectivos who had them trapped near their university (this was back in 2007). Her friends pushed her and another girl in a janitor’s closet which they were able to lock. They could hear the shooting and beating taking place, and men were pounding on the door saying they were going to break in and beat, rape, and kill them. Fortunately, that never happened.

      She still goes to protests, but is not like she was before. She says she is almost frozen with fear when word of colectivos arrives and when the National Guard starts firing tear gas. She usually stays well in the back and leaves quickly. She is no longer fearless and has trouble sleeping when protests are coming up.


  1. I also agree.

    People are getting more angry & frustrated. While fear exists just stand in a supermarket line for 10 minutes & hear the comments from all levels of society.

    With 5+% inflation rumoured for April & much more predicted for May with the salary increase of 30% things are only going to get worse.

    One of my 20+ year business associates just closed 5 stores here in Margarita. He’s been 6 months with no inventory. Sicad2 was no help. That’s lost jobs & another valuable resource for his products lost.

    We’ve made no money in 2 years. Lots of Bs. have passed through our hands but there has been no profits. It’s really tough to set prices in a hyper inflationary market. Especially when the product or service is for future delivery – August, September & Fin de Año.

    What price can you charge now & still get the business & make a profit?


    • Very easy. If everything is indexed daily at either the Daily CPI or daily parallel rate then everything stabilizes. Very simple. Not easy to implement during hyperinflation with no co-ordination. It is, generally, what a 2% inflation target does automatically. Easy during hyperinflation when your selling prices are allowed to always follow the daily parallel rate (what we did – were allowed to do – in 1995/7 in Angola in our company – Volvo). That is how street vendors operate. Some street vendors have never been to school. Very simple – even illiterates understand it. Always follow every change in the parallel rate / Daily CPI. Governments generally find this impossible to “understand” because of vested / corrupt interests in the status quo and complete lack of courage / common sense / true patriotism.


      • You charge now a price that is contractually / generally agreed to be indexed daily to either the daily parallel rate or Daily CPI. The same goes for trade debtors and trade creditors and even money loans. What Brazil did for 30 years from 1964 to 1994. Very simple actually. Well known in Latin America.


        • After 15 months of me watching (sometimes illiterate) street vendors daily updating their prices in terms of the daily (every) change in the parallel rate, we started doing it in our company. We instantly turned our monthly real losses to continued real – daily updated – profits. Very simple.


        • Daily Indexing in terms of the Daily CPI or daily parallel rate is also price control: in real value which results in a stable economy. That is what the government wants. However, the government’s actual price controls in nominal values result in a steep decrease in real prices, i.e., continued distortions perpetuating economic instability. You are all well-experienced in that and it seems (the parallel rate indicates) it is accelerating.


          • N Smith, what I meant was, the Venezuelan government may slam someone for carrying out Daily CPI, either with current price control laws, or decreeing a new one that gets applied retroactively.


            • Yes, I understand. Thank you. That is the problem. Daily indexing will not come about via any institutional means – either governmental or from the IASB or FASB. I am working on an app (very, very early stage) that will implement a specific part of it – not the actual indexing in the accounts (that is too ambitious now). I hope to give it away free (for the first year and then a nominal cost – a type of freemium) in Argentina where companies would find it very useful (high inflation in big economy) – and Venezuela and other high inflation economies – SA, India, etc. I will need to have it translated into Spanish. If I do not get any funding for my startup, I may ask you for help. The user interfaces are very small. It would basically just be a free download. I don´t think google translate will suffice :-) The rest would happen automatically forever. That is what the app is about.


    • N Smith obviously does not live in the real world of competition, especially here in Venezuela.

      We would love to keep raising our prices based on some formula however in the real world that would put us completely out of business.

      We have competitors. We are in the tourism business.

      In his world he can just keep raising the price of his product or service and people will keep paying.
      That’s fine if you have an essential product & no competition.

      My prices are somewhat controlled by my competition even though we tend to be slightly ahead of them.
      We also have to be really careful about what the price is if the nazis arrive to review our “precio justo” .
      It’s a very fine line between surviving & staying legal. They won’t let you set a price based on your estimate of future inflation. Remember they live in Wonderland.

      We have taken to raising our prices based on the published inflation increase each month. The problem with that is that it only keeps us treading water & the government figures are in the most part a fantasy. Real world numbers are higher due to the shortages. Example an A/C that cost Bs.3.800 18 months ago is now Bs.30.000+ if you can find one. That’s no where near published inflation figures.
      Also how can I set a price for the end of the year?
      It’s just a guessing game.
      Also the customers need to commit now for a price set 6 months away & pay now with salaries based on today, not 6 months from now.

      Come to Venezuela Mr. Smith.


      • Smith is a troll. He keeps repeating that bloody mantra in Miguel’s blog and here. It’s such a bore!
        Don’t feed him.


  2. Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.


    • Which is to say, the fear isn’t mostly for the oppos. It’s for the base. The fear the government needs is fear from the colectivos of 23 Enero. I would bet about 2-1 that the colectivo leader who was killed on 12F was trying to mount a mutiny.


      • The death of regime follower Juancho by a goons bullet is an unresolved ministry , was he just unlucky in being accidentally struck by a stray bullet ?? of was he infiltrating the protesters and got caught by a bullet that was intended to hit a protester ? in the latter case is that evidence that regime sympathyzers infiltrate the oppos protests to engage in violence and make the protest appear violent ?? If so that would mean that the regime instigates oppo violence in order to demonize oppo protests and justify their repression of all forms of protests .

        I think regime followers viscerally like engaging in violence because violence it the eponimous expression of raw force and power which they idolize , which use makes them feel omnipotent and manly , they have the ethos of the bully and the gangster and resort to cultivating their sectarian passions to feel self proud righteous about their violence and thus inflame their overgrown egos !!

        The political bully or fascist enjoys being the agent of other peoples fear , being fearful is to them what makes them deserving of respect , so they enjoy terrorizing people through the use of wantom virulent violence .

        The other take is that by instigating oppos angry response they increase the rift between the MUD appeasers who are willing to sit with the regime to discuss things and those who view any potential compromise as a betrayal of principle . The street protests were winding down a bit and suddenly they took action to rile them up again by attacking the camps , that could also be a motive. !!


        • bill, he was too old to be infiltrating students. He was the big man. He was on their rapid response team.


        • This is probably not relevant to Juancho’s death but those alleyways where they died where dangerous. They where narrow and confined and when bullets start flying they can travel along the walls so the last thing you want to do is run along the walls or lean against the walls. I saw the video of the student getting killed when he tried crossing the corner. Don’t know how Juancho got it but it did seem the situation was not under control and the shooting was uncoordinated.


      • disagree… he was called to the scene and died in the crossfire. His brother was not happy and still is not happy but it is what it is.


  3. Fear? What fear? A couple of days ago some local collectivo members torched the Fermin Toro University in Barquisimeto. The students sent one of their most ruthless brigade to the rescue. By the time the ordeal was over, 3 collectivo members were dead. Have you seen anything in the local papers? Yet the stiffs are on a slab at the local morgue, certified by local news people of the record. Attaboy, don’t mess around with the students. Fear? My *ss!


      • The woman almost knocking the guardsman on his ass is classic. It is great to see these folks standing up to the repression. What have they got to lose?


      • That is an amazing video. Does anyone else think that for the police, their hearts just weren’t in it?


        • I am sure that there are many who really do not want to have to hurt the kids.A percentage won’t care but there will plenty that do.


    • “3 collectivo members were dead. ”
      Where? What proof do you have? Why not a single link to any paper article, if like 99% NINETY NINE PERCENT OF ALL THE MEDIA IN VENEZUELA IS CONTROLLED BY CHAVISM?
      Why do you chavists complain so much against the media whey YOU are the ones hogging all of it?

      Unarmed people CAN’T kill gun armed goons.


      • Since they are the backbone of repression, it is not in the Government interest to publish that the collectivos are as mortal as anyone else.


  4. We have learned a lot about Human behavior over the years:

    1. Emotions are the most powerful motivators in most human beings.They are what rule most of our conduct.

    2. All people are ruled by dominated by cedrtain passions but not all people are equally ruled by all of the passions

    3. Fear is a very common primary ruler of many people.Dictatorships all know this instinctively.Signs of fear can show up in many ways from out right panic, y subservience ,sycophancy and cowardliness, to bluffing and over- aggressiveness…and of course the regime uses it.They control better when people are afraid and because the regime is also ruled by aggressive fear, this is what it knows best.

    4.The large majority however are more ruled by the passion of anger, even though the anger is not always consciously felt.Most people are lazy, and want to keep the status quo.They are simply too indifferent to the ambitions of progressive change to want to sacrifice for its benefit.However when the time comes where these folks feel too threatened by life changes to keep their status quo, and their comfortable lives, anger will build.When this anger builds to a boiling point, they will rise up.

    5 This is good news because anger is the only passion that can dominate fear.

    Those who would quell the anger of the masses through religious ideas, or false pride are damaging the opposition in my book, even if their intentions are good.It’s anger that will overcome fear, and set the record straight.Thought does not have this power.

    The dictatorships uses fear but becomes fearful of anger.


    • .as usual my farsightedness made typos:

      “All people are dominated by certain passions, but not all people are equally ruled by all of the passions


      • Had a relative who in the old days knew direct armed combat , he both killed people shooting at him and once was almost killed himself , he lost friends in those combats .He lived through some very threatening situations He used to say that in armed combat situations you always feel fear , that whoever claims never to have felt fear in such situations is lying , but that there comes a point , when a sudden anger fills you and you lose your fear , you get filled with an anger of the ‘who do they think they are’ type , then the response is one of angry resolution and you do brave or crazy things , After its all over you feel awe , amazement :, I survived while doing these crazy things . So yes anger is an antidote to fear but it does not entirely exclude fear., at some point it boils over and shoves fear aside and makes people act with defiant resolution despite any threat to their limb and life .

        Malcom Gladwell in his latest book recounts how at the start of WWII british authorties were fearful of the effect of the constant german bombing raids on common londoners , night after night people would see their homes destroyed , their fellows killed by the bomb atttacks ,They believed that people would live in a constant state of panic and become demoralized and depressed . Then to their surprise it didnt happen . People felt exhilerated , bravely brazened by their experience, the fear was there but it never became panic. The explanation according to the experts is what is known as the close miss effect , if you seel other people affected but you are not affected despite repeated bombing attacks you begin to feel invulnerable, you lose much of your fear because you feel that the likelihood of getting hurt or killed is not great.

        I suspect that fear can also be thrilling , fear is a close emotion to thrill and that if the odds of getting badly hurt are not all that great , the instinct for thrill spiked by a feeling of wrathful indignation can push people to participate in angry protests, specially if lots of other people join in those protests , people in a group are braver and more resolute than when they are isolated , the temper of the group communicates it self to the individual , there is in people a blind herding instinct , a subliminal feeling that there is safety in numbers that make people overcome their fear and act with resolute bravery if acting in concert with others. Thats probably a factor in what we see now , that people are becoming oblivious to fear and participate in protests despite the heavy regime repression . They also must feel incensed at the regime acting so heavy handedly and arbitrary . .


        • Yes BB,

          We all feel all of these emotions and sometimes unconsciously.I agree that people are becoming somewhat oblivious to fear , or at least they are able to go around it meaning that anger is stronger.Their anger is so great that they are somewhat blind perhaps. It has been said that when a sleeping giant moves, the whole world moves, its power is so great.The people have been containing the power of their anger for a very long time, and this is like a bomb exploding.

          But if you think about it, under some extreme circumstances this can be good.This is the human spirit crying out and demanding their human rights.

          The world has not evolved into a place, where all things can be corrected through the power of thought.

          Personally I think if most of the opposition would take to the streets ,not violently, but angrily, the regime would fall fast but there seems to be too many people who repress anger to such an extent, and who are so incredibly ruled by fear, that this scenario is not too likely yet.Someone told me that Tony Blair recommended that but many Venezuelans were upset to hear it.I didn’t actually see anything about this, but a friend of mine told me the other day.


  5. Fear? C’mon. Sean Penn says that it’s all nonsense…..

    “Penn asserted that human rights watchdogs have not accused Venezuela of offenses, as they have the United State’s regional partner Colombia.

    “The frustrations are real, but, you know, they are frustrations of an identity up against — we see it on an economic level with President Obama and the United States,” the actor continued. “How quickly we forget the devastated economy he inherited. The devastated credibility of his country he inherited.”

    Penn added that Venezuela cannot be viewed outside the prism of the “incredibly biased” American press coverage of that country’s unrest.”

    Does this guy have scrambled eggs for brains, or what?


    • Dr Faustus,

      The primary passion of Penn is hostility which includes a lot of envy and attention to his image. Competing with others for attention is one of his favorite pasatiempos.

      These people can even commit murder to get ahead in the world and make themselves famous.

      There terror is that someone will see their essential nothingness.


    • One of the most shocking things is that Charlize Theron is with that wanker.
      I thought she was more intelligent.


      • Not only that, take a quick peek at the recent photo of Penn in that story. Freaky/weird doesn’t even begin to describe him…..


    • Penn’s got a couple tens of millions of dollars that the corpse himself paid him to “make a movie”.
      The moron’s always been one of those “rich commies” who support all the left crap and those stuff, just because, and yet he lives swimming in money and loves the comforts of the western capitalist society (Same as Danny Glover, Naomi Campbell and Rage Against the Machine)

      Also, Penn’s a woman beater, the guy used to abuse Madonna when they were married long ago.


      • Ralph, please elaborate about Penn getting money for a movie. Only Glover and Oliver got money and only Glover did not deliver. Penn took donations for his Haiti foundation and he delivered. Penn wanted to make a movie in Venezuela but that went nowhere. All the actors you mentioned have this Argentine producer friends of Izarrita in common… that is the connection. Penn is about Penn. He knows what’s going on but will never admit it. I thought he would shut up by now on Venezuela but obviously not. I don’t think he’s seeking to talk about Venezuela but when asked, will have to defend his position because he’s never wrong.


    • I think it’s fried eggs for brains for him to say, literally “we are all on hard times.” If he’s on hard times I’d like to join his club!


  6. “Way back when Chávez died, we realized that Chávez’s charisma meant that heavy-handed repression was kept under control”
    April 11 wants to have a word with you.
    24 murders, most of ten straight commited by the “pistoleros de puente llaguno” who later were gloating about how they “defended the revolution” by blasting other people’s brains off their heads.
    That slaughter served to keep people from protesting for almost ten whole years, and it served to coin the perfect excuse to not to protest: “SI SALIMOS A PROTESTAR NOS VAN A MATAR.”
    Funny to see how people from the whole political spectrum in Venezuela starts to swallow the idea that “chavez was BETTER than maduro”, no, folks, maburro is as bad as the corpse was, because he’s from the same group and with the same methods and ways of thinking.


    • That’s a belief born of the desire of ex-chavistas to salvage their egos.

      And, unfortunately, I get the wisdom of not directly confronting the -purely emotional- blind worship of the wax doll. Mainly because, right now, is a complete waste of time.

      After we have an actual democracy again? Fuck them, no “TRUE heir of Chia-b” should be allowed anywere near a public office.


  7. It’s a real question, because this repression isn’t really effective. The “communications hegemony” works. But this violence is not effectively intimidating opposition; there are still demonstrations. And these actions carry a risk – that the illegal violence will delegitimize the regime, and will make enemies of people who were not oppo.

    If the chavernment really wanted to break the opposition, regardless of law, they could do so. They could murder or “disappear” oppo activists under cover of Venezuela’s crime epidemic. But they don’t. They still worry about “going too far”.

    Oderint, dum metuant works as long as people fear to act. When they fear what will happen if they don’t act, it blows back.


    • You don’t seem to understand the role that image plays in the development of 21st Century dictatorship.


      • Yep. Chavez’s 24/7 management of his image allowed him to get away with a lot of shit.

        Those are the same principles that explain cult behavious, by the way.


      • Oh, I understand it. What I don’t understand is where these chavernment tactics fit in. They don’t improve the regime’s image, and in fact damage it, though not fatally, and they don’t seem to accomplish anything that would be worth the image damage.

        Perhaps what they are doing is preparing their henchmen for more severe actions later. The Nazis developed a program of “hardening” for men assigned to the Totenkopfverbande, so they would become indifferent to the suffering of their victims.

        The chavernment may be thinking that men who become accustomed to beating up helpless people because they are “escualidos” won’t have any reluctance to kill them.


  8. I agree with all POVs expressed by J. C. in his note, most notably his closing paragraph, but I would like to share this alternative: the regime always planned to stop the protest, but the plan has been evolving all this time, most notably since 12F, as they loose the streets and the protests also evolved. I leave the chronological review to more capable opinions, but typical of its incapacity to do anything, the regime’s first stage was to use a combination of strong repression and dead squads. They miscalculated; instead of scaring people, the images of protester getting killed and beating savagely was a high price to pay: the protests became international news and increased protesters’ rage. They then tried to constrain the protests to specific sectors in major cities, splitted dead squads with the PNB and the GNB to control guarimbas following the same approach used during the general strike do 2012: to wait for the boomerang effect on the guarimbas, which worked maginally and to let people vent off in path-restricted rallies in cities. There was a problem: they never expected the role students have shown, the level of sympathy of the rest of the citizens, nor could control de abuses of the dead-squads. Instead of growing tired as the regime expected, the students movement became bolder and stronger. It is clear that now the regime is in a different phase: it is implementing a more focused repression, targeting specific protesters with legal processes and neighborhoods with “gas del bueno”, while at the same time goes after key organizations and political figures. I am afraid they will start to do the same with university leaders very soon if recent massive detentions do not work. On the other hand, I am confident people are not abandoning the streets, there is jut too much to win by staying there and too little to loose.


  9. Well, you say you see anger and fear, i say i see mockery and indifference.
    The Venezuelan people have become a truly revolutionary race,they can be pushed as far as the revolution wants them to be pushed and they will gladly accept it.

    Venezuela will not change,it will get ugly,much much uglier than it is right now, but it will not change the path.
    People don’t really love this country,they love corruption,marañas and listening to the govt’s hate speech.
    The rich love corruption,the middle class loves marañas since it fills the pockets a bit,and the poor love listening to Maduro tell them they’re a good people who just want to stand in line in peace for their food ration.

    What we’re witnessing is the last burst of humanity and common sense from our people,and they’re all going to jail,leaving the country or worse,just “working hard” to push the country forward,when we know no amount of work,talent,ethics or skill is going to make a difference in the land of lazy,ball pulling and selling your soul for money.

    I was very supportive at first but now i don’t know,everybody left the students to die,there’s fewer and fewer students protesting each day.Housewives have a reason to protest,doctors too,patients,engineers,taxi drivers,truck drivers,supermarket clerks,business owners.

    There’s a lot of people who are just living like nothings going on while inflation and scarcity takes its toll, while all the bad things just keep getting bigger.They just adapt to chaos.


  10. Could we please keep it simple and follow the money? The police forces are actually making a whole lot of money by getting paid to release the detained. I know this first hand. So what we have here is some kind of institutionalized mass kidnapping. Do they want it to end? Heck, no!


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