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Abu Ghraib In Caracas

By Tomas Sancio | Venezuelan Politics

23.11.05 | There are some things that one does not talk in order for them to disappear, as if ignoring them would make them vanish. We can think nice thoughts and pretend that politics is about counting votes and attending the needs of the voters. Once in a while, the news takes us back to reality, harsh as it is. This article tells the story about a man that was tortured by Venezuelan police, just like in other countries that the World condemns. There are at least three ways to react to his story: calling him a liar, admitting his story but saying that it will never happen to you or admitting his story and worrying.

They raised my hood up to my nose, they put a plastic bag on my head and one of them would kick me by the front. I would exhale and I would suck the bag. Then they would stand me up and hit me until I would fall. They had taken off my shoes and when I was on the floor, they would hit me with a bat or an oar, or something like it, on my feet.

To call him a liar is easy. To call him a liar and convince yourself is much harder. How do you know where he was that day? As a Venezuelan, raise your hand if you've never been mistreated/harassed by the police. Haven't you ever heard personal accounts of life in a Venezuelan jail? A friend of Valencia once explained to me how you can make an "feces-dagger". Hence, if you believe that the essence of this man's story is unreal, I'm happy for you. Ignorance is bliss.

Your other option is to think that it will never happen to you. Statistically speaking, this will never happen to a great majority of Venezuelans, only those who oppose the government that affects the great majority of Venezuelans. Ironic, isn't it? I will not mess with the government to improve my way of life and will rely on others to do so. Then, when others actually get killed or injured when opposing the government (yes, people even get killed when "defending" the government), I will say that "it's there fault" for sticking their heads out. A vicious circle, one might say.

The last option is to worry and try to do something about it. The hard part is figuring out what that "something" means. Yesterday, I drove by a relatively small but theatrical march of ladies in the freeway. There were not too many of them, but they were trying to convey a message about the lack of justice in this government. I used to think that these marches were useless. They're not. These people are doing something instead of staying at home trying to find alternate explanations to the current situation. Even the Primero Justicia march (in spite of its "Ghostbusters" theme), is valid.

All of the previously mentioned is nice to know but doesn't advance the state of the country until those who denounce government torture gain the credibility to garner the attention of the government supporters. There are a lot of them among those people that either believe that torture doesn't exist or just think that it won't happen to them. How do you earn their ear? You can either do some research or ask them personally. The latter is often more accurate.

P.S. Oh, and don't forget to vote. That's "doing something".

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