Well, that only could happen in “Julia’ Father – Disneyland” because I have never heard of a dictator admitting that he is what he is. They always call themselves democrats, claim to be doing all things legal and right or protecting us from some upcoming invasion that never actually comes or at the most, they claim to be “the voice of the people”. They never use the word d-i-c-t-a-t-o-r and Chavez won’t be an exception of this widely known general rule. But the thing is that we once wished to see those leaders speaking from the bottom of their hearts, without any hypocrisy or façade, without any attempt to make things look better or different than how they are for real.
We thought that fighting against something that acted exactly the way it look like would be easier, because no one could be confused about the nature and the real intentions of the regime and therefore, more support and strength could be earned.
And then, a few days ago, Luisa Ortega Diaz did, for the second time (first time she propposed a controversial law for media regulation that is not the topic of this entry), just exactly what we used to wish for. Without masks, without pretty words, without any tool of any kind that could be used to hide her intentions, she simply spoke out. She said what probably the most convinced people inside the lines of Chavismo were wishing to speak out, and she counted with the power and strength to do it: she said that opposition protesters of any kind could be prosecuted and sentenced to 10 up to 12 years in jail because what they (we) are doing could match perfectly with the rather ambiguous crime of civil rebellion.
On Saturday, a demonstration was planned to protest against the new education law that I briefly talked about on the last entry. And Luisa ordered an investigation without any basis, just because. Just because she thinks that we don’t any right to protest against that law. And as usually happens, when someone starts an “investigation” when the sentences has already been decided, “crimes” were found, and people guilty of them were also found. This time, Caracas prefect’ was the victim, and in front of all of us, an order of detention that no one can understand where it come from, went against him without warning. He’s now waiting for a trial (if I'm not mistaken) in La Planta, a horrible prison located in Caracas that is used for common delinquents. For no one is secret that inside that prison his life its in a serious risk.
Eleven workers of the Caracas Municipality (called “Alcaldía Metropolitana) that belongs to the opposition are facing the exact same destiny. They were protesting against a new law that could put their jobs in jeopardy and the police started throwing tear gas at them and in the middle of the confusion, all that we have now is those eleven workers that without much explanations and under charges such as “alteration of the public order” they are now also behind the bars of La Planta, with Caracas prefect' Richard Blanco.
Ortega’ controversial declaration has opened Venezuela and the worlds’ eyes to a tendency that is going between us for a very long time: the extensive criminalization of the protest inside a country that calls itself a “participatory democracy”.
This week a very important Venezuelan pro-human rights NGO called Provea gave us a frightening report (link in Spanish): there’s 2200 people processed in the country for protesting against the government. This number includes the students detained during the protests of 2007 that even counting they were freed about two days later, they have prohibitions to leave the country and they are forced to attend the courts periodically, in one word they have criminal records just because they attended the same marches I did. The number also covers peasants and workers who have protested for a variety of reasons and have faced a similar consequence. Provea says that 2200 is a modest number because it doesn’t include many small protests into shanty towns that didn't reached the general public.
We have enough reason to believe that with a prosecutor like Luisa, this number will do nothing more but to increase.
So it is understandable that we are now more afraid of this frank, natural, honest and straight to the point speech and subsequent actions of Luisa Ortega Diaz, than we are of president Chavez itself even thro we know that Luisa is nothing more and nothing less than just another instrument of Chavez’ orchestra. The thing is that just like bloggers like this one and this one rightly said, our General Prosecutor has a huge power in her hands; the power to decide who is accused and who’s not under what charges. She is the head and holds the monopoly of our (un) justice system.
I happen to look back now to those dinners were we asked to the Revolutionaries to be more open about their intentions with some certain naïve nostalgia. We are far from considering these dangerous moves of the Revolution as something helpful for the opposition strategy. Now, we are just simply afraid of what the end of the “democracy” charade and care for the appearance of the Revolution is bringing to us.
But one thing is for certain: for the better or the worse, we are now more conscious and more aware of the criminalization of the protest in Venezuela. Since Luisa Ortega openly spoke her intentions out, the phenomenon has stopped being under surface and its finally getting all the attention (and I feel guilty about this) that it deserves.