Ever since Manuel Rosales fucked off to Peru, falsely claiming he was being "persecuted", the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has been effectively without a mayor. But even when Burusas was still in the city, he was apparently either grossly incompetent or flat-out criminal, if this story is any indication:
"Commando-type men arrived, armed to the teeth, and shoved us against the wall. They told us that if they saw us talking on the corner again, they would fuck us."
So says Francisco (name altered to protect the privacy of the 17-year-old), who was threatened with death along with six other young people by a suspected "death squad" in the Lomitas del Zulia sector of the Francisco Eugenio Bustamante parish, population 93,967, on April 24 at 8:00 pm.
A total of 11 sectors are alarmed at the presence of a violent group that is trying to take the law into its own hands.
Francisco says that days before the men came to the neighborhood, the residents of Calle 60B-1 in Lomitas del Zulia were shocked to find a leaflet stuck in the doors of their houses, warning of a "social cleansing" due to the rise in juvenile delinquency in Maracaibo.
Panic took hold in the zone as people recalled the threats of the "death pamphlets" which circulated in the city and other muncipalities over the last two months.
Francisco recalls that the six armed men got out of a grey Ford Fiesta Power and corralled him when he was conversing with a group of other boys. "One of them wanted to leave on his bicycle, but they pointed a pistol at him and frisked him to see if he was armed."
A neighbor intervened, and assured that the boys were all right and asked that they be left alone. "Then they went away. But if we see them again in the street, we won't respond," said one of the boys, in a hoarse voice.
From then on, the residents changed their routine. They live in fear of the men who threatened them with death.
The same thing happened a week before, in the Libertador neighborhood of the same parish, when several hooded men shouted at passersby that they would kill "delinquents and drug traffickers", according to Adolfo Jacobo, a Maracaibo taxi driver.
"20 days ago, a friend showed me a flyer that some guys were throwing around in the streets, saying they would kill criminals, never mind if it took the lives of any innocent people," said a resident of Avenida 95 in the same neighborhood, who declined to be identified. He added that as of that moment, the neighbors all locked themselves indoors after 7:00 pm, for fear of "being caught in a shooting."
"We are worried about the lack of (police) patrols. Now we can't even stand in front of our houses because of the insecurity and the threatening pamphlets," said Eduardo Rincón, an electrician from Lomitas del Zulia in eastern Maracaibo.
His version coincides with that of Commissioner Jotny Márquez, chief of the CICPC-Maracaibo, who questions the crime-prevention work of the regional police because crime rates have risen.
In the José Antonio Páez neighborhood, near Lomitas del Zulia, people are also alarmed by the appearance of the pamphlets.
Aura Medina, a 47-year-old housewife, said that after the leaflets were distributed, several suspicious cars were seen passing through the neighborhood during the night. "We're afraid that they will do what they did to those young guys, and take people from their houses and kill them," said Medina, referring to a case of some young people who were taken from the La Chinita neighborhood, in the southern part of the city, last April 18.
Families of the victims have joined the CICPC and the Ombudsman's office in calling for justice for their loved ones. "Right now, we know that they called several municipal police officers to testify who were involved, and we hope they will clarify what happened," said Aída Rodríguez, mother of Jender Soto, who was killed by gunfire.
A spokesman for the CICPC informed that five members of the Maracaibo police were called to give statements about the occurrences. However, a tribunal source denied, for the time being, that the officials were directly involved in the murders.
The pamphlets found in Maracaibo were of the same content as those which circulated in Colombia in 2008.
It seems pretty clear what's going on. Colombian paramilitaries have been a problem in western Venezuela for years, because that region borders on Colombia. And right-wing politicians, too, have been western Venezuela's bane for the same amount of time. It seems only logical to suspect that the two are somehow connected; the paras "provide security" to the rich, corrupt right-wingers, and do so by menacing the poor. They also seem to have had some collaborators among the Maracaibo police, and this even when Giancarlo Di Martino, a member of the PSUV (Chavecito's party) was mayor of Maracaibo and trying to get a handle on the situation. Do the PoliMaracaibo respect no authority unless it's that of a fascist enabler? Sure smells that way.
It doesn't hurt, either, to recall that Colombian paramilitaries have been found to be involved in several failed coup plots against Chavecito--always hired at the behest of those same right-wing political figures who pose as heads of "civil society" and NGOs, and who are constantly screeching about political persecution when the law starts catching up to them.
So, when will the Dissociated Press, the Old Grey Whore and the WaHoPo write about the truly persecuted in Venezuela--the residents of neighborhoods terrorized by these right-wing commandos, operating illegally at the behest of poor, persecuted Manuel Rosales? Don't hold your breath, kiddies, they're still busy painting Chavecito as the villain on whose shoulders all of this somehow must fall.