J.G. Martinez D
Our state has failed in many ways. There is no security, there is no a food production system, and the economy collapsed a long time ago. Under these conditions, anyone with the smallest bit of power will do everything they can to keep their life quality. Stealing medicines in the shipments in Customs, openly stealing from law-abiding citizens, taking their cellphones, or anything that could be exchanged for some food, alcohol, or other stuff. This is the current situation here, and I am not sweetening anything.
Some professional athletes come from poor barrios, like El Gato Galarraga, great Omar Vizquel, basketball player Gabriel Estaba, and many from other countries, too. The athletes leave it all behind, but often, their elders refuse to leave their house, friends, and the lifestyle they have enjoyed, They don’t want to move to some other place and leave everything and everyone behind. It makes sense – it’s the place they have called home an entire life. This being said, we have to mention that most of the policemen, military, and other organizations come as well from humble neighborhoods.
You may have heard that recently in Venezuela, the mother of Pittsburg Pirate’s baseball player Elías Díaz, was kidnapped.
This old lady was forced to get into an SUV by four armed men, in broad daylight, at 9 AM. I mean, FOUR trained grown-up men to kidnap a granny, is that not a little bit of overkill?
Criminals are getting increasingly organized and disciplined
I have noticed that criminals are getting increasingly organized and disciplined. They roam in numbers. They are packs. They surround their prey. Some of them will get close to engage with their victim while another one is hidden nearby. Any suspicious move, and our hero is history. The lone attacker hardly exists any longer.
Even the street robbers now use a team: two on each motorcycle. They choose their victim, usually a shiny, luxury Japanese SUV, and chase it. The guy in the backseat is packing heat, and the driver usually has a backup. Their modus operandi is increasingly going blitzkrieg style: they move fast, and they take no cowpie from anyone. They are not afraid to shoot an unarmed person because the chance of getting away unharmed and unpunished is about 90%.
In a devastated economy, they know some people earns lots of money in foreign currency. This is a gold mine for the criminal organizations. So for the professional athletes, these guys’ faces are all over the international TV´s sport channels. This is enough motivation for some greedy, dirty personnel to decide to go grandmother´s hunting, as sad as it sounds. And let´s be honest, people have commited crimes for much less than these morons expected to get out of Elias’s pockets. The guy is famous.
This has been like this for quite some time; but the trend, with the rip of the social fabric, has just spiked up. This old lady used to sit in front of her house, to chat with her friends and neighbors, in the fresh breeze of the first hours of the evening. An easy target for someone with training, don’t you think?
And that’s the scariest part about this crime…
We have talked before about how it is predictable that cops WILL go rogue when the SHTF.
And that is what is so scary about Elias’s mom’s kidnapping. These guys were policemen. With a gun and a license provided by the State to protect grannies, kids, moms, and dads. There were four of them, and two civillians.
Once the lady was sitting on her front porch, the neighbor, who obviously was being paid to watch her, called the officers’ team. There were 3 other thugs involved, and it is believed that they were the team that looked after the granny in the abandoned house she was kept in.
They kept the old lady in a far away abandoned country cottage. She had just an electric fan and a mattress. No clean clothing, no nightdress for sleeping comfort. Two meals a day for a lady over 70 years old. The morality and respect for elders of this gang just went down the toilet.
Before the granny was rescued, 5 officers of the “Bolivarian” police of the Zulia state were under detention, along with the neighbor. These rogue officers have been given a choice: the wall, or the rope.
It is important to understand this: we have a separated task force, a scientific police, just like your CSI. It is called the CICPC, and they are professionals who are highly trained overseas (in the USA and Europe). In many cases, they are trustworthy and straight officers. Rebel pilot Oscar Perez, illegally killed by armed militias last January because of rebellion against the state, was a member of this task force. This force is much better trained and equipped than the State Police, and they have, among all the institutions, the best reputation, particularly after a group them took over a NGs post, took their weapons but respected their lives and integrity. They did not even shoot one single bullet and took 15 NGs prisoners. The State Police and the NG are two of the dirtiest organizations in the entire country.
A few lessons from this event
As awful as this is, there are a few things you can learn from the situation.
- First lesson: Don’t allow anyone to discover your real financial status. Go grey.
- Second lesson: Don’t get used to routines. Do you have bowling nights on Thursday? Go on another night, for example.
- Third lesson: Give your loved ones some means to be tracked. A small GPS locator device with a $10 prepaid chip inside Granny’s bra would have saved a lot of suffering and grey hair for poor Elias and his mom. And money, because that rescue perhaps needed some oil to get some nuts loose first, trust me.
- Fourth lesson: Just because they are police officers doesn’t mean they are trustworthy.
It is not something that can only happen in Venezuela. I hope that some readers have some tours in Middle East and can bear witness that this is something that happens in other countries too, and not just to grannies, but to other innocent and defenseless members of the families. In 2011 the baseball player Wilson Ramos (Washington Nationals) was kidnapped too.
Why do these kinds of things happen?
The government forbids access to foreign currency, destroyed our own currency and destroyed our economy. There are a lot of bad guys out there willing to do whatever they think is safe for them to get their paws in someone else’s pocket.
The crime correctional system has become communist re-education camps. They will sing the national anthem first thing in the morning, will be forced to adore Hugo’s posters and to yell phrasing until their minds split open, and once broken they will become members of the “revolution”. I just saw this past week some videos from inside one of such jails. Shaved heads and yellow uniforms, all lined up in a patio jail. Freaking scary, if you ask me.
I have been thinking about this stuff a lot (as I am not a criminal and I can’t explain to myself how they think to be able to behave like that). The simplest answer I see for this is that they commit crimes because they can. Because they won’t be punished, and they know the odds are in their favor. This seems to be the main reason.
Once the system is broken, it’s only a matter of time
Once the system gets broken the entire functionality is lost. Humans are humans, no matter where you are. There is a lot of thugs that are tied only by very thin ropes of fear. Once the system gets those ties loose in some way…then you have a problem, as a citizen. A very big one.
There are thugs kidnapping small children under 10 years old at gunpoint from some private, expensive schools in our hometown. These are not some ambassador’s kids, they are kids belonging to what once was normal people with a bit more wealth than the common citizen. I know, things like this have happened in some other countries with some degree of frequency. I know this is seen in Argentina as well. On an alarming note, we can mention the player Javier Betancourt was shot in an arm last November (2017), in a gunpoint assault.
In this country, there have been many instances where some dirty officers have been the main characters, planners, and executors of Hollywood style robberies. In the 90s a small airplane carrying a gold batch was shot with UZIs by two guys in motorcycles who intercepted the plane in the airport fieldstrip. These were former special operations policemen. The pilot and copilot were killed.
There are a lot of bad things to expect if the major infrastructure of the state crumbles and falls apart. I know it. I have seen it, and going grey perhaps has saved my backside a couple of times. I used to ride a nice, shiny classic motorcycle, and after a while I started to use my bicycle. It is not exactly much safer; but for taking my son to school it was indeed better. In this peak traffic time, minutes before I arrived at the school in a busy crossroads, two gangsters took some poor guy’s motorcycle at gunpoint. The school guard told me to use other vehicle or walk to pick up my kid, and not to use the motorcycle for a few days.
So I became unpredictable when I was riding the big bike. Sometimes I would speed down an avenue to go for gas in a far away gas station, and would make an entirely unexpected U-turn to speed and come back home using some roads with less traffic. These are the kinds of things that prevent you being from being targeted.
Some officers are good, but many are not.
I know some officers still keep their integrity. I would be unfair without acknowledging this to them. But in our instance the crisis has been way too deep, has lasted way too long already, and this behavior is what would be normal when everything starts to be scarce. For many people, officers, NGs or not, the only way left to make a living is asking for assistance, stealing in the open, or renting their handguns (yes, this happens here, very very often). These officers are even involved even with drug dealing, according to some reports.
They will make whatever is needed, and they won´t be punished. People won´t file a “claim” nor will they use some other civillian right, because this is no longer possible.
It is sad, but this is the status quo now.
My country is a wonderful place, with some of the most remarkable people, now spread in 10 countries. Those who had to stay have become stuck in a harsh situation because of the misbehavior of a criminal mafia that calls itself a government.
We are peaceful people. We have had really bad times, and most of the citizens are not gun friendly. Or they were not, perhaps that is going to change now.
Nothing is permanent, and I am sure we will go through the other side much wiser and much stronger.