Inside Venezuela's scary surveilling and torturing military

For those of us on the outside, the fact that the grotesquely failing Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela has not yet toppled is fairly mystifying. Why would anyone want to stay in a military that props up a socialist pariah state that has left the women and children back home starving? Could the military be that much of a drug-dealing operation? Could it be so full of useful fools? How is it the military could stay in place when its foot soldiers are paid practically nothing? 

Sen. Marco Rubio has tweeted about an outstanding piece of journalism that brings some understanding as why Venezuela's military so far has not defected to the side of democracy as the country has.

 

 

It's from the Miami Herald and the short answer is: The Venezuelan military has a reign of terror on the inside that if anything is worse than the reign of terror on the outside. It begins:

The Venezuelan military officers, summoned to the feared headquarters of the Military Counter Intelligence Agency, found themselves in a room wondering what was looming behind the piece of cloth covering the bulletin board facing them.

Having to be there was bad enough. The agency, known by its acronym DGCIM, is notorious for holding some 200 to 300 officers and military personnel who have been sent over the years for punishment after being arrested on accusations of conspiring to depose the socialist regime headed by Nicolás Maduro. Reports of dire conditions and torture abound, the term “hell” often used to describe what it’s like to be in DGCIM custody.

So when the cloth was pulled off, what this recent group of uniformed officers saw chilled their blood.

“Pinned to the board were pictures of their wives, their parents, their children and their grandchildren,” said ex Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who got first-hand accounts of the incident. Ledezma is a key ally to Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaidó, whose challenge to Maduro’s rule is backed by the U.S. and some 50 other nations.

As the summoned military officers absorbed the images of their loved ones, DGCIM officials issued this warning, according to sources familiar with the gathering: “We know what you have been doing and we will make them disappear if you continue talking to Guaidó.”

A trip to military headquarters for an ordinary soldier can mean torture, imprisonment, and sickening retribution on a service member's innocent relatives. It sounds comparable to the old Soviet NKVD whose leaders were constantly getting shot as traitors as suspicion and paranoia took hold. Or its successor, the Soviet KGB, which literally had a chute to a burning furnace for accused traitors, though it had many means of murder. It's like the scenarios played out in the brilliant film 'The Lives of Others' describing how the inside of the East German secret police operations worked, where even a joke was considered a jailing offense. It's obviously something that goes on in Cuba. Which means it's probably no coincidence it now goes on in Venezuela, given that the Cubans are East German-trained.

It also explains very well why the military is reluctant to defect to Guaido. Defecting, without the absolute certainty of being able to get away with it, is very easily a death sentence, not just for oneself, but for one's relatives. The terror within has gotten that strong a foothold. 

How anyone could support such an evil regime from the outside is another matter. Which raises questions again as to why someone like Rep.Ilhan Omar does, and she goes on the attack whenever someone very gently calls her 'ignorant,' which after a report like this, is the best case scenario. If Omar is not a useful fool in her support for the Maduro regime, it would mean she supports this kind of human rights abuse and atmosphere of terror.

It's as scary as the hell-vision on the inside of the Venezuelan military that 'supports' Maduro with a chain around its neck. 

 

Image credit: Twitter screen grab

  

For those of us on the outside, the fact that the grotesquely failing Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela has not yet toppled is fairly mystifying. Why would anyone want to stay in a military that props up a socialist pariah state that has left the women and children back home starving? Could the military be that much of a drug-dealing operation? Could it be so full of useful fools? How is it the military could stay in place when its foot soldiers are paid practically nothing? 

Sen. Marco Rubio has tweeted about an outstanding piece of journalism that brings some understanding as why Venezuela's military so far has not defected to the side of democracy as the country has.

 

 

It's from the Miami Herald and the short answer is: The Venezuelan military has a reign of terror on the inside that if anything is worse than the reign of terror on the outside. It begins:

The Venezuelan military officers, summoned to the feared headquarters of the Military Counter Intelligence Agency, found themselves in a room wondering what was looming behind the piece of cloth covering the bulletin board facing them.

Having to be there was bad enough. The agency, known by its acronym DGCIM, is notorious for holding some 200 to 300 officers and military personnel who have been sent over the years for punishment after being arrested on accusations of conspiring to depose the socialist regime headed by Nicolás Maduro. Reports of dire conditions and torture abound, the term “hell” often used to describe what it’s like to be in DGCIM custody.

So when the cloth was pulled off, what this recent group of uniformed officers saw chilled their blood.

“Pinned to the board were pictures of their wives, their parents, their children and their grandchildren,” said ex Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who got first-hand accounts of the incident. Ledezma is a key ally to Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaidó, whose challenge to Maduro’s rule is backed by the U.S. and some 50 other nations.

As the summoned military officers absorbed the images of their loved ones, DGCIM officials issued this warning, according to sources familiar with the gathering: “We know what you have been doing and we will make them disappear if you continue talking to Guaidó.”

A trip to military headquarters for an ordinary soldier can mean torture, imprisonment, and sickening retribution on a service member's innocent relatives. It sounds comparable to the old Soviet NKVD whose leaders were constantly getting shot as traitors as suspicion and paranoia took hold. Or its successor, the Soviet KGB, which literally had a chute to a burning furnace for accused traitors, though it had many means of murder. It's like the scenarios played out in the brilliant film 'The Lives of Others' describing how the inside of the East German secret police operations worked, where even a joke was considered a jailing offense. It's obviously something that goes on in Cuba. Which means it's probably no coincidence it now goes on in Venezuela, given that the Cubans are East German-trained.

It also explains very well why the military is reluctant to defect to Guaido. Defecting, without the absolute certainty of being able to get away with it, is very easily a death sentence, not just for oneself, but for one's relatives. The terror within has gotten that strong a foothold. 

How anyone could support such an evil regime from the outside is another matter. Which raises questions again as to why someone like Rep.Ilhan Omar does, and she goes on the attack whenever someone very gently calls her 'ignorant,' which after a report like this, is the best case scenario. If Omar is not a useful fool in her support for the Maduro regime, it would mean she supports this kind of human rights abuse and atmosphere of terror.

It's as scary as the hell-vision on the inside of the Venezuelan military that 'supports' Maduro with a chain around its neck. 

 

Image credit: Twitter screen grab