In a carefully plotted week of repression and suppression of dissent, Hugo Chavez completed his pre-Easter sweep of the opposition when after the overdue sentencing of the heads of the Metropolitan Police during the stormy days of April, 2002 events took pace and they were found guilty and condemned to 30 years in jail.
It was certainly a day for infamy, as the Simonovich, Forero and Vivas were found guilty and in a clear message to all Venezuelans were given a 30 year sentence, the maximum possible, despite the fact that the Prosecution could not connect the men charged with the terrible deaths that day. In his closing statement, the Prosecutor revealed the perversity of the whole thing as he stated: “None of the weapons carried by the accused fired the bullets that injured the people..” Evidence was so scant that it took five years for them to be able to orchestrate a trial.
Despite this and the flimsy evidence, the whole process was manipulated for years and was resolved this week as part of the orders by Hugo Chavez to deal with the opposition this week while he was away and as Venezuelans got ready to take next week off as part of Easter week. His underlings obeyed, as his biggest political contender of the last ten years, Manuel Rosales was persecuted even in the absence of an arrest order, his former buddy and current enemy Raul Baduel was jailed today and the April 11th. 2002 deaths were pinned on the metropolitan policemen in charge of protecting the peaceful march that was first shot at that fateful day.
The almost five years of their trial, full of violations of the most elementary principles of Venezuela’s laws, contrast with the trial of the pro-Chavez supporters caught on camera shooting at the march. These men were given a quick trial and despite the much stronger evidence against them, were quickly found innocent, tried and allowed to go free. Their picture that day:
was much stronger than any of the evidence against the men sentenced today.
But this process was not about justice, but about establishing who rules Venezuela at will and decides what the law should or not do.
And the whole charade was carefully orchestrated to isolate and distance Chavez from it in his characteristics cowardly way. While he was in the Middle East traveling and supporting murderers, his orders were carried out with an efficiency reserved only for the repressive acts of his Government, but never for anything constructive.
And there seemed to be many messages for both Chavez’ buddies as well as his enemies: If you are against me, don’t try to lead the opposition and if you are with me, never dare turn on me or you will never see the light of day. Justice is no longer a valid word in Venezuela, the Hugo Chavez Government has no scruples and no intention of talking or reaching a truce with the opposition, let alone a meaningful dialogue with those that are against him. He is the President of the 5o-plus per cent that votes for him, the rest are men without a country, enemies of the State, oligrachs that want to oppose the only political project in Venezuela: The perpetuation of Hugo Chavez in power.
And it is indeed a sad day, as people are shocked at what many expected to happen. Anyone that thought there would be leniency did not follow the trials of Uson or General Rodriguez or the persecution of General Gonzalez Gonzalez, all institutional men that worked with Chavez, but when they had had enough, either left or confronted the Dictator, were in turn confronted with the full force his power and the police and military forces he controls.
And by the time most Venezuelans come back home from their Easter vacation ready to fight, Chavez will change topics and initiate a different war somewhere else. And like the Teflon Dictator he is, nothing will stick to him among his supporters, that adoring quasi-religious crowd that despite their hardships, continue to believe the lies and excuses of our devious and incompetent President.
And Venezuelans will be left to wonder who will be next and how will the next confrontation develop. And those that think that violence and death will not be part of our future have short memories. Hugo Chavez and his peons have no morals, no scruples and no limits to what they will do to preserve his power and protect their newly found wealth.
It was a day that will be remembered in Venezuelan history if what is to come does not completely overshadow the indecency and immorality of this week’s events.
A very sad day, even if expected, when justice became an empty word in Venezuela and fear was driven into the minds of all Venezuelans who believe in rights and freedom. But a day that we will see repeated in the future, as we have allowed Hugo Chavez and his cronies to steal and rape our country, appointing him as the only ruler of the new oligarchy, which in the end appears to be the only force capable of removing him in the future.