Chronicle of the Venezuelan people who were kidnapped by drug trafficking (PART 1)
In 1999, Hugo Chavez won as Venezuela's leader promising mostly social programs. Socialism was to be their country's answer to poverty and inequity. Under Chávez, Venezuela experienced democratic backsliding, as he suppressed the press, manipulated electoral laws, and arrested and exiled government critics. His use of enabling acts and his government's use of propaganda were controversial. So as his nation's people lost more and more of their Freedoms, according to Deputy Lozano at a meeting of South American parliamentarians: “Venezuela’s main export product was no longer oil, today we export refugees”.
What was the reason for the huge exodus of its citizens?
In her speech, Deputy Lozano was emphatic in stating that unfortunately, unlike other countries in the region, she could not show positive indices, as Venezuela is a country in which an oppressive regime has dismantled 90% of the industrial park; where Venezuela is among the 25 most food insecure countries, according to the FAO; and where only 3.86% of the population has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Here are some stats of the results of Socialism:
7.8 million malnourished people.
96% of the Venezuelan population is living in poverty.
79% is in extreme poverty.
Accumulated inflation this year stands at 415.7%.
Deputy Guanipa revealed that 8 out of 10 older adults are in poverty: “We do not deserve this”.
Despite, such a miserable state of life brought on by Socialism , things can get much worse... You could live in a city run by the cartel.....
By Maibort Petit
For two years I insisted to one of the men from Casigua El Cubo, to allow me to accompany him on his trip. He usually comes to the United States once a year, and every time we see each other, he tells me incredible stories that occur in that geographic space located between Colombia and Venezuela. In mid 2016, I told him that I was ready to travel, but he refused while warning me that the area was too dangerous, and that it did not guarantee entry or return.
After a discussion, it occurred to us that my visit would be made through an iPad, and thanks to satellite technology I was able to talk with the residents of Casigua El Cubo in real time, via facetime. With the device in his hands, José showed me each place in the town where he was born. It was three days of work. We recorded 20 hours of video to obtain the information that we will present in this chronicle that aims to explain, through the voices of the protagonists, how Casigua El Cubo was kidnapped by drug trafficking and the Colombian guerrillas.
A good part of the streets are full of sand. An infernal heat welcomes the inhabitants from early in the morning. Casigua has an area of about 5,845 square kilometers where about 23 thousand inhabitants live. It is a picturesque town, where people experience a metamorphosis every day, which, unlike Franz Kafka's, has turned their souls upside down.
Located south of Lake Maracaibo, Casigua El Cubo is the capital of the Jesús María Semprún Municipality, on the banks of the Tarra River. When you walk through its dusty streets you can appreciate the ridiculous differences that coexist in that earthly place that, at times, seems to be the center of oblivion. Yesterday, however, remains embodied in the memory of its people, who for the most part resist the transfiguration that the Colombian guerrillas and drug trafficking brought to the area.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Casigua El Cubo was a rural area, land of the Barí and Yukpa, indigenous ethnic groups that transmute these days between chaos and ostracism. Due to its proximity to Colombia, the town has been in conflict for several decades. Before the Political-Territorial Division of Zulia in 95, it belonged to the Catatumbo Municipality and became a second-class business center.
After the discovery of oil in the West Tarra and Los Manueles Fields, the economy of the population was strengthened and the great transmutation began that, over the years, dragged it to the current scenario where reality is confused with fantasy and, where the astonishing daily life , without carelessly encourages drug traffickers - natives and foreigners - to settle in huge fortresses, full of luxuries and whims, which make the less fortunate aspire to benefit from the kingdom of white powder, of opium gum. Yes, many of the children and young people who roam the dirt roads that intermingle with the newly paved streets of the town, dream of being part of that powerful company,
The first to dare to speak was Ramón. He told me that in that criminal geography uncomfortable witnesses were not welcome. He told me that the town is a forbidden zone where the worst criminal practices materialize. Ramón is my guide's uncle. He only knows that the United States is a kind of mecca where the poppy entrepreneurs go to great lengths to send their merchandise. He is about 60 years old and measures approximately 1.65 meters. He has always lived in Casigua and his travels are limited to the Colombian border where he often goes to look for the products that are in short supply on the shelves of local stores. His gray, disheveled hair looked oily and battered by the sun. His dry, veiny hands showed years of work and lack of care.
After reminding me about five times that those who speak go out lying down, referring to this that in Casigua fear prevailed years ago.
"Those who dare to say what happens face a capital sentence immediately.
Nobody is saved here.
Even the mayor, who is the head of the drug traffickers, carries lead every time he does not meet his quota".
This is how we began the unusual conversation that lasted more than two hours, under a half-dry tree. José and Ramón sat on some stools and drank some Regional brand beers, which they got in the shack on the corner.
Ramón confessed that Casigua was a quiet town in the '70s.
"There was work, peace and people had more confidence," he said.
But things began to change for the worse when the Colombian government joined the gringos to fight drugs and the guerrillas began to cross the river.
Little by little, the camouflaged people began to see themselves walking freely through the town.
At first taking care that they were not warned but, later, they were gaining notoriety and,
today, they are the owners of the place,
the bosses who even decide on the virginity of the girls and the affection of their own and strange women.
Ramón said that the guerrillas became the owners of the city.
They brag about money,
they are generous,
they pay a good salary
and if they are guaranteed loyalty they even take care of the other sides.
“They have become the leaders who command
even the Venezuelan military,
who for the most part became their employees.
Those [the national guard]
- he emphasizes -
have taken advantage of the change, you don't see any of the greens without a wad of dollars in their pocket, looking for the best c ... to pay fortunes for them. Right here there is a bar where many of them gather, drink good whiskey, and eat the girls and young women, who on occasions their own parents sell to achieve, not only the sustenance, but the protection of the hierarch ”.
The 14 and 15 year old boys parade in front of the "bosses" trying to get their attention. There are many who have learned to handle fear and, furious, ask shamelessly to become part of the mafia that will guarantee them easy money and adulterated emotions.
"And the thing is, who is going to want to work here for a minimum salary?
That is not enough for anything.
Here the issue is that the real ones do not give to eat and the youth no longer want to work as before.
They prefer to dedicate themselves to trafficking and mule.
Some go there in the mountains to work in the laboratories.
When they learn to make the merchandise they already have work and money in their pockets.
But you must, in return, leave your soul as the guarantor of your absolute silence. "
There are other people, he assures me, who are scared all the time.
"You see them with their bags clutched as if they were a baby,
looking around nervously,
unable to utter a word if one approaches them to ask them something ...
they are wandering aimlessly through the streets of the neighborhood."
In recent times, Casigua El Cubo has been filled with prostitutes who come from all the states to look for money or "tickets", as Ramón refers. The most daring jump to the other side and even stay there for several days. “You see those pretty girls, wandering around here and there looking for the highest bidder to sell their favors. Colombians love Venezuelan women because they are beautiful and cheap, as well as affectionate and carefree ”.
- And what happens when the Bolivarian police or the army discover a powerful drug trafficker or his employees carrying drugs? -asked.
- Ah, that never happens here. Because the drug traffickers pay the military to take care of their merchandise and they pay them very well. Here the guerrillas and drug traffickers are partners with politicians and they watch each other's backs all the time, ”he warned.
- What if there is someone who reports because they are not in the litter? - The one who dares to speak things can go quite badly for them. I met several who spoke and are already buried - sentence.
He drank the third beer while he continued talking.
Ramón assures that despite being born in Casigua,
he no longer recognizes his town, or the neighbors.
"Until a few years ago you could live here.
We had problems but they were overcome.
People trusted and worked to earn their livelihood in an honest way.
Young people went to school and wanted to get ahead.
But not anymore.
Now they just want to be drug traffickers and working for the cartels. "
Casigua El Cubo is located 10 kilometers from Troncal 6, a highway that connects other neighboring towns such as Machiques. It has an airport, El Cubo, located in the “Celedonio Sánchez” Army Battalion and, as J. Pérez informed us, there are also several clandestine runways from where planes full of drugs leave every day for Central America.
to be continued.....