The Venezuelan opposition is once again crying
about the "terrible repression" the poor rich suffer from the "Chavez regime." Strikingly,
they never compare their situation to the pre-Bolivarian period, nor other
Latin American countries, nor to the United
States, nor to Europe.
It's clear why: such a comparison would come out negatively for the opposition.
The following is small example of the repression, which has occurred in Germany, a
country often serving as "model" of modern bourgeois ideology.
In July 2007, the sociologist Andrej Holm was
detained for terrorism against the state of Germany. Holm is, amongst others, the editor of a book
about the revolutionary process in Venezuela (see below). On the same
day, three activists were also arrested who supposedly attempted to set ablaze
a group of trucks in a military barracks in Brandenburg
in protest against the war in Afghanistan.
At the same time, police brutally raided the apartments of three journalists –
amongst them also co-authors of the above-mentioned book. Holm and the other three were arrested and
immediately flown via helicopter from Berlin
to the High Court in Karlsruhe in Southern Germany.
Andrej Holm was held under suspicion for using
words and phrases, which were also found in texts of the "Militante Gruppe"
(MG, Militant Group). In recent years this group has confessed to various arson
attacks against state facilities and large companies. According to the
indictment, Holm had met one of the above-mentioned arrested persons some
months prior in a "conspiratory manner." Conspiratory, in this case, refers to
the fact that Mr. Holm had forgotten his mobile phone at home. Considering that
he was under permanent surveillance by the secret service, which included eavesdropping
of phone calls, this must have raised some suspicions.
Holm was arrested for the suspicion that he has
"helped the MG," because the "frequency of the similarity (between his texts
and the texts of the MG) is evident and cannot be explained by thematic
coincidence." "As a scientist who is politically active," continues the
indictment, "he is intellectually capable of writing the texts of the MG, which
are technically difficult." Moreover, "he has free access to libraries he can
use in order to carry out the investigations which are necessary for the MG."
One of the incriminating words is, "gentrification." The use of this term is
nothing of a surprise as Holm is a sociologist who specializes in
"gentrification," or in other words, the change of the structure of the
population in a city or region caused by neoliberal urban development politics.
Other words on the list were: "political practice," "draconian,"
"Marxist-Leninist," and "reproduction."
Anna Peters (name changed) was still sleeping
that morning, when someone fiercely knocked on the door. Her friend, one of the
above-mentioned journalists, had already left for work. She approached the
door, thinking that perhaps there was water damage in the house and firemen had
come to fix it. She never got to the
door- it flew open, struck her head and buried her on the floor. With a
battering ram, masked, and arms at gunpoint, a Special Forces police unit
assaulted the apartment.
All told, seven people are being accused for
terrorism under paragraph 129a of the German penal code, which prohibits the
"foundation, membership or support of a terrorist organization." In reaction to
the detentions, a campaign has begun for the defense of the accused,
including a self-accusation of professors and students who declared "we are all
129a, we are all terrorists," arguing convincingly that: they also have the
intellectual capacity and material at their disposal to be accused (i.e. they
also have free access to libraries to carry out investigations and also have
published texts using phrases and words the MG has used). For lack of evidence,
Holm was released from prison on the 22nd of August, after three weeks in an
isolated cell. The accusations, however, have been maintained.
Total surveillance was also maintained. Each
step of Holm, his partner, friends, and their children are being followed:
Cameras in front of the house, around-the-clock observation of e-mail and
telephone communication. Laughing at the situation, his girlfriend tells the
anecdotes produced by this absurd situation in a blog. For example, the one
of the "black bag": When Holm was released from prison, he had two folders with
official court documents about his own case. His mother gave him a black
plastic bag to carry them. Some days later, she phoned him and mentioned the
"black bag," and that it should be checked what is in there. The skilled reader
will presume what happened: A few moments later, agents having eavesdropped on the
phone calls, knocked on the door asking for the suspicious black bag.
An activist from Berlin says: "They invent things, like the
one from the terrorist group with the intellectual brains and the infantry. In
recent years they produced several accusations, raids and detentions without
proof, which all referred to paragraph 129a. In fact, this paragraph is used to
persecute political opinion not criminal acts. And in the first place, even if
these guys really wanted to burn military vehicles parked on the lot, they
didn't hurt anyone. What's the big deal about a car fire in comparison to the
lethal attacks on the Afghan population, which these cars are part of."
In August 2007, the book "Revolution as a Process,
Self-Organization and Participation in Venezuela" was published by the
group MovimentoR with Andrej Holm as the editor. One of the co-authors says:
"We are all activists in different parts of the social movements. Andrej, for
example, is a known political activist who has participated in many local and
international events such as, for instance, the organization of the recent
Media Centre against the G8 Summit in Rostock.
His bill of indictment says that he was involved in the "participation of the
left protests against the G8 summit." This is all part of a strategy to
intimidate leftist activists and their activities. The book we have published
about the revolutionary process in Venezuela is part of our
The introduction of the book reads: "There is
no other country on the subcontinent which is discussed as much as Venezuela and is as controversial as Venezuela. Also
within the left, opinions about the Bolivarian process diverge widely.
Especially in Germany,
skepticism dominates the left. Middle-class media dominates the news coverage
with its images of Populism and dictatorship, and everyone pretends to know everything
about Socialism. Information is dominated by the focus on the person of Chavez:
‘Chavez is closing TV-stations,' ‘Chavez visits the axis of the evil,' it seems
as if everything came from Chavez. In this way they create a personalized
debate, which ignores the essential protagonists, and which ignores the social
changes in the country. In order to write the chapters of this book we have
looked for the activists of this process."
Later the text continues: "… the apparent
paradox between the power of the state and the self-organization of the people
is a central issue in the search for revolutionary strategies. The utopia of
many occidental leftists has been well formulated by the philosopher John
Holloway in his book: Change the World without
Taking Power. Behind this lies the fear of the instrumental use of power
and the desire of changes, which do no harm to anybody. The Bolivarian Process
has shown that there are no changes without posing the question of power."
In an interview, one of the co-authors ponders
about the actual repression in Venezuela:
"The Venezuelan opposition lives very comfortable. They should be happy to live
in a country which is on the way to Socialism. In Germany, similar actions would not
be possible. A TV-station calling for a coup – regardless if successful or not –
would be closed right away. The church in Germany
could not protect persons who were involved in armed aggressions, and a person
who pours gasoline in a police car, when policemen are still inside, as has
been seen in a recent student demonstration in Caracas, would disappear in prison
immediately. Surely, actions as those of the opposition in Venezuela would gain a lot more repression in Germany."
The case of Holm corresponds to the current political dynamics developing
in present-day Germany.
The interior minister, Wolfgang Schaueble, is a great fan of total control. He
puts all and everything under suspicion in order to fight global terrorism. He
demands legal permission to spy via internet in personal computers of the whole
German population. He has gone so far as to ask for legal permission to shoot
down airplanes when they are hijacked, regardless of the lives of the innocent
national politics are not changed by single lunatics, but by the interests of its
political class. For a long time Germany has been preparing to reappear as new
force in the world of imperialism, where a few powerful claim free access to
markets and natural resources of the planet. Since the fall of the Soviet Union
as an opposing social model, the competition between these imperialist states
has sharpened rigorously and, in the case of Germany, the new external
militarization has also brought militarization home. Here, the politics of
"preventive security" boosts the dismantling of basic civil liberties.
The investigations in the case of Andrej Holm were carried out by the
Police Office of the German States. This agency is about to receive new
authorization under a proposed law reform in the fight against terrorism. The
draft of the "Law for the Defense of the Dangers of International Terrorism"
(2006) infringes massively in the so-called "Mandate of Separation" which was
introduced into German law after the Third Reich. This mandate stipulates a
strict separation of preventive activities of the secret service and executive
police activities. It was seen as a lesson from German fascism, in order to
avoid ever again that people are persecuted or held prisoner with only vague
suspicion without proof (unless in a state of emergency). It seems that exactly
this happened to Andrej Holm, not under a fascist regime, but under pure
representative, bourgeois democracy.
That is where the Venezuelan opposition comes in. As the Venezuelan opposition now cries fowl
play, it should remember that it is living under a government, which has
respected its rights more fervently than Germany would.
Wolfram Metzger is a physician with
specialization in infectious diseases and vaccinology. He collaborated as
co-author of a technical report from the Panamerican Health Organization
(PAHO/WHO) about Barrio Adentro (http://www.ops-oms.org.ve/) and contributed
the chapter about the Venezuelan health system to the book "Revolution as
a process, Self-Organization and Participation in Venezuela", Edition VSA, 2007.
(1) Open letter to the High Court
(in English): http://einstellung.so36.net/en/openletter
(2) Blogspot of Andrejs girlfriend
(in German): http://annalist.noblogs.org/
(3) Website of the group MovimentoR (in German): http://www.movimentor.net/MovimentoR.html