Lanz disappeared from his home in Maracay, Aragua State on August 8, prompting a grassroots campaign demanding authorities open an inquiry. In response, Saab unveiled a “multidisciplinary commission,” including the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) as well as anti-extortion and kidnapping police units to “discover the truth.”
Lanz,76, is a well-respected Marxist sociologist who dedicated his later years to writing over 50 books and pamphlets on topics including “non-conventional imperialist warfare,” paramilitary infiltration, agricultural development and communal power. He previously served as an advisor to the government of Hugo Chavez and presided over public sector aluminium firms ALCASA and VENALUM, which are known for their leading role in promoting workers’ control. A guerilla fighter in the 1960s and ‘70s, Lanz helped found the Party of the Venezuelan Revolution (PRV) and took part in the high-profile 1976 kidnapping of US industrialist William Frank Niehous, which led to Lanz serving ten years in prison.
According to his life partner, Mayi Cumare, Lanz’s disappearance is a “tough blow to the revolution.”
Members of Lanz’s family state that he disappeared from their family residence between 9.45 and 11 am on August 8, “atypically” breaking with his routine by not taking his medicine.
“My father would never have said ‘Damn, I feel like going out to buy pork scratchings, to hell with the pandemic,’” explained Alex Lanz. “Everyone who knew him knows that if he had gone out he would have told someone, and he would have eaten breakfast first (…) He is from the old guard of the guerrilla who are very disciplined,” he continued.
Concerning whether his recent writings on paramilitarism and proxy wars may be a motive for his disappearance, Lanz’s son explained,“Carlos has always had threats against him, this has been normal since he was 17 and became a guerrilla fighter (…) [currently] he is a relatively straightforward military target if one sought to make noise or cause panic.”
His family has since highlighted puzzling details about his disappearance, such as the fact that Lanz’s house keys are missing but the customary berets that he always wears are not. They have ruled out degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, pointing to Lanz’s lucidity in his recent political activism.
Since going missing, Lanz’s family has received wide-reaching displays of solidarity from Venezuela’s centre-left and left-wing political parties, with the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) “ordering all of [its] structure (…) and militancy to join the investigation” and the Communist Party (PCV) encouraging popular movements to provide community-based intelligence on his whereabouts.
A range of grassroots groups both in Aragua State and elsewhere have also mobilised, including holding a rally in Caracas’ Bolivar Square where people signed up to assist in the search and opening up a phone line for information.
Cuando han pasado más de 96 horas de la desaparición de Carlos Lanz, movimientos sociales realizan una concentración en la Plaza Bolívar de Caracas. Cualquier información útil para hallar a nuestro camarada, por favor, comunicarla a través del teléfono 0416 6227463 pic.twitter.com/sVV5ncRc6c
— Larissa Costas (@Larissacostas) August 12, 2020
Edited by Lucas Koerner from Philadelphia.