Venezuela's Government Thought Police

Venezuela's Government Thought Police

The Carib Grackle

The following is an English translation of an article written by Simón Rodríguez Porras, a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party (Partido Socialismo y Libertad), who publicly denounces the arbitrary detention and confiscation of books and magazines that he suffered at the Maiquetía airport of Venezuela at the hands of the Government's "Intelligence" police. The original article, in Castilian, can be found here.

By: Simón Rodríguez Porras

On the afternoon of October 16, I arrived at the international airport of Maiquetía, coming from Buenos Aires. During the review of my baggage by officials of the Integrated Customs and Tax Administration (SENIAT), they realized that I carried some books and magazines on political issues and immediately reported the case to the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). The copies of the book "Polémica con el Che Guevara" ("Controversy with Che Guevara"), a compilation of texts by Che and Nahuel Moreno published fifty years after the assassination of the Argentine revolutionary, and two editions of the International Correspondence magazine, edited by the current International Workers' Unity – Fourth International, of which the Socialism and Liberty Party (Partido Socialismo y Libertad, PSL) is part, were confiscated by the Seniat under the figure of a "preventive retention". The two issues of the magazine contain articles dedicated to the hundred years of the Russian Revolution and current political issues in Latin America, including a dossier entitled "Where is Venezuela going?" reflecting our criticism from the left opposition to the Venezuelan government. In the words of the superior officer in charge, they were "destabilizing" materials and therefore required the SEBIN's performance. The minutes read that the retention "is practiced until the consignee demonstrates compliance with the obligations established in the customs regime and other legal provisions." Given that for its small number and economic value is not a matter of taxes or illicit imports, it is striking that SENIAT assumes functions of ideological control.

Then three officials of the SEBIN told me to accompany them to their offices in the basement of the International Airport of Maiquetía to conduct an interview. There I was held in-communicated for almost five hours. I was subjected to an interrogation about the content of the magazines and my political activities. I was also reviewed photographically.

On October 18, I unsuccessfully tried to get the SENIAT to return the confiscated magazines and books.

These types of protocols implemented by the SENIAT and SEBIN demonstrate the restriction of democratic freedoms, particularly freedom of expression and access to information; the persecution of dissent and arbitrary methods used against persons considered "subversive" or "destabilizing" solely for their opinions. In this case it is a detention for being part of the left opposition, which with full independence from Chávez and the MUD promotes a worker's and popular exit to the crisis, for the construction of a truly democratic and socialist society, without exploitation, without transnational plunder and without the horrendous social inequalities and the misery that now plague Venezuela by the will of a sector of the emerging bourgeoisie clinging to power.