Black Chronicles are a series of interviews conducted to different anarchists currently living in Venezuela, narrating the struggles the face living in one of the few socialist regimes. These interviews deal with the everyday lives of men and women and highlight the precarious situations in which they are forced to live in.
In this edition we interview Esteban Mejiaz, a French anarcho-punk radicalized in Lara and son of the famous painter Mauro Mejiaz. From the beginning of his arrival in Venezuela he has collaborated with many initiatives like El Libertario.
-A French anarchist in Venezuela…could you talk to us about your journey and how you ended up here?
I arrived during 2000 when I was 28 years old because I was in charge of bringing my father’s ashes, who was Venezuelan, to his native village in Biscucuy. I fell in love with the country, the warmth of the people, and I took advantage of the change of regime. I have been an anarcho-punk since 1984, I started in 1987 with my brother Macario with a blog (https://angrrylabel.wordpress.com/) and after with a monthly paper of alternative news. I participated in anti-fascist and anti-capitalism fights and in the organization of a lot of anarcho-punk concerts in Paris, Lyon and Geneva. In 1995 I opened a music shop in Lyon, I had a travelling workshop. In 1995 I moved to the Alps and I carried on organizing concerts. It was in the Alps where I began to develop an interest for the countryside, farming and animals. I moved to Venezuela for good in 2003.
-How is the issue of agriculture? Is it easy to obtain seeds? Are people cultivating the fields?
Commercial farming is very expensive now, other than the constant drought, people can only cultivate when they have water and money, so they mainly live from planting and breeding. I also find some seeds across the fields.
-Is there any relationship with other farmers where you live?
Thankfully, there is still mutual support amongst farmers and some of them meet to criticize the government’s plans.
-How do you see the topic of Henry Falcón (governor of Lara) and his presidential aspirations?
He is yet another corrupt figure with the sole ambition of stealing on a national level, just like all other politicians.
-Have they stolen from you?
Not yet, which is strange considering that they have stolen or killed lots of people around me. They tried to steal from me in Caracas but failed because I wasn’t scared and I had a couple of tattoos and piercings.
-Have you suffered any political repression in Venezuela?
In 2000 just 3 days after arriving in Venezuela I was kidnapped and robbed in Guanare by an extermination group, nobody understood why I wasn’t killed. In 2005 I was victim to constant death threats and was then tortured in Biscucu by the regional police. In 2013 I was threatened by some scammers because I had denounced them. My Christian colleague wrote about this incident (http://lalibertaria.acultura.org.ve/blog/2013/05/10/418/) and thanks God for my luck, but I am an atheist and shit on God! Hahah.
-Do you queue or engage in Bachaqueo? Is it easy to cultivate in your area?
I don’t queue or do bachaqueo because they are too far way. I buy what I can and they give me food in exchange for other products, people help me by giving me food. In my area there is too much wind which ruins the seeds, I am going to cultivate wheat because it doesn’t suffer from the wind. We also eat what the mountain provides us with (watercress, wild fruits, I also have chickens and goats).
-Are you experiencing any water problems where you live?
We are one of the few sectors that has access to a lot of water, I live inside the national park of Dinira.
-You are also a father… how is it being a father in socialist Venezuela?
I imagine that it must be the same as being a father under French capitalism, I work hard every day for my daughter just like my parents did.
-How do you see the issue of the Arco Minero in Orinoco and the exploitation of coal in the Sierra de Perijá?
It represents the destruction of the environment and lots of human beings just for a couple of dollars for a select minority of elites, it is disgraceful, history repeats itself, listen to the song from Subhumans “the same old story”.
-I know that you are a huge defender of indigenous communities… Could you explain to us how you started this connection and how you see the resistance amongst indigenous communities in Venezuela?
I am half indigenous by blood, my father was Chaman and I heal people through my genetic indigenous connection. I got into contact with them due to the issue of coal exploitation in Sierra de Perija, their resistance is old and strong and will never end as long as some of them remain.
You are a great promoter of alternative means of communication against the government blackout… Is it time to create our own means of communication?
Yes, I’ve been fighting for this cause since 2007 in Venezuela, but we were denied this by the Chavistas. This is why I am still so grateful that newspapers like El Libertario are still running, I hope that 2016 is a moment to organize ourselves with all the country. No more apathy!
-Do you have problems with access to the Internet?
It is very slow and in the Andes region it is very expensive and the connection is very weak. I am waiting for them to install WIFI through the antenna that I have on my roof.
-Why are you staying in Venezuela, why not just move to France again and live their anarchist scene?
South America is a paradise, I don’t fear challenges: I will resist without giving up, I will never go back because I never felt like I belonged in France or Europe anyways. I always say that “I will lower my hands only to cultivate the earth”. My home is the planet and I feel at home in this piece of land regardless of what happens.
-How do you see the situation in Venezuela? What should be anarchist attitudes? Who do we collaborate and who are we against?
The situation is complicated and interesting, the crisis has completely altered people’s lifestyles and they have to react to survive, change lots of habits. This is the moment for anarchism, I wish people stopped trusting governments and politicians and begin controlling their own destinies. I never voted in any election, not even in France, each anarchist should know what to do wherever they live. We should be against anybody that threatens our freedom… With the people, against the power!
-Wild and free until the end? …should that be our motto?
Yes, I always say: the fight is like life, it only ends when death catches on to us. The motto I share with my brother is: Do what you want by whatever means necessary!
Text taken from Venezuelan anarchist newspaper “El Libertario” (http://periodicoellibertario.blogspot.com/search/label/Cr%C3%B3nicas%20Negras)
Originally written by Rodolfo Montes de Oca
Translated into English by Pietro Casati