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 Juan Pablo Núñez, member of the band Doña Maldad, soloist in Cadáveres podrido, activist, colleague of El Libertario and anarcho-punk from the region of Zulia.
-How is it being a young anarchist in Venezuela? Is it challenging?
I have been fighting for this cause for more than 15 years. I am an adult, but I am still young at heart so I can answer the question: I don’t think that it is different from any other country. The matter which makes the situation complicated is the strong polarization that is dividing people. We must establish opinions that aren’t seen as crazy or even despised. Socialist Venezuela is a huge farce because it is merely the continuation of what the system supposedly criticizes to gain the same power, resources and people’s autonomy.
–First Manuel Rosales, then Eveling Trejo to culminate with Francisco Arias Cardenas… haven’t the people from Zulia learnt their lesson?
Neither the people from Zulia or Venezuelans from other states have learnt that regardless of who rules it is only a tool for their own interests. Manuel Rosales was governor and Dimartino was the mayor. When this happened there was a strange competitiveness between both groups of power. Meanwhile Arías Cárdenas is the governor and Trejo is the mayor. In their continuous battle to sink their political adversaries they have left the city destroyed: full of garbage, black water… In essence, their businesses and personal interests rule over the interests of the people.
Arias is a very strategic militant, he wants to transform Zulia into a powerful state, just like his advertisements suggest. His mission is to expand the territory with neoliberal projects of development and other interests from Colombia which include infrastructure, coal mining, ports for exportation, militarization, etc. The consequences of his policies could leave Zulia without any water resources, along with contributing to a high level of deforestation and increase in Colombian contraband. Zulia has become another business for the military.
-How do you see the lack of criticism from NGO’s towards the role of Francisco Arias Cárdenas, knowing that he is destroying the Sierra de Perija?
Political matters are based on blackmail. Chavism knows a lot about this because I think that it has always been their main pressure tool. I am not surprised that many organizations and NGO’s obtain mutual support from people like Francisco Arias in exchange for turning a blind eye to certain problems. They have already destroyed our lake a long time ago and nothing was done to solve this from any NGO’s.
–The death of Sabino Romero… What is your opinion on his death?
Sabino Romero was an important figure for his speeches and the actions he undertook to obtain land for ethnic groups like the Yukpas. He was a threat to the government because he was a firm believer in Chávez’s speech. He also altered the power relations between farmers, the military and the government. Sabino was also serving as an inspirational example for other indigenous communities in the country. This is why Sabino was killed by the farmers with the complicity of the government.
-How do you see the issue of the Arco Minero del Orinoco and the current focus on extractivism by the Venezuelan state?
The Arco mining issue is something very worrying and we have to take action right now. The majority of the Venezuelan terrain in situated in the river Orinoco. They have already installed an oil-bearing station in Faja and they are about to start mining in the south. The mere action of inviting 135 transnational businesses and accepting their partnership is something incredibly nefarious for our territory and our people. We are talking about a mining program that is occurring over important reserves of water, fauna, flora and indigenous communities. The Arco Minero marks the beginning of the end of all of our natural treasures. If this doesn’t stop then death, wars and sickness will soon come. Full destruction. The Venezuelan state is approving the biggest eco-suicide known in our entire history and the Bolivian government is complicit.
-After so many defeats… How do you currently see the resistance of indigenous communities?
The example and reference that I have are the battles of Zulia. We are currently living the consequences of subsidized activism. Chavism gave and took away the same blackmail that we talked about. The Yukpas, after so much hardship, are now surviving because they have been abandoned to their own luck. The Wayuu of Socuy social movement have managed to start projects that keep indigenous communities optimistic. But I think that the autonomy would be the flag that should be risen and demonstrated through examples to prove that that they don’t need the state to solve their problems. Instead they must build strong alliances with the movements of the city to establish relations where people are involved and feel a sense of belonging.
-You play in music bands like Doña maldad and now started the band Cadáveres podridos… Is it challenging to produce independent music in Venezuela?
No, I don’t think that it is that hard, especially now when you can record with anything.
-Do you queue to buy regulated food or do you engage in bachaqueo?
I don’t queue, the feeling of impotence and rage that I feel don’t allow me to do so. I don’t engage in bachaqueo either because it is an extortionist practise. If you thought that only the population could save themselves from this mess take a look at this phenomena and the collective desperate desire for survival. I imagine that you must ask yourself if I buy any contraband. Our alimentation at home has been severely affected by the current situation. We eat lots of fruits and grains from a standard vegetarian diet but now we can’t even pay for grains, fruits or anything for that matter. Everything is too expensive. We should start planting seeds, everyone should do that.
-Have you been a victim of the increasing crime rate? Have they lynched anybody where you live?
Yes, I have been mugged several times, even by pointing a gun at my face. I am aware of thieves being killed by the police on a regular basis.
-How is electricity rationing where you live?
Two daily hours, sometimes this timetable is maintained and sometimes it’s not. In fact whilst I am writing this right now I know that the light will go off soon.
-How have people reacted to the price increase of public transport?
There have already been protests across the universities. People seem visibly miserable. I tend to use my bicycle, it’s the best option.
-Do you have any problems with your internet?
It is very slow. I don’t have any Internet connection at home because it broke and nobody has fixed it yet.
-Do you think people are starting to get fed up not only with the government but also with the opposition? Where are we heading towards?
I hope that we are heading for a revolt.
-Have you ever thought of running away, crossing the border? Or do you have to stay to build and fight?
Yes, I have thought about leaving on numerous occasions, but I want the current government to leave even more. All of them. In these moments we have to fight because the plans of the government are nefarious for all Venezuelans.
-Did you know that we all have to be inscribed to obligatory military service? How do you see the militarization of society?
Yes… I knew, but I didn’t inscribe myself. The country has ended up like this because we are in the hands of the military. What we have lived and what will soon come isn’t going to be easy, especially with CAMIMPEG, a military-mining corporation.
What activities are you performing in Zulia? Do anarchist organizations exist?
There is a little bit of everything in Zulia, the movements I involve myself with are related to the defence of water, against the mining of coal… Here there are a lot of things for everybody, but we must expand our capacity in the city. Cyclers, musicians, poets, everyone in the world should establish objectives and plans of action to save this city from political unconsciousness.
-What should be libertarian attitudes in these moments?
In this moment we must continue organizing lots of demonstrations to highlight the inefficiency of the state.
–Would you like to add anything to end the interview? What would you recommend for fellow anarchists?
Assist popular markets, support fights, demonstrate your discontent and turn off your phones.
Article taken from anarchist Venezuelan newspaper El Libertario (http://periodicoellibertario.blogspot.com/search/label/Cr%C3%B3nicas%20Negras)
Written by Rodolfo Montes de Oca
Translated into English by Pietro Casati