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.
Interview with Luis Sulbaran, a young anarcho-punk from Barquisimeto, member of punk band Warsystem, editor of Rebelion Libertaria and part of the collective Acracia. In April he organized anarcho-punk meetings in Guanare.
-How is it being a young anarchist in Venezuela’s current socialist regime? Is it challenging?
Well, for starters, this so called socialist regime is nothing more than a lie. Political revolutions can’t achieve anything if no social revolution exists. It is a lie that has been ingrained into so many Venezuelan people for many years. There are only change of governments, whilst the state keeps accumulating our efforts and riches, uses people with forms of blackmail like patriotism, religion and politics, thus reminding us constantly that these elements are indispensable for our lives in each electoral campaign, and as predicted, the population falls into this trap by believing the game. It’s complicated, like everywhere else, I suppose. The polarization in Venezuela has been in charge of silencing the opposition. And the people in this country are used to being dependent on the state and political parties, it doesn’t matter what slogan or colour they have because apathy distorts humanity.
–You play in a band called Warsystem… Can you tell us a Little more about this musical Project?
Of course. The band is a way to enhance our lives. We are a new project that is giving rotten Venezuela D-beat music. For now we are concentrating on recording our first EP, always basing ourselves on the “Do it yourself” motto to be autonomous and make the current punk scene understand that we don’t need bureaucratic spaces to organize our events. That only by brotherhood and mutual support we can make punk a real movement in this piece of land.
–Do you queue to buy food or engage in “bachaqueo”?
I despise bachaqueo. Seeing our own people screw therselves further by engaging in this activity disgusts me because the only ones that gain money through this process are the contraband food mafias. I don’t consume anything that comes from animals, so I generally but vegetables, fruits in markets and I also recycle. I try to buy the less food possible because in the big distributor chains lots of food is thrown away and they prefer wasting it rather than simply rendering it cheaper or giving it away for free. But of course, I have queued up to buy regulated food for some relatives, however I personally don’t like queueing because it saddens me to see so much miserable and desperate people that will kill each other for things like flour or a packet of baby nappies.
–Have you been victim of any crime? Have they lynched anyone where you live?
This is another factor that shows the lack of consciousness amongst us: to see your own neighbourhood constantly stealing. It is not sufficient that the government and banks rob us, now your own neighbour and other people come and take your possessions by force. Yes, I have been a victim of a crime. The stole my electric guitar whilst I was walking to my house. A motorbike intercepted me with two men and I had to give them my instrument and now I am left with absolutely nothing to play with. I use my friend’s guitars in the meantime.
–How is electricity rationing where you live?
Well I think that it is the same everywhere in the country. Nowadays we already have the timetables for when the electricity will shut down. However in my opinion the issue of electricity and water rationing is a hypocrisy by the Venezuelan state. On one hand they declare Friday to be a festive day to entertain people with rumba and alcohol, whist they exploit our land in La Sierra de Perija with the corporation Carboelectrica. This transnational deal based on mining produces a lot of contamination in our most important territories.
–How have people reacted to the ticket price increase for public transport?
Here a ticket from the north zone to the city centre will cost you 50 or 70 Bs during the day. However at night-time they will charge you 100 Bs for the same bus. People still pay for it, they have no other option, even though they express their discontent when they are charged. There have been a couple of strikes from both users and transport workers, primarily due to the lack of replacements.
–Are you having any problems with the internet?
Lately is has been relatively stable, even though sometimes it shuts down.
–What is your opinion on Henry Flacon and his desire to become president?
I mainly see Henry Falcon as a parasite and opportunist. He knows this better than anyone. Just like all politicians, he tries to take advantage of his power in the government to increase his capital. It is a well-known fact that he’s the owner of many big businesses in the city of Barquisimeto. In regards to his management, I have always criticized the fact that he is a shameless scoundrel. Instead of worrying about human necessities like health, he organizes even more pathetic events with pathetic “artists” to keep on distracting the population. For instance stupidities like creating artificial beaches and building an enormous Virgin statue, wasting a huge budget that we have paid for! Our bank Warsystem talks about the wonderful management of Henri Falcon in the track “Barquisimeto stinks of shit”. This all fails to surprise me, any idiot wants to be the president because they know that it pays well.
–Do you think people are growing tired of the government and opposition? Where are we heading towards?
Personally, we know that nowadays Chavismo has a huge impact on people. They were forced to vote for Nicolas Maduro with remorse and a lot of emotional blackmail and propaganda that Christians use when they want you to come to their church. Something absurd along the lines of “Chavez died for us so we must vote for Maduro”. The population is confused and cheated thanks to their dependence on religion and the state. However, now it’s an entirely different story: When hunger attacks there is no ideology of political faithfulness that is worth anything. People know that everything is screwed. Many have some hope in left-wing parties. This is ingenuous because the population have trouble understanding that no matter who you vote, they will all arrive to the government’s palace to become bourgeois. And the people? They will keep on being slaves, condemned to consumerism, obedience and death. Where are we heading for? People are hungry, thirsty and fed up. We might be close to a social explosion.
–Have you ever thought about running away from all of this by crossing the border and leaving? Or do you have to stay to build and fight?
All patriots are idiots. I consider myself hugely anti-patriotic because that is another form of blackmail and a way to dominate people. The trigger of xenophobia is patriotism. I think that we must build and fight wherever you happen to be located. Given how I am in Venezuela, the fight begins here.
–What do you think about the whole issue surrounding the Arco Minero del Orinoco?
This is one of the things that worries me the most. Especially in regards to all the apathy that exists towards the topic. During the anarcho-punk meetings we talked about the Motor Minero and how we could act against this problem. This program implies the biggest eco-suicide in South-America, along with violating human rights. To obtain a gram of gold, approximately 450 mil of water is used. The water that the state refuses to give us is used in the Arco Minero in Orinoco.
The disrespect to indigenous tribes is particularly tragic. The government has manipulated this issue by stating that there would be no transnational companies working there, despite the fact that 150 transnationals have been allowed to extract gold, steel and other materials of industrial use. We have to act now and manifest our discontent in the streets against this decree which will bring devastation to the earth, fauna, vegetation, water and us.
–Did you know that we all must be inscribed in the Compulsory Military registration? How do you view the militarization of society?
Of course I know. In fact, I was sharing this with my colleagues of Provea and Laboratorio de Paz in the city when I attended the workshop of “I am a citizen, not a soldier”. It is an excellent workshop. Look, we now live in a government where the leader of the followers is from the military. We also live in a place where the means of communication are released to the public, but controlled by the military. Several military companies operate in Venezuela, such as Seguros Horizonte and CAMMIPEG. For the government it is necessary to keep the population in a state of constant dependence and this path is achieved through militarisation. It enhances hierarchies and keeps their pawns ready in case they “need to defend the motherland”, or more specifically, defend the interests of power and permanent government.
-What activities are you doing in Barquisimeto? Do anarchist organizations exist?
Well, firstly this neighbourhood was characterized as a main focus of resistance groups, such as the Kiosko Alternativo. After this movement died, anarchist organizations in Barquisimeto started disappearing. There were still groups, but they were anarchists that served as electoral propaganda for the state, and they saw Chávez as “The voice of the people”. Currently, we are starting anarchism again from the bottom, we have several compatriots with common ideas and with my friend Esteban Mejíaz we have been participating in the collective group of action ACRACIA. We are gaining steam slowly, but we are never stopping. The first of our activities was the organization of the Anarcho-punk day in Guanare 2016. We are also organizing a group with the FLIA Barquisimeto with the intention of distributing independent written material on the streets, without permission.
–How was the Anarcho-punk meeting in Guanare? Do you think it’s the first time that a libertarian activity was organized in the village? How was the reception from the people?
I can tell you that people quickly came around to the meeting and enjoyed the music and really liked our intention to bring something different to the community, which is only accustomed to the music they hear currently on commercial radios. I am not sure if this was the first anarchist activity organized, but I can assure you that it will not be the last and we hope to count on your support and anybody that wants to participate.
–What should Libertarians attitudes be in these moments?
Affinity and kinship, primarily. We are living in very difficult times and I don’t want to sound too pessimistic, but the worst is yet to come. We must remain united against anything that could come and always support popular fights searching for alternatives, agitating and awaking the crowds. We have to organize ourselves well and build together an anarchist movement that grows every day more. Think globally, act locally.
-What would you like to add to conclude? What do you recommend to compatriots?
We must never give up. The fight has just begun. In all the places that we find ourselves, let’s fight for liberation, mutual support and anarchy. We must never remain silent against the state. We have to understand our surroundings and inform ourselves constantly. Anarchism, being revolutionary, can never remain motionless, but in constant movement. Let’s form free associations, counter-informative means of communication, social centres. Let’s work together and get rid of traditions based on oppression that limit our liberty. Anarchism is responsibility. Think, act, do it yourself.
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