Poverty as a crime: of auyamas and law enforcement officers

Mar 27, 2023 | 0 Comentarios

November 30, 2016

Keymer Ávila | @Keymer_Avila

“If someone during the day collects fruits to eat, and when carrying it does not cause great damage, he will be punished civilly (that is, not criminally) according to the quality of persons or things” Constitutio Ciminalis Carolina, 1532. In Marx, C. (1842 ) Debates of the Rhenish Diet.

“Shut up,” said Don Quixote: “And where have you ever seen, or read, that a knight-errant has been brought to justice, for more homicides than he had committed” Cervantes, M. (1605) The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha .

Much has been written and verified about the classist, racist and xenophobic character of the Penal System , in which a process of selection, stigmatization and criminalizing conditioning is deployed. In this process, the stereotypes provided by the media are essential. This stereotype is nourished by the general characteristics of the most dispossessed majority sectors, and the clientele for this bombardment are the most vulnerable, immature, less intelligent or less skilled individuals in this sector (that is, the most vulnerable of the vulnerable). ). These are the recipients of the sentences .

This selective process has existed since the existence of penalties. Describing the work of Spee (author of Cautio Criminalis ), Zaffaroni comments that if the inquisition had been projected into the future indefinitely, all of Germany would have been burned and since this could not be the case, what was done was to select the most stupid women they found to burn them and the only limit that opposed this power was the wealth and power of the princes and magistrates.

This same author explains how these logics coming from the central countries were received in our countries and adapted to different processes of domination. Thus, for example, the jail in our countries was, then, a minor kidnapping institution within a much larger one: the great colonial kidnapping institution.

More than being scandalized by the photos, it is necessary to do it by the daily praxis, not recent, rather traditional and institutionalized against the poorest

These basic and unfortunately current approaches must be present in all the temporary and ephemeral commotion, but not for that reason unimportant, that has been generated by the news of the arrest of a young man for the theft of some pumpkins, which was followed by other cases with various fruits and vegetables. Regarding this scandal built by the media from a daily practice of all the institutions of the Penal System, it must be taken into account that these types of subjects are the recipients of criminal laws, and of all the violations that are made in their name. More than being scandalized by the photos, it is necessary to do it by the daily praxis, not recent, rather traditional and institutionalized against the poorest, and with the current economic situation *it sharpens. The dissemination of these events should be of some use, which, more than obtaining partisan revenues, should mobilize us to demand limits and put a stop to the abuses and excesses of the different system operators.

Every day it is more common to see deaths at the hands of the State security forces , without requiring investigations or responsibilities for this type of event. In 2015 this phenomenon increased by more than 80% compared to the previous year and everything indicates that in 2016 this figure will be much higher . On the other hand, we see these same officials involved in much more serious criminal activities than thefts for gleaning, stealing or rummaging for fruits (article 454 of the Penal Code). Thus, for example, in 2015 alone, the Public Ministry investigated 227 officials from different State security forces, civilians and military, for extortion and kidnapping.Until now, the results of these investigations are unknown. In a press follow-up that we are carrying out so far this year, at least 420 officials, including justice system operators , are involved in criminal activities. Will the Penal System have the same efficiency and harshness with these cases? I don’t believe it.

From the photographs that have gone around the networks of the cases of theft of fruits and vegetables, some recent, others not so much, several contrasts and paradoxes can be seen:

  1. On the one hand we have a propaganda, sometimes corny, that revolves around express agricultural production and projecting that ” everything is very normal “; On the other hand, we have structural conditions that force young people to steal food.
  2. Citizen security tasks are civilian in nature, not military , however, we appreciate how the militarization of these tasks is becoming more widespread . This is how we have National Guards focused on trifle crimes (which is what the Penal System really deals with) instead of dealing with protecting our borders and large smuggling (not retail) of food and other merchandise, some of they illegal .
  3. The opacity with the data and information of the institutions that make up the Penal System does not fit with the propaganda and foolish work that they have, as an example are the majority of the photos that are circulating whose origin comes from the National Guard and the Police. of Zulia State.
  4. On the one hand, there is a constant display of captures and deaths of poor young people by the state security forces; on the other, there is an evident inaction and silence in the face of serious complaints related to human rights violations , drug trafficking , arms trafficking and administrative corruption that are becoming more and more common in the country.

This type of practice, beyond its daily nature, must be denounced, because the Penal System must be the ultima ratio , which is why it is a priority to attend to the structural conditions that generate these needs, that is, to go for the causes and not just for the consequences. What should particularly concern us is that these organizations not only naturalize this type of procedure, but also internally come to consider it as something positive, remarkable, worthy of being part of their promotion and institutional propaganda, as happened with several of the images. that originally came from official twitter accounts, which after the negative reaction in networks were deleted from them. Officials of the Penal SystemThey should be more concerned with exercising their role properly, within the framework of legality, prioritizing the most serious cases , instead of being dedicated to propaganda and small-time events. Do you want to hit crime hard? Focus on investigating and prosecuting those who create the conditions and not those who suffer their consequences.

As Ali Primera said: « The police are always efficient when it comes to the poor ».

* While the average inflation rate for Latin America for 2014 was 8.4%, that of Venezuela was 68.5%. The poverty rate also rose during the last year (ECLAC, 2015). Since 2013, the INE has reported that the reduction in poverty that had been achieved in previous years has been reversing, for that year poverty had increased 6 points (Forum for Life, 2015:13). According to the Survey on Living Conditions in Venezuela, households in a situation of poverty increased by 53% and extreme poverty doubled during the last year (Spain, 2015).

Publicado originalmente en Provea.

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