April 11, 2017Keymer Ávila | @Keymer_Avila
The unfortunate case of the alleged double homicide that occurred in Sabana Grande a couple of weeks ago has given rise to opinions of all kinds, most of them with too much yellow that far from informing or giving any contribution, they contribute to legitimizing emotional and emergency responses that they end up aggravating the problems instead of reducing them. In an attempt to “harm reduction” some ideas are suggested to try to reorient the debate on these sensitive issues:
- Define the objective pursued : are we looking for structural or temporary solutions? Do you want to contribute something relevant or are you only interested in being part of the trending topic ? Do you want to address the issue seriously and responsibly or just resort to common places and prejudices, remaining superficial? Do you want to reveal the apparent and go to the structural or collaborate to cover up these factors? Is the perspective of the victim or the perpetrator assumed? Who is really the victim and who is the perpetrator? Who are the most vulnerable? Who has the greatest social claim power? If you do not have a clear objective from the beginning, the results will be unexpected and possibly not the best.
- Transcend Manichaeism and address the phenomenon from its complexity: the debate cannot be reduced to demonizing or idealizing children living on the streets, we must aim higher.
- Children are people and consequently they are subjects of rights : What is sought with the label “murderous puppies”? What is a puppy ?
According to the DRAE puppy means: a short-lived dog. || Small child of other mammals, such as the lion, the tiger, the wolf, the bear, etc.
What is done with “animals” when they are “murderers”? They are sacrificed.
So, then, we start from the idea that the children and adolescents (NNA) in the case of Sabana Grande are not people, they are animals, and consequently they have no rights, so anything can be done with them, such as displaying them on networks and media, and then demand their sacrifice. If this logic is followed, then what they did is not a crime, because animals do not commit crimes, therefore they are outside the world of law and with them we can do our will without any limits . This has hitherto been the line of embedded journalism . Do they intend to exterminate them? A childish PLO ?
Do we require law enforcement for all or just some? Who should be held accountable for their actions, the children or the adults and the institutions they run?
If we adhere to the law, children and adolescents are full subjects of rights and should be protected with absolute priority by the State, families and society (arts. 75 and 78 CRBV, 1 to 116 LOPNNA) and those who exhibit them to the detriment of their rights are subject to legal sanctions (arts. 65 and 227 LOPNNA), a violation of the law that is aggravated if it is committed through any means of communication (art. 228 LOPNNA). All this without excluding the possible criminal responsibilities for incitement to hatred and disobedience of the law, defamation and injury, in aggravated modalities, in which the educated and decent professionals who have promoted such a campaign have been able to incur. In addition to flagrant violations of the Rules on Police Action when it is directed at NNAcommitted by the officials of the security forces who intervened in the case and who leaked the images of those involved. Do we demand the application of the law for all or only for some? Who should be held accountable for their actions, the children or the adults and the institutions they run?
- Children living on the streets are not a cause, they are a consequence : they are the result of economic, social and institutional exclusion , which can be translated as structural violence, understood as social and institutional spaces of marginalization, exploitation and repression. This type of violence is much less visible but more damaging and widespread than direct violence , which is characterized by being predominantly physical or verbal and which is the most apparent (Galtung).
Everyone focuses on this direct violence , the result of which was the homicide of two people, but few seem to be interested in the structural violence of which street children are victims, which is the reproductive machine of this whole situation.
UNICEF for a decade has stated that “street boys and girls suffer harassment or are victims of beatings by the police, others have been killed by vigilante gangs to “clean up the city”, often with the complicity or the indifference of local authorities” ( UNICEF, 2006: 41 )
In 2016 CECODAP came to count 1,150 cases of homicides of children and adolescents, 12% more than last year . Some 408 died at the hands of the State security forces , which represented an increase of 49.5% compared to 2015, which registered 273 deaths. Of these cases, at least 61 were victims of extrajudicial executions , 33 within the framework of the OLPs .
But these outrageous numbers don’t seem to matter to mainstream journalism or social media moral judges.
- The problem is not the “violence of children in street situations”, this is just a symptom, the real problem is that we as a society have children in this condition .
- We do not have to wait for a tragic and scandalous event to happen to realize that street children exist : from the case cited at the beginning it seems that the existence of these children has been rediscovered. In the last century, different literary and artistic manifestations recorded their presence: in the 1920s José Rafael Pocaterra left us Panchito Madefuá , a year before the Caracazo Manuel De Pedro told us that in Sabana Grande it is always daytime , and at the end of the Elia Schneider presented us with a more up-to-date vision of the daily life of the smelly glue and the laws that govern them, rightly recalled in the article by Esther Pineda. In the introduction to this last film, we are presented with the following data for 1999: in Venezuela 7 million children lived in a state of poverty, 4 million suffered from chronic malnutrition, 3 million were outside the educational system, and 600,000 were in a state of total abandonment. These figures were accompanied by the complaint against the institutional and social violence of which they are victims, defining the situation as a “true social chaos.” President Chávez in 2008 pointed out that the figure was greater than 8 thousand , to later affirm: “… the Bolivarian Revolution ratifies its commitment to children, to girls and especially to the poorest” What have been the advances in this matter in the last 9 years? What have those responsible for his legacy done so far? What have been the results of the Bolivarian Schools and High Schools with their full schedules and active canteens , of the Mothers of the Neighborhood Mission, of the Food Houses, of the Neighborhood Boys and Girls Mission, of the National Plan for Substitute Families and the Black Mission Hippolyta?
- It is not a legislative problem , it is a social and institutional problem : it is not with legal reforms but with political and institutional will that these issues must be addressed. Precisely due to short-term legislative reforms (2006), sometimes motivated by scandalous cases (2015), the comprehensive protection system for children and adolescents conceived in the original draft of the LOPNA (1998) has been progressively dismantled , diluting responsibilities among different institutional actors (Education, Health, Participation and Social Development, Communes and now the Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness attached to the Office of the Presidency of the Republic; Rights Councils, Protection Councils, Ombudsmen and Courtsof NNA, Public Ministry, Ombudsman’s Office, Public Defense, Community Councils, etc…) in such a way that none assumes them effectively. The National Plan for the Comprehensive Protection of NNA is already 17 years past due .
This area has been characterized by “the inexistence of national public policies, official statistics, monitoring and evaluation systems, and databases with information on the affected population and the different institutions that work in the area; All of this is essential in the decision-making process and the elaboration of public policies” ( Rodríguez and López, 2009 ).
- It is false that the LOPNNA “pimps” children and adolescents and promotes impunity : this law establishes a criminal liability system for adolescents and a series of protection and containment measures for boys and girls involved in violent acts. For more details on this matter, listen to Gloria Perdomo, Director of the Light and Life Foundation and Defender of Children, in this interview: https://soundcloud.com/6j86-producciones/ser-nino-en-venezuela-1
- About the specific case:
- Has anyone exposed the other version of the story? Children and adolescents have the right to tell their story (arts. 67 and 80 LOPNNA), however, no one has worried or dealt with it until now. In networks and in a few articles on the subject, a version circulates according to which the victims of the homicide tried to sexually abuse their perpetrators. Why is the hegemonic communication matrix on the motive for these homicides robbery and not a disproportionate reaction to an alleged sexual abuse?
If the girl victims of the massacre in Guatemala had denounced the abuses to which they were subjected, would they have obtained the attention of public opinion? Would the media and institutions have supported their version before that of the officials in charge of their care ?
- How many similar cases are known? Is this case common or is it exceptional? In statistical terms, is it characteristic of the security problems that we currently suffer in the country?
The available data tells us that at least 90% of homicides in Venezuela are the result of the use of firearms (CICPC), that is, that homicides committed with bladed weapons represent less than 10% of the cases.
Regarding the ages of the perpetrators, in an investigation into homicides in the AMC that is in full swing, the cases in which adolescents are involved do not reach 6%, in no case has evidence been found of the participation of children. The same pattern was repeated in cases in which the homicide victims are officials of the State security forces ( Ávila, 2016:46 ).
- This tragic and shameful case is not representative of the citizen security problems that we suffer as a society .
- This issue must be discussed with specialists in the field and avoid giving space to ” opinionists “ who, far from contributing, contribute to misinformation and distortion of the understanding of what is happening, negatively impacting political decision-making.
Publicado originalmente en Provea.