Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crime and punishment and crime without punishment

Crime and punishment and crime without punishment

By Diego Arria

History shows instances of criminals who repent and receive their punishment, and others that never do. The best known example of the first group is probably the young Raskolnikov, the character of Fedor Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment. A student, who derived from a very humble family in imperial Russia and believed that he belonged to a privileged group of supermen that could be compared only to people like Napoleon. Affected by his megalomania, Raskolnikov murdered and robed a miserly old woman who was considered inconvenient for the higher society. He believed that the morality of the “ordinary” people did not relate to him because of his exceptionality.

But soon after committing the crime, he turned himself in to the justice department and came to realize that he was not such a morally superior man as he believed to be. He just belonged to the same sort of people like the old woman and he became tormented by his repentance. Dostoyevsky describes heartbreakingly how a guilty conscience of a criminal can become one of the most intense tortures that a soul of a human being can put up with.

The other group of criminals represents an extraordinary danger for the society in general, and consists of those who commit crimes but feel no guilt or worry in their conscience. Like the young Russians in the novel, who believed and acted as if they were supermen transcending moral and legal constraints.

Far from the Russian steppes, in Venezuela, a head of State, conducted a coup, while his regime created military gangs as its main instrument of terror. Let's see why. In February 1992, Chavez attempted a coup in the country that caused the deaths of more than one hundred people and he almost killed Carlos Andrés Pérez, who was the President at the time, and also his wife and daughters. Their residence was attacked with mortars. These were orders from Chavez, although for now he still remains at large.

On April 11, 2002 the same person, now the President, frightened by a demonstration of unprecedented peaceful men, women and children, ordered to use tanks to repress them. The members of the High Command Military knew the criminal implications and the responsibility of the use of tanks against unarmed civilians, who relinquished any violence. But that day 19 people died at the hands of snipers and armed gangs linked to the top official.

The Venezuelan regime, with absolute control over the Judiciary did not punish the offenders, but turned these criminals into victims and those who tried to prevent the deaths into criminals. It was a perverse historical fraud and an attempt to create a false belief that the demonstrations were a coup, which never existed.

When the Venezuelans recover justice, a public denunciation of the February 1992 coup will take place through the words of Chavez’s fellow, Commander Francisco Arias Cardenas, and this will be heard in domestic and international courts: "We are facing a murderer, Hugo Chávez, author and intellectual leader of this band of criminals who ordered the snipers to fire on protesting crowds.The President, who is a murderer, spotted with the blood of the Venezuelans" as he said on April 11, 2002.

Raskolnikov gave himself up to justice without a need to be reported. Unlike Hugo Chávez, also a megalomaniac, convinced that the dead and the damned belong to the group of ordinary people not like him, who believes to be a superman comparable only with Simon Bolivar, without legal or moral obligations to surrender to justice. It’s obvious he is not afraid. It is his pleasure, but sooner than later justice will take care of him.

Maru Angarita
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