Such was the signature in the communiqués of a group of Venezuelan guerrillas sentenced to a long prison sentence by the military courts. My memory does not specify the time when this happened, but it was a time when taking up arms had fallen into disuse in my country. The late seventies, maybe; in any case, long before the bloody fiasco that launched Hugo Chávez into public life.
The prisoners I am talking about were hardened and very stubborn people, raised since the previous decade. They affirmed that nothing would change their opinion regarding the forms of struggle because violence is the midwife of history and elections are always a bourgeois farce. The fate of Salvador Allende proved it. There would be time to prove his point. Meanwhile, they were serving a sentence in a military prison, a building from the 18th century.
A score of revolutionaries managed to dig a tunnel and escape. Due to a miscalculation, the exit mouth of the tunnel opened in the living room of a friend of mine, Víctor Cuica, a star saxophonist in our nightlife. Víctor was the founder of the “Juan Sebastián Bar”, famous Mecca of jazz in the southern Caribbean. It was what is said fixture of the local music scene. There was no one in Caracas who did not know him.
Víctor, who died in 2020, said that the fugitives recognized him as they rushed out of the tunnel. Everyone had a look of “what a pleasant surprise, I didn’t know we were neighbors, the first time I see you in daylight, I would like to stay and chat for a while, Vic, but you see…”.
The fugitives did not take long to organize an urban guerrilla cell that, shortly, carried out the kidnapping of a senior gringo executive of a transnational corporation. That prisoner escape was highly commented, among other things, because the only detainee, and for a long time, was my friend, the saxophonist. What came after the kidnapping would make for a political-criminal series to laugh at Borgen Y The Money Heist.
The parent company of the transnational refused to pay the ransom for a long time, I think because it did not trust the faith of life spread by the kidnappers. The gang did not lose their heads, they armed themselves with patience and what they did then would provide the first “plot twist” of the series: they went, so to speak, to the secondary market. They sought partners for the costly undertaking of permanently “moving” the captive.
The discounted endorsement of hostages from a large cartel, requesting advances against a ransom still to be collected, is a current account operation in the Latin American extortion industry. What was unique about this case was that the partners that those from the tunnel sought were not only several left-wing organizations—small, legalized but with an armed arm—but also well-established hunters of oil rent: investment bankers. Medium, if you will, but enough.
Like any bank, these pioneers financed electoral campaigns. One of them got a kidnapping ringleader out of jail who was later elected to parliament in 1978, wrote a best seller national and died last year, octogenarian, in his bed.
I think about cases like this and I tell myself that in the proposal for the series that has to be presented, for example, to a Turkish production company, it would be convenient to start by saying “the action takes place in the current times, in a dysfunctional and very corrupt Latin American democracy. A country with a happy population, with a frenetic separation of powers and where—something inexplicable but central to the script—political rights are scrupulously respected.”
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