Victor Ugas, a reporter abducted with Caro, was released after 28 days of being taken by chavismo. Little information has come out. For now, we just know that he’s been ordered to keep his mouth shut by a judge.
Gilber Caro’s attorney just announced that she was finally able to see him, that he’s fine, and feeling strong.
Not only the Rule of Law, but words and reality itself are distorted by dictatorships; logic is attacked. People don’t just disappear, they are disappeared. Military rule violates language and “disappearance” becomes a verb, an ominous euphemism for horror, death, and state violence.
I spoke on the phone with Gilber last year at the beginning of December. He told me he was being threatened; chavismo was trying to extort him into voting against Juan Guaidó and, once again, they waved his past as a way of blackmail. I’ve known Gilber for over ten years and I know for a fact that his conversion from a life of crime to one of faith and civil service is genuine. I know that, during his time in jail, he was a victim of the many ways a corrupt system tries to extort prisoners.
This is a man who could have escaped jail, yet took the opportunity to show that he was determined to live an honest life, regardless of the costs. He survived those trials and was released in 2001. Since then, he overcame the stigma of being an ex-convict, studied Law at the Universidad Santa María, worked in various NGOs and became an active politician. In 2015, he was elected alternate deputy in the National Assembly.
Ironically, his life of crime and his life of fighting for social justice have led to the same place: a sad but revealing truth about modern Venezuela. When we last spoke, he assured me that he was solid in his convictions. I asked him to please take care.
Since then, scandals of deputies bought out, and others turning up in emergency rooms have been revealed. The dictatorship’s political strategy is persecution, blackmail, and plunder. Its ideological arguments amount to phone calls offering bags of money and shots to the head
Gilber was also “disappeared,” mind you, in April of 2019 for three weeks, before the general prosecutor said he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the events of April 30 (Caro was actually detained four days before the uprising). He was freed on June 17th, following negotiations by the Boston Group, hours before the arrival of Michelle Bachelet and the UN’s Human Rights High Commission.
But that wasn’t the first time Gilber had been “disappeared.” The first time he was taken by the government without news of his whereabouts was in January 2017.
That time, four months passed before he was presented before a military court, parliamentary immunity be damned. He spent more than a year in jail, isolated in a cell not big enough to fit his body lying down, enduring hunger and thirst. I spoke to him weeks after his release and he told me it was rough, but he was convinced as ever of the need for change.
Ironically, his life of crime and his life of fighting for social justice have led to the same place: a sad but revealing truth about modern Venezuela.
Gilber Caro’s struggle is a clear contrast to the situation of the Clap deputies, and all of those who sold out. Even though chavismo forces itself upon the country, its battle for legitimacy is long lost. Beyond the fight to fulfill the punctured legal protocols, there are brave men and women resisting on all fronts.
I tip my hat to Gilber’s endurance, and his capacity to remain unbowed. Three decades ago, Caro led a life of crime, but he has become one of the few, the happy few, to go through hell and come out better people. His days of resistance, as Henry V states in Shakespeare’s play, will not only make those that sold out bow their heads in shame, but also gentle his condition.