In Germany, fear is prostitution’s constant companion

sex-harrassment

Remember how, back in 2002, progressives from all over the world heralded Germany’s suddenly liberalized prostitution laws? Finally, they said — the “oldest profession” would become a job just like any other! Unionization! Freedom of sexual expression! Workers’ rights for sex workers! Street prostitution will become a thing of the past! Everyone will work independently indoors, where it’s safe! And on and on.

Well, that hasn’t happened. What happened instead is that this well-intended but badly flawed legislation came together with the neocapitalism of Eastern Europe in a perfect storm of open borders, organized crime, and near-total impunity. So what effect has all of that had? The Frankfurter Rundschau news team went on the streets, and what the women there have to say may shock you…

The well-tended, good-looking woman — let’s call her Anna* — knows whereof she speaks. “Ever since the East Bloc arrived, prices are kaputt. Lots of johns are really shameless. Everything’s turned around: once, the ladies named their price. Today, the men tell them what they’ll give. And if I say ‘I won’t do it for 15 euros, and definitely not without a condom’, then he’ll keep on driving. And later he’ll honk going by, to show me that he found a Bulgarian or a Romanian who will do what he wants.”

Anna is prostituting. For 25 years, as she herself says. It’s cold this evening on the street corner of the Theodor-Heuss-Allee in Frankfurt. Anna stands there in an open down jacket, with a low neckline and high boots. It all comes bubbling out of her: “Ever since I started, lots of things have gotten worse. Respect is gone. But it’s all right for me, I have lots of regulars and don’t have to hop into every car. In the end, you just don’t want to do everything.”

Not everyone radiates so much self-assurance. 100 metres away is Anna’s transsexual colleague, Mia*, who’s happy just to have 50 euros in her pocket at the end of the night. “For having sex twice.” Five years earlier, she used to make several hundred euros a night, says the Bulgarian with the big, sad eyes. She earns a little extra with table-dancing. Otherwise, she has to stand on the curb.

“Earning good money fast” — you can still do that, says pretty young Dana*, on the other hand. Seven months ago, she quit her job as head salesclerk in a supermarket in Bulgaria — “badly paid 12-hour days”. Today she earns a lot more (“25 euros for 15 minutes”) and is, so she says, content. If only she weren’t afraid. Above all, of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

Dana keeps hearing from the men that they’re married, after all, and she looks quite healthy. “Sometimes they agree when I insist on a condom. And then suddenly, in the middle of sex, they yank the rubber off.” Would a condom requirement help her? Dana smiles bitterly: “Only a few Germans would stick to that, the ones that follow rules. My other customers, probably not.” With those, she often senses their disdain, finds them aggressive.

Dana, who works for her “boyfriend”, also fears the other pimps. “They’ll pull women into their cars, beat them up, and drag them off to someplace. Last year, a woman disappeared from here.” All the same, there’s no question for her of working in a bordello, where it would be less dangerous. She shakes her head energetically. She feels “protected” by her boyfriend, who always waits on one of the side streets. “He’d be here in three to five minutes.” But above all, what she earns matters to her. “In a bordello, the clients pay less.”

Only a few women are still working the streets of Frankfurt, maybe about 30. In any case, fewer than 50, according to chief criminal inspector Jürgen Benz. In total, some 1200 to 1400 prostitutes are offering their services in the city. Benz and his colleagues in the K62 Task Force against human trafficking in the Frankfurt Police Presidium are particularly busy in the brothels. There are 18 of those in Frankfurt, with 750 rooms in all.

Above all, the “East Bloc”, as Anna calls it, has arrived: Since the eastward expansion of the EU in 2007, Bulgarian and Romanian women have been flooding the German sex market. In the brothels of Frankfurt, some 90 percent of the women are Eastern Europeans — poverty prostitutes, who unlike Dana have never had a job they could give up. Uneducated — many can’t even read or write — and often experienced in violence. They come from slums, from conditions that no one here can imagine. And they land in circumstances that no one here would wish.

Brutally and unscrupulously, the pimps take advantage of the precarious situation of the mostly very young migrant women, taking a majority of their already meagre income. “With a woman, a perp can earn 70,000 euros a year,” Jürgen Benz estimates. The brothel owners also cash in big-time; the “business landlords” charge 125 euros per day. “A woman has to sleep with 200 men a month — just for the rent”, says Benz. And even though the officer, who used to work in narcotics, isn’t easily shocked, in his sober words there is an ominous tone: these figures scare even him. “A woman who is out sick for one week would be 1000 euros in debt after that week,” Benz continues. That’s why there’s the great danger that she will continue.

That many prostitutes are “in a pitiable state of health”, Elvira Niesner also emphasizes. She’s the head of the group “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” (FIM, by its German initials). In Frankfurt, the organization has its offices near the red-light district; from there, in the evenings, street workers fan out to provide women on the streets and in the brothels with condoms, to advise them, and to offer help. The social workers speak the women’s languages, even if they can’t speak German despite years in country.

Niesner describes the changes in the sex market as dramatic also, particularly the degree of exploitation, foreign control, and violence. “Many women don’t even know in which city they currently find themselves,” says the sociologist and shakes her head, as if she herself can’t believe it. Pimps cart the young women from one brothel to the next, in order to offer the johns variety — “Fresh meat”, they call it in the trade. Thus isolated, the women are easier to exploit. “They don’t know that prostitution is legal in Germany, and that they can work without pimps.”

Most Eastern European women aren’t forced prostitutes, in the sense that human traffickers have lured them from a good job in housekeeping or gastronomy with false promises. Not only the former chief supermarket clerk, Dana, has made a conscious choice. As social workers keep reporting, the women knew that they would be working as prostitutes in Germany. However, the boundary between free choice and compulsion is fluid. Because the perps have deliberately left unclear what actually awaits them: a job that will physically and psychically wear them out. And the way out of this destructive dead-end street is blocked off. Because the pimps won’t let them go, because they’re in the debt trap, and above all, because they have no alternatives.

How different is the picture of sex work which the representatives of the prostitutes’ unions paint, the ones who often set the tone in public debate. To work on one’s own terms, to decide for oneself whom to service and how. A lucrative profession, which one can confidently proclaim. One might suspect that this picture is too rosy. But in fact, the daily routine in a nudist “oasis”, a flat or an escort service is a completely different reality. A high priced-part of the sex market. Or — depending on your viewpoint — an antisocial subculture. And pretty please keep politics out of it, say the “whores’ unions”, who dread fresh interference from the prostitute protection law being tabled in Berlin. That would be understandable, if they did not hand-wave away human trafficking, forced prostitution and exploitation in the same breath.

On the other hand, the women of FIM emphasize that “the biggest group are the poverty prostitutes”. They hail the decision of politicians to concern themselves more with the shabbier side of reality. FIM is hoping that the prostitute-protection law will give a boost to protection for victims. Niesner supports, for example, the planned requirement for health checks, which are under heavy dispute. Critics speak of stigmatization. FIM’s women, on the other hand, see more of a chance to reach the sealed-off women and build contacts based on trust. But: “Health checks must be tied in with consultations with qualified social workers, with low thresholds, in the women’s native tongue, and personal. It’s all about strengthening the women.”

Such structures are lacking in many places at the moment. And they will still be lacking, when the law maybe kicks in next year. But Niesner harbors the hope that they will be brought about under pressure of the law.

And what do the women in the Theodor-Heuss-Allee say? Would they find mandatory counselling discriminatory? There are no clear answers to that question. But it’s plain to see that the street workers are welcome among the prostitutes, even when they come, as on this cold March evening, with two politicians and two journalists in tow. Federal representatives Michael Brand (CDU) and Kordula Schulz-Asche (Greens) tell them again and again that they are working on a new law for the trade, and for that reason want to know, how politics can best be of help. Puzzled faces, embarrassed smiles, shrugging shoulders — I can’t be helped, seems to be the message. “A different job,” says Ilona* (41), eventually. But she can only dream about that. The mother of three children, from Hungary, is drug-addicted and homeless.

“Do you regret your decision to come to Germany?” asks Brand of former supermarket clerk Dana. Anger flashes up in her eyes: “I’m not ashamed of what I do,” she replies, defiantly. That’s not how the question was meant. It’s more about finding out whether it’s true that most prostitutes don’t want to exit. In fact, the social workers of FIM have made exactly this finding. Only a few Latinas have exited lately. Encarni Ramírez Vega, who looks after this group, describes them as “self-aware pros” who didn’t want to go along with bargain-basement prices. The others, to her, are captives of a destructive lack of perspective.

Even the fight against human trafficking is in trouble. The number of legal cases has been declining for three years, but human trafficking hasn’t. It used to be that women would seek police protection. “Nowadays they only rarely come to us,” said police commissioner Benz. “We have to go to them.” And repeatedly, so that they lose their fear of the police and learn to trust. Only that way would there be a chance that they could testify against their tormentors. “No testimony, no trial.”

The commissioner is, for that reason, in favor of legislation requiring registration for prostitutes. “Because whenever I speak with a woman who could be the victim of a crime, then she’s already not there anymore the next day. Where the pimps have brought her, I can’t find out without mandatory registration.”

This proceeding, however, is particularly controversial. It is a delicate matter of personal privacy, and many prostitutes oppose it as discriminatory. Above all women in rural regions fear for their anonymity, and dread a “forced outing”. Anna is afraid that her information could end up in the wrong hands, maybe even those of a client. That couldn’t be very possible. But Anna holds firm: “Later one of them will be at my door, harassing me. No, what I’m doing here must remain discreet.”

Translation mine; * denotes a name changed to protect privacy.

So much for the sex-workers’ paradise of liberalization. Not only has it not cleared the streets of streetwalkers, it hasn’t empowered them one whit. It hasn’t even empowered those in the “safety” of the brothels — a relative term, that “safety”, given that cheap flat-rate sex is the new normal, and room rates are extortionate, and there is no guarantee that brothel keepers will protect anything but their own bottom line. The girls get trucked in from all over, and trucked around until they don’t even know where they are anymore, much less how to speak a word of German beyond what it takes to reel off a menu of acts and (low, flat) rates per.

But hey, at least the johns don’t have to duck their heads anymore when they walk in, eh? Their part of the whole exchange, at any rate, is now loud and proud. That of the ladies, not so much. As even Anna, the most self-confident of them says, she fears the johns. All the girls fear those guys. They’ve gotten cocky, and they are spoiled for choice, thanks to the glut of desperate, impoverished girls from Eastern Europe. And some of those even end up on the street, where it’s not only cheaper to buy one, it’s also dead easy to just yoink one into a car, drive off to someplace where no one can see or hear, and do whatever. For a paltry few euros, anything goes…even without condoms, a fact shamelessly advertised by flat-rate brothels all over Germany.

And of course, no health checks, either. A perfect breeding ground for every STD under the Sun, and probably quite a few we haven’t yet heard of. The rationalizations abound: “I’m married, and you don’t look sick.” That’s as good as a condom, isn’t it? And if the long-suffering wife does end up with a case of the clap, you can always pretend it’s the fault of some public toilet seat, even though that is, in fact, never the case. Prophylaxis: what’s that? And why should it matter?

And if a girl goes missing…well, who’s going to notice or care? As long as she’s not registered, and doesn’t want to be, the johns can literally get away with murder.

And that’s not even counting the pimps. You know, those Eastern European mafiosi who truck the girls in, and around and around until they’re dizzy with disorientation, so that the johns can have the eternal illusion that they’re getting fresh meat, and so no girl sticks around in any one place long enough to form a relationship with a potentially sympathetic client…much less local social workers or the police. Who are effectively hamstrung when it comes to helping or protecting them, as it currently stands, and probably will continue to be when the new law passes. Whenever that is.

Yeah, a hell of an improvement that 2002 law has been. And wow, such empowerment for the prostituted. Yay, sex capitalism.

Crappy Women’s Day, ladies. Here, have a carnation.

In lieu of my usual Music for a Sunday feature, I’m just going to leave this here:

Aren’t those the best lyrics? And the most badass sax riffs, too?

Anyhow. Here’s what women in another part of the world are working at. Specifically, in Germany. Mira Sigel has some hard words about what work ISN’T getting done:

“Happy Women’s Day!” my porn-watching neighbor yelled at me this morning, he who otherwise likes to say that women can’t parallel-park. That he himself hasn’t had a driver’s licence for years doesn’t keep him from grinning snarkily. “Only on March 8: Special offer for women” — my e-mail box is full of messages like that. The sexist shitpile of the Left Party won’t stop handing out carnations to unsuspecting women this year, instead of troubling itself about the deeply misogynistic behavior of its members and representatives. The daily newspaper has a special Women’s Day edition — letting dominatrices tell about their great jobs and invite others to come and “play the whore” while the laughable 30% quota for female employment rings the death-knell of western civilization for many. My boss gives out yellow roses every Women’s Day to his female employees, but doesn’t consider it necessary to pay them the same wages as their male colleagues, much less promote them to leadership positions.

Women’s Day serves as a reminder to all parties, unions and organization do something for women once in a while. A little feminism just looks good nowadays — and can you believe it, women are now allowed to earn their own money and drive cars, so there’s a corresponding marketing strategy. “Women, today it’s all about you,” is the message, which also makes it clear that during the rest of the year it’s not about us anymore. On Women’s Day 2014, feminists were shoved around, yelled at, and sprayed with paint by so-called “sex workers”, johns, and male members of the Pirate Party. Despite more calls for security this year, the stone-cold reply was that there are many forms of violence. Motto: It’s your own fault, you RadFems.

97 percent of board members in Europe are men. Party leader Volker Kauder said in November that female quotas would remain the same, and that family minister Manuela Schwesig could forget about pay equity, and that it was only thinkable for businesses with more than 500 employees. Women earn on average 22% less than their male colleagues; their pensions are 60% lower than those of men thanks to maternity leave and part-time work. That’s how inequality gets cemented — meaning that our own daughters still have to fight for fair pay, even though women still do the lion’s share of the child-care work. Since 2014 there’s a discriminatory caregiver law, that together with an extremely “father-friendly” arrangement of youth offices and judges sees to it that children can even be taken with police force to their fathers, never mind if he beat their mother or otherwise terrorized her. Whereas when it comes to child support, or a fairer tax plan for single mothers, we see just as little action as with trial judges handing down a proper sentence to rapists. The morning-after pill is now prescription-free for German women, but only because the EU has taken it to heart. One in three German women has experienced domestic or sexual violence, but women’s shelters are constantly being closed or charging fees of the victims. The perpetrators have little to fear.

The female portion of city and municipal councils is barely 23%, while 97% of all single-custody parents are women. Germany is “Europe’s bordello”, where women are quite legally auctioned off as wares. The new prostitution law won’t change much there, either.

All of this is no coincidence. And it’s not the fault of women, with their “bad” choices in careers, partners or clothing, but that of the mighty institutions of patriarchy. In a society where the most important decisions are still being made by men, there can be no equality for women. So you can shove your well-wishes, your carnations and your special Women’s Day offers up your ass. In a patriarchal society, all of this is a slap in the face of every woman on Women’s Day. Instead, make this world a fairer place for women. Don’t go to prostitutes, don’t hit or rape women, don’t watch any more porn, don’t harass women on the street anymore, and pay women fairly. Then we won’t need any more Women’s Day.

Translation mine.

If we’re not equal yet, it’s certainly not for lack of effort on the part of women. We’ve been “leaning in” until our noses are buried in the dirt, only to have more of it rubbed in our faces by the Menz Rightzers, the latest and “greatest” crop of anti-human-rights activists to be spawned by good ol’ Papa Chauvin. Yay! Just in time for our so-called day.

And now we’re being sold the “agency” lie by the pimp lobby, who claim that peddling our asses for cash is somehow sexually liberating and even “empowering”. Really? If that were true, this world would be run by gigolos, because think about it — who’s more power-hungry (and sex-“positive”) than men?

Porn hasn’t liberated women’s sexuality; it’s just feeding us instructions as to how to satisfy the male gaze better. We don’t even know what our own sexuality looks like anymore, because we’ve never been free of imagery foisted on us by people who don’t care about our pleasure or our satisfaction. Instead, we’re being told that servicing men according to their specs is “a job like any other”. Well, why not? We’re already getting fucked over by capitalism; might as well make it literal, eh ladies?

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: When it comes to store-bought sex, women who sell it are not the empowered party. They never have been. They have always been dependent on the men who pay for the privilege, and those men call the shots, always. Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.

I note in passing that there are still precious few women out there even contemplating buying sex. “Equality” on those terms is unthinkable for us. Partly because we can’t fucking afford it, yes — but much more the fact that we don’t see ourselves as entitled to it. We don’t lack for libido, that much I’m sure of. No, what we lack is the political power to compel men to service us, as well as the bullshit belief that it’s okay for us to do that in the first place. The fact that the converse is not true for the other side, even among men who call themselves leftists, ought to be proof enough that capitalist patriarchy is not dead, that “girls” don’t rule the world even though we do the vast majority of its grunt-work, and that we sure as hell need more than just one day a year, ostensibly dedicated to women, to get it right. Every day should be women’s day, uncapitalized, everywhere on Earth.

“Fifty Shades of Shit”: A German feminist’s heretical thoughts

no-sexual-violence

“No to the eroticization of sexual violence! Boycott Fifty Shades of Grey.”

A sentiment I can heartily get behind. This article from Mira Sigel, of the German radical-anarcho-socialist-feminist blog, Die Störenfriedas, basically says it all for me, too:

It’s February 2015 in Germany, and as a feminist, one wants to pull the covers over one’s head and wait till summer so that the sexist shitcrap that’s currently washing over us from TV and movie screens will at least be made tolerable by sunshine and ice cream.

On Thursday, in Berlin, there was the world premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey. The film version of the book, which is a — yawwwwwn — love story about an emotionally disturbed, violently inclined, rich and dominant man and a woman inferior to him in every way, is creating buzz around the world. There’s talk of “eroticism” and “lust”, and even Germany’s top-ranking feminists are applauding approval, because it has something to do with women’s liberation. That’s right: Getting your ass paddled or playing the choking game is just as sexually liberating as playing the prostitute in a bordello. The eroticization of violence and exploitation is a wonderful instrument of oppression that the patriarchy has just begun to discover. We now think of Playboy Bunnies as kindergartners, and the nonsense of Sex and the City, which for ten years was meant to prepare us for a life as constantly horny luxury queens.

But let’s go on. What’s really upsetting about the story is not that Anastasia sets out to finally find the limits of her sexuality and to cross them, but that she gets “seduced” by a rich, smart, and — naturally — “mysterious” man. What exactly is self-determined about that? It’s the age-old tale of King Bluebeard. Didn’t you know? Well, then, read up. A patriarchal fairytale par excellence. She naturally somehow “senses” that Christian Grey needs emotional rescuing, because hey, why else are we women here, with our bodies, our psyches, and our whole lives, to take care that it goes better for men, insofar as they can take it all out on us? Anastasia isn’t into S/M. She lets him do it to her, because she thinks she’ll get access to Christian’s disturbed emotional world this way. She realizes that he’s overstepping her boundaries, and still keeps going on. As well, she was a virgin before she met him, and has nothing, literally nothing, to compare his sexual experiences to.

Christian likes to hit women because his bad mama neglected him and was also a drug-addicted prostitute. Naturally, the whole wide world of women has nothing but understanding for that, and willingly sticks out its butt, so that the poor boy can take out his feelings on it. In turn we get to see him constantly in the film with his bare chicken breast. Because Anastasia takes his boundary-crossings so self-sacrificingly, eventually he does let his guard down a bit — and makes her his princess. One might laugh about that, because it’s so silly. In reality, though, it’s dangerous. Because it idealize a toxic view of relationships, in which women consequently deny their own needs and boundaries so that they’ll be better off. Women become clumsy twits, who fall so far under the influence of an experienced man’s sexual wishes that they become willing partners for damaging relations. It’s called grooming.

At the Berlin premiere, minors sashayed around with leather whips and other paraphernalia that they presumably consider sexy — because everyone tells them that sexuality is the thing of the hour. A chance to find out for themselves what they like, and to look for a corresponding partner, though, is something that neither our society nor Germany’s leading feminist group will concede to them.

Even the fact that there are also submissive men is no argument. What turns them on is subservience. The fact that a WOMAN is debasing them. Not a man. A woman. A woman who, however, is socially far beneath them. Therein lies the arousal — that is, it comes out of a deeply sexist and misogynous world-view. Sexuality is always to be viewed in the context of social reality. Why else have chambermaids been in the Top Ten list of male sex fantasies for centuries? Why do colonialist world-views express sexual desire in terms of white women and black men, and vice versa? Why are pornos full of racist stereotypes? Why is the horny secretary or nurse a fantasy that gets passed down from generation to generation? Why not a female professor or politician? Because female power — real female power — doesn’t stand for the male dominance of sexuality in a patriarchal society.

Soon, as well, we’ll see the next installment of Germany’s Next Top Model. Heidi ate burgers, döner and sausages in order to shut up the thinness critics. “I’ve been watching the show for ten years,” shrieks an 18-year-old hopeful. “It’s always been my dream to take part.”

Why doesn’t everyone wake up? Shouldn’t girls dream of high-school graduation, university, science, creative heights and successes, instead of making monkeys of themselves with Heidi & Co.?

Society shows young women their place. Either as sex toys for male power fantasies, or as skinny models without dignity.

Hopefully it will be summer soon.

Translation mine.

Full disclosure: I’m not a kinkster. I’m not even remotely curious, having read enough already to know quite well what it’s all about. I have no desire to try it for myself; what I’ve read and seen doesn’t resonate with me — at least, not in a titillating way. I will admit to feeling disturbed by a lot of it, though, and for the very reasons Sigel outlines so succinctly here. The overwhelming majority of it plays to the age-old male power fantasy of “owning” a woman. Even the reversed situation derives its power mainly from the temporary inversion of the accepted order of things. But it doesn’t question that order, nor does it seek to subvert it in the real world. What happens in the dungeon, stays in the dungeon. And anyway, even the most submissive of male subs has his safeword, meaning the action stops when he orders it to. So in the end, even he still has power — even if his male privilege is momentarily (and voluntarily) doffed. The same cannot be said for female subs, whose submission is socially encoded as “normal”.

Worse, the ugliest aspects of the male-dominant power dynamic are so egregious in Fifty Shades that even the most ardent kinksters feel the need to dissociate from the franchise. I may not share their proclivities, but I don’t blame them a bit. They say they don’t stand for Christian’s blatantly illegal moves to control Anastasia, for stalking, for isolation, for abuse, and for the actual, slave-master ownership of a person, right down to a ludicrous, legally unenforceable “contract”. I would hope not! Who’d want to be associated with something so conservative, so un-edgy, so damn OLD? Because really, this is indentured servitude, when you get right down to it; good old-fashioned indentured servitude with a side order of medieval torture.

And yet, heterosexual kink* does partake of the same old dynamics, and that’s what makes it so primal and titillating to some, and fraught — and frankly, ripe for abuse. The kink community has always had its Christians, out to exploit a ready and willing pool of inexperienced young women. And every female sub has found herself at least once, it seems, in Anastasia’s unenviable shoes, being sexually assaulted and having her bounds blatantly overstepped by a dom who refuses to hear NO. And has had to warn others away from that freak. Who is not, unfortunately, that much of a freak.

Sometimes, the only thing that separates a kinky abuser from a garden-variety one is the leather costumery. And even Christian, in his “kinky” mode, is not that much of a one for the leather gear. He can play out his “master” role just as well in banker’s grey flannels. (But hey, at least we get to see him shirtless and sweaty. Whoopee!)

The disturbing thing about Fifty Shades is not the boring-ass sex (which has been described in detail elsewhere, and if you want to read about it, just google) — it’s the mental abuse. And the most abusive thing is that it teaches girls that if they submit enough, they’ll be rewarded with the prince and a tiara and, presumably, a whole stable full of sparkly pink Pegacorns with mauve manes and tails, who piss perfume, fart rainbows, and poop marshmallows, and heal all hurts with the magical light of their crystal horns. That sacrificing themselves and having no desires of their own is the way to a man’s heart, and that they’ll cure him of all his demons that way.

In real life, as has been often pointed out, that way leads straight to the women’s shelter, and often the morgue.

Abusive men aren’t for women to cure, and they don’t even want to be cured. They’re as hooked on their violence as a junkie on the needle. The power fantasy has been marketed to them, too, as a drug that they need to score and go on scoring in ever greater hits, for ever higher highs. The fact that they become numb to it eventually is never mentioned. They end up not in control, but in thrall. The fact that they end up in jail or dead in a grisly murder-suicide is the only logical outcome for that power dynamic. And it’s a fact that gets glossed over by the media time and again. When we do hear talk of a guy going to jail for beating his female partner to death, or of one who shoots first her (and/or their kids) before turning the gun on himself, it’s always couched in nonsense phrases about “senseless violence” that “no one could have predicted”.

In fact, the violence makes a lot of sense, and is dead simple to predict, given the dynamics of the patriarchal, capitalist world we live in. This “fantasy” is a big, money-making reality. Every little Joe Schmoe wants to be a Christian, on some level. With access to an Anastasia, who takes every slap, every punch, every rape, without complaint…just as she’s been taught.

Even the stuff you grow up thinking is so “subversive” and “transgressive” really isn’t. The Marquis de Sade? Hardly a libertarian “citizen” of revolutionary France, but an opportunist who took full, gory advantage of the old droit du seigneur. His perversions weren’t even particularly extreme for his day, at least insofar as literature went; there was already plenty of “blasphemous” spanky-spanky erotica kicking around even then. He didn’t invent a libertine tradition; he grew out of one like a fleur-de-lys from shit. Most of what he cut his teeth on was anticlerical, clandestinely published, and meant to shock with its childish defiance. And it shaped his tastes, without a doubt. His contemporaries were blasé about that. But what made him truly grotesque and ultimately a criminal in their eyes was not what he read and wrote, but what he actually did. To powerless underlings who had virtually no rights in pre-revolutionary France. This was no harmless fantasy of consensual role-play. His victims were predominantly young women in poverty and/or prostitution, who had no choice but to submit to whatever he meted out to them, even death. (Oh yes, did I mention that he was most likely a serial killer, one who pre-dated Jack the Ripper by about a century? Plus ça change…)

Even now, the “sadists” of BDSM are slow to wake up to the fact that their cherished fantasies are the products of some mighty banal evils. Not necessarily childhood abuse, or mommy/daddy issues (lots of kinksters have no history of those), but forces from the larger society writ small and personal, marked “private” and for individual sale only. Some, to their credit, are at least distancing themselves from the mad Marquis, recognizing that a man of the upper class, who poisoned, mutilated and flayed young peasant women without pity, is no role model. They stress safety, sanity, consensuality. They take it as a bounden duty to provide aftercare, and laudably tend to the wounds they inflict. They are seeking alternative terms for their kink, words that don’t hark back to droit du seigneur — at least not so blatantly. Bless them for trying. It’s just a pity that those same terms they stress so hard — safe, sane and consensual — are also being used by some, who are far less scrupulous, to gloss over the serious examination of kink’s background forces that is long overdue.

But that, too, is quite understandable, in light of the blinding obvious. People want to have their cake, and their fetishes too. What else is there to do on your own time in this god-awful crapitalist soul-eating world? Why kill the buzz of kinky “transgression” with structural analysis of its deep-down conservatism, with examination of class and privilege, with history, with the nasty inconvenient fact that the playing field is not finally level now, but still every bit as lumpy and unfairly tilted as it’s ever been, even without the old seigneurial class?

And whose rights are being perpetually eroded by all the bogus talk about “sexual freedom”, used by real sadists like Jian Ghomeshi to assert that their ugliest whims are nothing less than a basic human right?

Take a wild guess. Take several. Take all the time you need.

*Gay kink — more liberating/liberated than straight? Don’t bet on it. A lot of butch/femme and even racist and homophobic stereotypes are played out there, following problematic templates similar to those of the straights. After all, they all have the class consciousness of a heterosexist society as their biggest (and really, only) role model.

Prostitution ads: Lots of money in ‘em, but for whom?

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Spanish prostitution ads from a large daily paper, many offering “Greek” (anal) and “French” (oral) sex, right up front.

You know how we’re always hearing that print media are in trouble, that revenues are down, that they can’t afford quality journalism, fact-checking or even basic copy-editing anymore, yadda yadda yadda? Well, all this crying poor is downright crocodilian, considering how much ad revenue they still rake in, and how not a single newspaper magnate has actually starved to death (unlike the ink-stained wretches who work for them). These days, you’d be lucky to find a paper that isn’t totally eaten up with advertising, to the point where the ads crowd out the actual news stories. Advertising has taken over where subscriptions have left off. Stands to reason: who want to subscribe to a paper that only eats their money by the bushel and kills trees for mediocre reporting at best? One might as well start reading rolls of toilet paper for all the edification one gets. And in Spain, the ugliest side of that deplorable trend is a pornographically explicit exploitation of women, right on the pages of the most important dailies in the land:

Five of the eight national newspapers in Spain are getting rich from prostitution ads, as legislators are trying to crack down on them as illicit publicity.

The newspaper El País makes 112,000 euros a month via two pages of prostitution ads, according to the website Periodismo Digital. In particular, large ads in the paper cost 106.09 euros on weekdays, and 126.25 euros on weekends.

All parliamentary parties have agreed to modify the 1998 General Publicity Law with the objective of terming prostitution ads as “illicit publicity” and to protect minors from this type of advertising.

Illegal activities, among them prostitution, have boosted economic indices in various European lands. Thus, in 2014 alone, the United Kingdom saw a $15 million trade in drugs and prostitution, according to a report by the Centre for Economic and Business Studies.

Translation mine.

Well, at least the government is trying to do something about the problem, even if it is tackling the wrong end of the supply/demand seesaw. For those who want to cry about the “freedom of expression” of “sex workers”, be advised that it’s rare and unusual for a single independent prostitute to have enough cash lying around to cover the daily ad rates cited above. Considering that a lot of the ads in the picture tout services costing considerably less per, I think we’re looking at yet another human trafficking front. Those women would have to service a dozen men a day in order to keep their heads above water. At fifty euros a pop, that means servicing at least three johns a day just to meet the horrendous costs of their advertising, never food, housing, clothing and other basic necessities. That’s a lot of undesired sex; it’s a wonder more of them aren’t found dead from sheer exhaustion.

So it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that the ads are not for individual, independent women, but for “escort services” run by local mafias that ferry several girls to and from their calls simultaneously. It wouldn’t surprise me either to hear that those same pimps probably work those girls to death, so to speak, with as many men as call asking for them. Profiteers are funny that way.

And the newspaper owners? They’re laughing all the way to the bank, because in effect, they are pimping the pimps! 112,000 euros a month just for two measly pages of black-and-white ads? 1.34 million euros a year, just from those ads alone — and NOT counting newsstand sales to horny machos just looking for some cheap wank fodder? Cha-CHING!

And suddenly, it all becomes clear as unmuddied water why NOW Magazine, a free Toronto “alternative” paper you can pick up on virtually any street corner, is oh-so-bravely fighting for its “free-speech right” to continue carrying its tiny but plentiful (and therefore, lucrative) “business personal” ads in the back pages. After all, by doing that, they remain “independent”. They don’t need no stinkin’ subscribers. Who needs subscribers, who will only write irate letters to the editor holding one accountable for half-assed reporting, when one can finance one’s operations quite cushily on the backs of anonymous, sexually exploited women? In the end, money is money, no matter who has suffered what abuses in the making of it.

And in the case of prostitution advertising, that money adds up thick and fast. No wonder those who profit from it are so reluctant to give it up. Whatever next? Why, someone might even force those lazy pimps to do some actual journalism!

Who’s your diplomatic guest there, Maricori?

Well, well. What have we here? US “diplomats” exercising their diplomatic impunity (no, not a typo, nor a misspelling) at a legal hearing for a disgraced Venezuelan right-wing politician? Sure looks like it…

“We have questions: What were you doing there, who invited him, why was the embassy of the United States watching us and giving orders to a mouthpiece?” asked the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, upon revealing a video that shows how a functionary of the US government was there as an observer during the appearance of María Corina Machado before the Public Ministry on December 3.

“This is disrespect and interference in the affairs of this land, it is a provocation to the Venezuelan government, they think they can scare us,” commented Cabello during his weekly show, Con el Mazo Dando.

The revolutionary leader exhorted the US government to observe what is going on in Ferguson, “how their police are killing children because they don’t like the color of their skin. These are the godfathers the guarimberos have, we denounce them before the world for their interference…the US Embassy is the CIA, the Pentagon, the same who gave money to Gaby Arellano to finance violent actions,” Cabello added.

Translation mine.

I said diplomatic impunity, not immunity, for a reason. The reason is simply this: US diplomats have a long and storied history of interfering in the internal affairs of countries where they are stationed. Cabello isn’t talking out his ass here; he’s simply stating what every Latin American already knows, and what Venezuelans know all too well. Philip Agee made that clear decades ago when he revealed that the CIA operates out of US embassies and diplomatic installations all over the globe, influencing local politics by covertly “supporting” (really, bribing and influence-peddling) local political parties and NGOs. Not only are they immune from prosecution for what can only rightly be termed crimes, they will never be punished. After all, they’re just following orders…

Was Philip Goldberg punished for trying to balkanize Bolivia, by fomenting a coup aimed not only at unseating Evo Morales, but KILLING him? Nope. He just got reassigned. And promptly fell up when it was his time to get his sorry ass promoted. Once a Company man, always a Company man. The Company takes good care of its loyal employees.

And this unnamed flunkie, whoever he is? Betcha he’ll get a plummy new job too. Having his cover blown on Venezuelan national TV is just a feather in the ol’ fedora for him. They have so much chutzpah, they don’t even care that they’ve been caught red-handed feeding their local trolls, of which Maricori is just one of several. Look for him soon at a CIA station near you.

And it hardly serves to intimidate the Venezuelan government if the CIA’s men-in-country blatantly spy on legal hearings, either. After all, this hearing was a public matter, and was announced several days in advance in the local press. If they think they can paint Venezuelan justice as some kind of star chamber, lacking in transparency, they can think again. These proceedings are all aboveboard.

And in any case, the CIA and the US government have nothing to say about the way justice gets done in Venezuela. After all, it’s not their fucking backyard.

It never was.

Maricori charged with conspiracy to commit treason

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“Deputy colleagues, I propose that we eliminate ordinary parliamentary sessions because I don’t mix with ordinary people.” Well said, Maricori…because where you’re going, you won’t be mixing with anyone for a good long time.

Finally, after more than a decade of relentless putschist machinations, a poor little rich girl is getting her just deserts. Maricori, who was barred from her seat in the Venezuelan National Assembly earlier this year due to participation in yet another coup attempt against an elected head of state, is now facing some serious jail time…

On Wednesday, December 3, the Venezuelan Public Ministry charged former parliamentary deputy María Corina Machado Parisca, 47, with having ties to a plan to disturb the peace and assassinate the president of the republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros.

The charges were laid at the 20th national prosecutor’s office, under the charge Katherine Harington, located in the Public Ministry’s head office on Urdaneta Avenue.

During the proceeding, the prosecutor charged Machado with the crime of conspiracy, established and sanctioned in Article 132 of the Penal Code.

According to the article, “anyone who, within or outside of national territory, conspires to destroy the republican political form of the nation, shall be punished with imprisonment of eight to sixteen years.”

Furthermore, the same article explains that “the same penalty applies to any Venezuelan who solicits foreign intervention in the interior politics of Venezuela, or requests that it occur in order to disturb the peace of the Republic, or that before its functionaries, or through publications made in the foreign press, would incite civil war in the Republic or defame its president, or assail any diplomatic representative or consular functionaries of Venezuela, for reasons of their funtions, in the country in which the act is committed.”

With the charges, Machado acquires the rights contemplated in Article 49 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Article 125 of the Organic Penal Process Code, concerning due process and the rights of the accused.

For these same crimes there are also arrest orders out for Henrique Salas Römer, Diego Arria Salicetti, Ricardo Emilio Koesling Nava, Gustavo Terre Briceño, Pedro Mario Burelli Briceño, and Robert Alonso Bustillo.

The Public Ministry has been conducting this investigation since March of this year, following denunciations by several parliamentarians of the National Assembly and one particular, who called for the opening of an investigation to determine penal responsibilities with respect to a plan to assassinate the President.

Translation mine.

Notice, too, that there’s a veritable rogues’ gallery of other leading opposition figures listed here. All of them are well-known far-right putschists who have openly called for the murders of two elected presidents. They are long overdue for criminal charges and trial. But first, they are all long overdue for confiscation of their passports. After all, we wouldn’t want to see them end up in Bogotá or Miami, would we?

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 55

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“All set for the Caracas Music Festival!” (Note the old seven-star flag, being held upside down. The current Venezuelan flag has eight stars. What decade is this, again? With the oppos, it’s always yesterday once more. Shooby-doo-lang-lang.)

Good evening, world, and welcome to yet another fine edition of VenOpIronía. Today’s installment: How to commit auto-suicide. Sounds a bit redundant, yes? Yes, it is — but it’s the only word that fits when this happens:

Hooded protesters gathered on Sunday afternoon at Plaza Francia, Caracas, causing security forces to appear on site and suspend the 6th annual Reading Festival.

The protest was organized by United Active Youth of Venezuela (JAVU), who informed of their activity on Twitter.

The municipal police tried to prevent the demonstrators from blocking Francisco de Miranda Avenue and decided to temporarily suspend the Reading Festival in order to prevent that.

The demonstration was criticized by [opposition] personages such as Leonardo Padrón, Sumito Estevez and Ibéyise Pacheco, generating controversy on the social network.

Leonardo Padrón tweeted: “The protest at Plaza Altamira ruined the close of the Reading Festival, it’s an exercise in sovereign stupidity.”

Sumito “El Cheff” Estevez wrote: “Don’t try to paint the stupidity of these little kids forcing the closure of the fair a few minutes ago as heroic.

“Don’t go to the book fair at Altamira. They just advised me that the guarimberos closed it. Obviously, my two events are suspended.”

Ibéyise Pacheco wrote: “This protest today looks just like an ‘auto-suicide’.”

Clearly, these personages protested because their interests are under attack. They should have screamed to high heaven when 43 Venezuelans fell dead at the hands of these same guarimberos.

Translation mine.

I can’t imagine why a book fair located in an upscale, mostly opposition sector of Caracas could have brought these right-wing hoodlums out to “protest”. Maybe they were hoping to kill their own cultural stars and fob the blame off on Chavistas, as usual?

Oh, probably. Only problem is, they wound up alienating their own.

Suddenly, all the right-wing media figures are scrambling to distance themselves from JAVU. The same who were silent about JAVU’s violence in recent months, when 43 Venezuelans died, are now squealing like piggies because they got their little literary shindig shut down…by JAVU. It’s especially rich that Ibéyise Pacheco, who made something of a name for herself in 2002, calling for a future “without Chávez, of course” every night on the TV news right before the April coup went down, finally got a taste of her own putschist medicine.

And I…cannot stop laughing at the stupidity and ineptitude of them all.

Jian Ghomeshi: Kinky, or hinky?

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“Hey, ladies. Want a piece of this? Better lawyer up, because I am gonna FUCK YOU UP.”

No, Jian Ghomeshi didn’t actually say that to anyone, as far as I know. But that, in effect, is what he said this week, when he announced that he was suing the CBC for $55 million, following a sudden dismissal after 14 seemingly very successful years. And when he posted a 1,586-word Facebook status (yes, I counted) claiming he was just a poor innocent kinkster, being let go by a bunch of sex-negative fuddy-duddies who were afraid of, in his words, a “jilted ex-girlfriend and a freelance writer” wreaking havoc on their family-friendly brand.

On the surface of things, it was a masterstroke in terms of PR and pre-emptive strikes. However much Ghomeshi paid that “reputation recovery” firm for their services, it would appear to have paid off handsomely. The women in question (four of them, initially) were more afraid than ever to go public with their stories, much less press criminal charges. If it were a simple matter of “he said, she said”, then what he said carried the day. Even though there was way more than one she. Even though he’s officially out of the CBC, Jian Ghomeshi is by no means out of power and control.

And of course, right away, his fans only amplified the big noise he made. Reactions ranged from purblind defences of male privilege and sexual-satisfaction-at-any-cost, to an unbelievable amount of very ironic slut-shaming aimed at the women (eight of them now) who have accused him of assault, harassment and stalking. There’s even a Change.org petition (which I will neither link to nor endorse here) to sign for his reinstatement, and it’s racked up thousands of signatures in just a couple of days. Remember the Fukushima tsunami? This was, easily, the media equivalent. The sheer magnitude of his chutzpah, the unheard-of damages he’s seeking in this far-from-litigious land, the avalanche of slut-shaming, victim-blaming and fan outcry combined — well, who wouldn’t be intimidated by all that? And who wouldn’t be cowed into silence and submission?

If one reads between the lines, however, a very different picture emerges. And it is one that bears talking about, and criticizing, rather nicely. It may even spell a turning of the very tide he has tried to steer in his own favor.

For starters, it seems highly unlikely that the CBC would turn their most profitable radio cash cow out to pasture over a little thing like a naughty-naughty kinkster image. Ghomeshi’s radio show, Q, is not only popular north of the 49th Parallel, but also syndicated to some 180 US public-radio stations. At a time of deepening government cutbacks, CBC is keen to keep the cash flowing from wherever they can get it. Letting him go, lawsuit or no, is already costing them money, and that’s not something they’d countenance unless they had a compelling reason to fire him in the first place.

And private matters like a consensual BDSM lifestyle don’t, generally speaking, count as such. Q is, after all, a pop-culture show by and for mature adults. It’s not aimed at small children. The discussions featured on it are not “family” fare. Not everything that CBC does is strictly family-oriented, nor do Canadians expect it to be. We’re a liberal country, and CBC is a liberal network. So the idea that an overt-but-consensual kinkster would be fatal for CBC’s wholesome “family” image simply doesn’t wash.

Also, it’s hardly the first time a CBC radio host has had a brush with sexual controversy. In 2006, Sook-Yin Lee (of Definitely Not the Opera) appeared in the indie film Shortbus (whose focus, significantly, is open sexual experimentation), not only fully nude but masturbating. To an actual, unsimulated orgasm, yet. And while it drew a lot of outrage from the usual pearl-clutchy places, she was not let go. DNTO is still alive and well. After all, Sook-Yin’s erotic movie role had no bearing on her CBC radio antics, which were already pretty irreverent. And, more to the point, she also didn’t go around hitting and choking people, grabbing people’s asses, forcing them to supply sex, and making lewd propositions to unwilling ears.

All of which Jian Ghomeshi stands accused of doing, in and out of CBC’s downtown Toronto broadcast centre. The accusations against him are not about sex, but about violence.

Granted, no charges have been filed…yet. And there is no police investigation…yet. Nobody has even filed civil suit against him…yet.

And yet, and yet.

I’ve perused an eye-glazing number of comments on various websites breaking news of the story. And while the commenters are anonymous, a startling number of them are saying the same basic things: Jian Ghomeshi is arrogant as hell; as he’s grown older (he’s 47), he’s hit on on progressively younger women, the most recent ones a good 20 years his junior; he routinely oversteps the boundaries of propriety too; and yes, physical violence is a prominent part of that. And no, it’s NOT consensual.

A damning pattern, to be sure. And one easily dismissed as just hearsay, not legally actionable, and so forth. But it constitutes a groundswell of sorts, and one that he’ll be absolutely unable to control if it continues to grow, as indeed it has.

But anonymous scuttlebutt commenters aren’t the only ones with the power to undermine his carefully-wrought PR campaign. Sex educators — and specifically, ones specializing in kink issues — are also calling him out. And they’re pointing out the flaws in his argument with the meticulous communicative skills that are vital to their practices. After all, in kink, you have to use your words, safe and otherwise. People can get hurt badly if you don’t. Accidental deaths due to kinky activities are rare, but they have been known to happen. And, all too predictably, the kink community has also seen a number of straight-up abusers hiding behind the kink shield, and thus endangering real kinksters, especially women, in ways that go far beyond just a battering of the community’s reputation. This sort of thing is just what they don’t want, or need, to raise their profile. So whenever a well-known and reputable kinkster says “hell no, Jian’s not one of us, what he’s doing isn’t safe, sane, OR consensual”, you can be sure I’ll chalk up one more point against him on my mental scoreboard. (And yes, I’m keeping one.)

If it ever comes down to a civil lawsuit, or a criminal prosecution in this case, kink educators and writers should be called as expert witnesses. They are undoubtedly the best ones qualified to poke holes in Jian Ghomeshi’s assertions that his troublesome behavior was just a “lite” version of Fifty Shades of Grey. (And for the record, that god-awful trilogy isn’t about BDSM, it’s about physical and mental abuse. Actual kinksters have said as much. Which makes that reference just one more creepy little red flag among many.)

Legal experts like Brenda Cossman, too, are weighing in on where “consensual kinky sex” ends and actual, sexualized violence begins. And what they’re saying points, again, not to sex but to violence. Because in Canadian law, the more extreme forms of BDSM are not treated the same as the lighter stuff. If it can cause serious injury or death, it doesn’t matter if you gave consent beforehand; you have to be able to withdraw it at any time. And this, too, is important; in matters of life and limb, there’s no such thing as no-holds-barred. Some holds are legally barred for safety’s sake. It’s one thing to be open-minded about sexual experimentation; quite another to let one’s brains fall out. And when it comes to the risk of severe brain damage (or psychological harm equivalent thereto), the law errs on the side of barring that hold.

Our law also errs on the side of refusals being non-negotiable safewords, incidentally. No means no; you cannot legally negotiate no, don’t, and stop into meaning “no, don’t stop!” Because there is always a chance that a sub may accidentally forget to say “pomegranate”, “brambleberry”, “palomino”, or whatever. No is a perfectly good safeword to fall back on when you can’t remember anything else.

And if the word NO isn’t respected in kink, where negotiation is key to all interaction and even a weak demurral should spell an immediate halt, then that sets a bad precedent for the non-kinky world as well. Rape culture, which Jian Ghomeshi earlier this year reprehensibly characterized as a mere “debate”, is already so pervasive everywhere. There is no “debate” about it; it is a constant, horrid fact of women’s lives. Do we really need to have a former pop singer turned radio host blurring those lines out of all recognition with a whiny, windy, possibly scripted but definitely douchey manifesto, full of “nutty and slutty” dog-whistles?

Yeah, NO. Because that’s not kinky. That’s hinky.

And that creepy screed, like the rape culture that spawned it, is just downright stinky.

UPDATES:

Looks like Jian is strangely silent now that the first of his named accusers has bravely come forward to tell on him. He issued a terse tweet, but no new manifestos about “jilted girlfriends”. Meanwhile, the big long whine on his Facebook page is losing support by the hour. Cheese with that, Jian?

Also, there is a petition to show love and support for all the women in question. Several leading Canadian musicians have added their names to it; please consider doing so as well. There’s also this one, to Change.org, asking them to take the other ones supporting Jian Ghomeshi down.

Majunche’s not-so-excellent foreign adventure

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Ah, Keanu. Well might you ask. It turns out that the answer may be as simple as that old biblical saying: By their fruits shall ye know them.

So, by Majunche’s fruits, what can we know about him? Well, a certain vice-president of Venezuela has some ideas:

Venezuelan vice-president Elías Jaua denounced on Saturday that the upcoming trip by opposition politician Henrique Capriles Radonski to Spain and the United States is part of a “destabilization campaign” to “interrupt democracy” in Venezuela.

Jaua pointed out that Capriles plans to travel between October 20 and 24 to Spain and the US to meet with representatives of the far right to receive “outlines and financial oxygen to continue the destabilization campaign against Venezuelan democracy.”

Jaua also informed that president Nicolás Maduro has ordered the Legislative Council of the state of Miranda, of which Capriles is governor, to demand explanations of the opposition politician as to why he is absenting himself from his functions for five days.

Jaua, also a former foreign minister, called the claim that Capriles is the most moderate of the Venezuelan opposition a lie, recalling that the governor of Miranda plays a principal role in “a game to interrupt democracy and the plan to destabilize our homeland.”

He also deemed “absolutely irresponsible” the declarations of Capriles over a supposed cutback in the Miranda state budget due to the fact that the price of oil established in the national budget does not correspond to the real prices established.

In this context, Jaua emphasized that Capriles, a representative of the opposition “Democratic Unity Table” (MUD) party, uses such allegations as excuses for not dedicating himself to his duties, such as attending to culture, sport and education in Miranda.

Venezuelan authorities have accused the sectors of the Venezuelan opposition on repeated occasions, supported from abroad, of plotting to launch a coup d’état against the Maduro government.

Translation mine.

It’s already well known that Spain and the US (and the far fascist right of both) have active, vested interests in seeing Venezuelan democracy kicked to the curb. Both were, in fact, found actively backing the coup of ’02. Does anyone seriously believe that they’ve since changed their stripes?

If you do, you might be as big a doofus as Bill. Or Ted.

If you don’t, keep watching Majunche. Or this space, which will certainly keep its eyes trained on him.

Assassination: CONFIRMED.

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Venezuelan justice minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres talks about the Serra case on his radio show. See that bar across the screen? It reads “Assassination Confirmed”. Meaning, the murder of deputy Robert Serra and his girlfriend, María Herrera, was NOT part of a botched robbery or any “ordinary” violent crime. Here are the details, courtesy VTV:

The Popular Power minster for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Major-General Miguel Rodríguez Torres, announced that according to investigations of the killings of Robert Serra and María Herrera, there was detailed planning involved.

During his radio show, the minister explained that it was a planned crime. The Scientific, Criminal, and Penal Investigations Service (CICPC) has collected sufficient elements to make possible a reconstruction of the incident. The hypothesis includes the number of individuals involved, how they entered, and how they exited.

“What happened that day, without a doubt, was the doing of someone who wanted to end the life of this important young leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela,” Rodríguez Torres said.

He assured that “there had been a previous stakeout, in order to know exactly what was Robert Serra’s routine, and that of those who accompanied him.” Rodríguez Torres did not specify further details, in order not to alert the criminals.

He also ruled out robbery as a motive for the homicide: “We are 95% certain that they did not come to rob Robert Serra, but exclusively to kill him, because they didn’t steal anything. They didn’t touch his briefcase with his laptop and tablet, and that is an element of value for a normal thief.”

As well, Rodríguez Torres stated that the pronouncements of opposition leaders with regard to the case were self-serving, to “make us see that this crime is imputable to citizen insecurity as common crimes. [They are] trying to justify the unjustifiable.”

Rodríguez Torres recounted all the paramilitary actions that have taken place in Venezuela, planned by sectors of the Venezuelan and Colombian right wing.

He pointed out that the violent acts originated by the Venezuelan opposition began “coincidentally” after Álvaro Uribe Vélez won the Colombian presidential elections in 2002. From that moment, “Henrique Capriles Radonski and Leopoldo López made contact with Uribe to receive advice, directions, blessings and maybe a few other things as well.”

“That same year, López asked Uribe to be his security advisor, and the former mayor of Chacao, Emilio Graterol, contracted his services as police advisor to José Obdulio Gaviria, who is a cousin of [notorious Colombian drug lord] Pablo Escobar Gaviria.”

Rodríguez Torres also recounted how a series of violent events in April 2002 were planned and organized at Plaza Altamira, among them the placing of C4 explosives at the consulates of Colombia and Spain. There were several persons injured, and damage to the infrastructure. “There was participation from the right-wing political sector, and it was a purely terrorist action,” the minister said.

In 2004, 150 Colombian paramilitaries resided at the Daktari ranch, located between the municipalities of Baruta and Hatillo, with protection by local police. “They were led by Comandante Lucas, an assassin for the paramilitary Salvatore Mancuso, who testified in the United States that these Colombians were in Venezuela on the orders of Álvaro Uribe Vélez,” the minister explained.

“This case clearly demonstrates the presence of militarism in our country as a means of trying to rise to power. I name them case by case to remind you of the right-wing leaders and the barbarities they have wrought in this land,” Rodríguez Torres said.

Translation mine. Here’s the video of the minister’s radio appearance:

So we can see that all the key players of the Venezuelan and Colombian far right are involved in this assassination, as they were in the attempt on the life of Nicolás Maduro earlier this year, and in the attempt on Chavecito’s life as well, in April 2002.

Colombian interference in Venezuelan politics goes back at least that far; further, probably, if we examine the life of El Narco more closely, since his own involvement in the far-right politics of his land, and his use of paramilitary terrorism in it, goes back very far indeed. Remember, he’s an old friend of Pablo Escobar, the infamous drug lord killed by the DEA. And as governor of the Colombian province of Antioquia, he signed off on flight permits for Escobar’s drug runners, enabling them to get their wares to market out of country. Since Venezuela was, at that time, very much a point of transit for Colombian cocaine, it’s quite reasonable to assume that a great many of Escobar’s pilots were flying into Venezuela, offloading their drugs at local airports like Maiquetía to be transferred to international flights and ships, and returning to Colombia to repeat the process countless times.

Chavecito’s election in 1998 spelled the end for that, as he was not tame to the interests of the drug cartels or the US. And worse, Chavecito was hostile to the CIA…which we now know, thanks to the great investigative reporting of Gary Webb, was actually behind the crack-cocaine epidemic in the poor neighborhoods (predominantly black) in the US. And of course, the CIA was behind every right-wing “leader” in Latin America, whether “elected” (note the quotes) or simply imposed by coup. So of course it stood to reason that when El Narco rose to the rank of Colombian president in 2002, one of his first acts, however unofficial, would be to send paramilitaries to neighboring Venezuela to “help” the old political ruling classes there regain the power they were about to lose for good. And their role in the April coup of that year is getting harder and harder to dispute, as more evidence arises that they were involved in every act of political unrest that followed on the heels of Chávez becoming president.

We can also see clearly that there are ties between paramilitarism and Chavecito’s last would-be political rival, Henrique “Majunche” Capriles Radonski, as well as Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado. All of them would never be freely elected by the Venezuelan people, so of course they rely on manufactured riots, insecurity, instability and product shortages created by organized hoarding. Which they then crassly blame on the PSUV government. The fact that nobody is really convinced is a major strike against them, and means they will remain unelectable for as long as they live.

It also means that they will go on resorting to criminality, right up to and including murder, in their attempts to bring a legitimate government down.

Little wonder, then, that Robert Serra named them all as intellectual authors of what was to be his own murder, just days before it happened.