Dieguito’s Way

Whenever the government tries to blame  the crime wave on a media-driven “feeling of insecurity”, I think of stories like this gut-wrenching case of a 12-year old kid in San Felix who terrorized his neighborhood. He was found shot dead underneath a bridge the other day.

Dieguito was already known as a threat in several areas of San Felix… …for the last two years, he was identified by the neighbors as one of the most dangerous robbers in the zone.

In several opportunities he was captured but later released in a matter of hours… “He told us that it was just more work for us because he can’t be held in prision”, according to a officer of Bolivar State police.

Apparently, local gangs were using him to do their dirty work because they knew he was protected by LOPNA.

The state completely failed this kid. The case shows the lack of measures to stop young boys getting into crime. The situation in Bolivar is so grave, even chavistas want swift action, but of course the local authorities are still trying to wave off the damage.

45 thoughts on “Dieguito’s Way

        • WWHD (What would Henrique do), at this point it’s fair to assume that part of the violence problem is directly related to this approach of treating underage kids as untouchables while at the same time having “sociopath-factory” households that actually encourage the behavior.

          As the system works today no one wins; the kiddie thugs go around doing their thing knowing they are above the law until someone takes matters into their own hands and kills them (after much damage has been done), society lives in constant fear and the state is at a crossroads on what to do with them…

        • In another one of the news I read Diego was one of 10 children, raising another issue that keeps perpetuating the poverty circle, the lack of family planning and birth control.

            • When you see news like this, you understand than sexual education, family planning and contraception are key tools for stopping our poverty circle and there should be a major government effort to promote that. I agree that not all of the blame in the state, but this kid probably never had a school, judge or anyone who might had helped him, there are no Institutions in the country that can help a children in these circumstances, the lack of access to a decent education, to a system that can remove children from bad parents and offer them alter.native care contributed to the result. We have a system that both helps to create criminals and fails to punish them. And even blaming the mother, who probably started having children while she was a children, who probably came from very similar circumstances doesn’t lead anywhere.

            • CACR has it exactly right.

              If only we had some candidate thinking through disadvantaged kids’ lifecycle, starting right up from pre-natal screening and nutrition through early childhood education, elementary school infrastructure, teacher training and after school programs, job growth for the parents, cash transfers to help incentivize them to stay in school, and then making safe the enabling environment for education in terms of personal safety…

              Oh wait, turns out we do have a candidate thinking through social policy from precisely this kind of life cycle perspective :)

              Señores, hay un camino.

            • Venezuela has the highest birth rate in South America after Paraguay and Bolivia but opposite to those countries the population is highly concentrated in some strips of land, not living apart in the mountans or grasslands with the chicken and the pigs.

              Another thing: last year over 501 women were murdered by their relatives or partners.
              In Spain (with 16 million more inhabitants) it was 51 women.
              Venezuela has a huge problem with violence.

              But, but, but:
              . In Venezuela, 137.9 women per 100 000 inhabitants have breast implants. In Germany, it’s 30.57 women for 100000 persons (thus, for about 50000 females of every age) and in the USA it’s 84.3 women for 100000 people have that kind of operation.

              Those are priorities.
              My city, Valencia, with over 1.2 million people, has one public library with as many books as the public library of a 35000-inhabitants town in Western Europe.

            • Greatto know that HRC is thinking about this, they should also consult Luis Pedro España and the other “Proyecto Pobreza” people in UCAB, if they already haven’t. And maybe thinking about educational reform and successful experiences such as the Asian one. They should think about Judicial Reform, many people who had work in transitions has said that politicians tends to underestimate the importance of building independent Court during transitions when is actually a key factor for building “governabilidad”.

            • That’s great, Hay un camino y ese es el camino, No the problem is actually being able to enforce those policies and that depends on the campaign.

            • If for some freak of nature I ever become president of Venezuela my first official act will be to ban the “wife beater” (aka. la franeleta).

            • Quico, I’m really concerned about PJ’s admiration for PP in Spain. They have fucked up a lot of stuff and their priorities are a bit weird, like slashing spending, yet, increasing the salaries of middle/high bureucrats and giving more money to bullfights. They are just annoying the opposition, and not prosecuting fiscal fraud.

              You say that the Proyecto Pobreza guys are writing The Plan, yet Julio Borges recently spoke about the PP in good terms and called them “centro-humanista”. Something’s not right here. I am OK with having ideological affinities, but I do think that neither from the social policies or from the austerity point of view, the PP policies make sense. Plus, they won’t lead to governabilidad. We just had an anniversary from 27F. Do we need another one? I’d really like Borges to come ahead and say he does like the PP people but he does not agree with their policies, or that they are not suited to Venezuela.

      • Let’s not rush into judgement, based on a flimsy news report, which if we are to believe it, notes the family’s acknowledgement of Dieguito’s path. Aceptando que el muchacho estuviera en malos pasos, su mamá, tíos y abuela manifestaron que tenía los días contados ante las constantes amenazas realizadas por funcionarios de la PEB, Patrulleros de Caroní y Guardia Nacional Bolivariana.”

        Sometimes you wonder how much a state or society can do for those who cannot become — for whatever debatable reasons — more responsible, say about their procreation. Where did society fail Dieguito’s mom? Really, it’s important to ask this question, no matter how difficult the answer to those who don’t want to face it.

        And who’s to say that Dieguito wasn’t simply the product of a genetic predisposition to sociopathic behavior?

        Clearly, there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye, even in print.

  1. This story Gustavo linked to (http://www.eldiariodeguayana.com.ve/sucesos/9185-92-de-los-homicidios-en-bolivar-se-producen-por-ajuste-de-cuentas.html) is absolutely unfrigging believable. Una joyita, el Fuentes Manzulli este…

    92% de los homicidios en Bolívar se producen por ajuste de cuentas
    El coronel Julio César Fuentes Manzulli considera que 8% de los crímenes que han ocurrido por delitos como robo, son los que realmente representan la ola de violencia que atraviesa el estado, pues el resto “refleja la descomposición social que viven los ciudadanos de esta entidad”

    Si bien es cierto que el móvil más recurrente en los homicidios ocurridos durante los últimos meses en el estado Bolívar es el ajuste de cuentas, también lo es que, cual sea la causa, es un asesinato y en la mayoría de los casos queda impune.

    Para el coronel Julio César Fuentes Manzulli, el hecho de que el número de homicidios se haya incrementado 33% en comparación con los ocurridos durante los primeros días del año 2011, no representa un aumento en los índices de inseguridad, pues según las estadísticas, 92% de los asesinatos son ejecutados bajo el móvil de ajuste de cuentas, y por tanto, “los que realmente integran la cifra de víctimas es 8% que ha caído por robo y otros delitos”.

    • Yeah, I was gonna comment on that surreal piece as well: “Nosotros por homicidio, en cuanto el delito, tan sólo tenemos 8%, porque el ajuste de cuentas entra en los crímenes por descomposición social”.

      Anyone who actually believes this hot, steaming pile of bullshit DESERVES to have the barines de mierda as president til the year 2500; it’s a shame the rest of the country has had to split the bill with these people(?) for the last 13 years.

  2. Venezuela doesn’t even have a Youth Detenton Center (fancy way of saying a state boarrding school with a HIGH fence)?

  3. “The state completely failed this kid.”

    To say nothing of the neighborhood that this kid terrorized and the victims he preyed on…

    Sorry, Gustavo, but my sympathies lie first with his victims. He may have been a product of the system and the times, but once someone (even a juvenile) crosses that line enough times to become an infamous threat, he and his family have to accept that there are consequences.

    The fact that those consequences came ‘extraoficial’, speaks to the failure of the justice system in general, not just to Dieguito.

    • Comments like this make me despair, really. Sorry. Did Dieguito choose to live in squalor, did he choose the parents he had (if he had any), did he choose to go to school with no teachers, did he have other options but to work for the barrio’s gansters? I don’t think he did. The state FAILED him big time as it failed to protect the people he robbed.

      • Anelim,
        Yes, the State failed him, but the primary responsibility is with the family. The day the State is the primary being held responsible for this kind of stuff is the day the State owns kids.

        Maybe if we stopped looking to the State for answers … we could find them.

        • ooooh, our own little Culture War right in the CC comments’ section!

          I think we need to accept as a fact that some people just lack the social, cultural, economic and educational capital to raise children who don’t become sociopaths. Dieguito’s mom sure sounds like one of those.

          • I’ll tell you what she lacks: the self-awareness to shut the hell up and stop blaming others for her own failures. Whatever happened to clamming up and going away in self-reflection when your kid does something horrible?

            Look, of course Dieguito lacked a basic chance. Of course his mother is not entirely at fault. Of course his living conditions were the pits. But there are a lot of decent, honest poor people trying to do right for themselves. It’s not impossible.

            We need to lay off trying to find answers in the State. The Venezuelan State is like a reverse King Midas – everything it touches, it turns to crap. It’s not the solution, it’s the problem.

            • Juan,
              Nice to see you channeling your inner Reagan. I agree fully with you and is a debate that should be had in Venezuela, daddy petrostate and all; but the State should not be in the business of giving houses, raising people’s children, running the whole economy and setting the priorities of a free society. However, it does need to guarantee the safety of all its citizens, and at that it has utterly failed, the 92 and 8%.

            • “The Venezuelan State is like a reverse King Midas…”

              And yet we don’t support preventing it from getting its grubby little hands on the petrodollars?!

          • Let us be clear on our terminology. “Sociopath” is a genetic attribute. They are born, not raised. A “sociopath” is a human being that has an abnormally low capacity to feel empathy. Such humans are dangerous in any society because they do not feel constrained by the norms of their society. These persons are rare, because their abnormality is normally detected early and they are eliminated from the society before they can reproduce.

            What I worry about more is the normal kids who are raised to think that bullying and stealing is “normal”.

        • Juan,
          I don’t deny the personal responsibility of parents and the fact that even in States that provide education and assistance to children there is people raising sociopaths. But the structural problem that’s creating, not only the extreme case of Dieguitos, but uneducated citizens and more poverty can only be resolve by the State intervening and making structural changes, that doesn’t mean that we wont have bad parents and sociopaths, but at least not the disaster we have right now where the system is almost in complicity with bad parents in creating criminals.

          • Right. Because the Venezuelan State is just an expert at coming in and solving problems. Why, look at … Venezuela!

            • The problem is not the lack of problem solving or the lack of ideas. Venezuela has plenty of good, home grown expertise. Take Barrio Adentro as an example. It does not work as it should, but the model could work well in the hands of a real (civil) government. The chavez government is essentially a cabal of corrupt interests. It’s on the trajectory of failed statehood. It is not reflective, generally, of what civil government can do. Health, education and public transportation are essential to a better (less violent) venezuela and they are things governments do well. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, I say.

        • Ehhh, while I’m pretty hard on crime and support the death penalty I don’t see how this kid would’ve turned out any different. To expect kids raised by parents that have virtually no formal education, little critical thinking skills and who barely manage to feed themselves to NOT produce a sociopath is a tall order. These are people reduced to a state of nature and to expect them to behave within any sort of societal conventions is expecting way too much. What annoys me more is that most Latin American governments keep perpetuating the conditions that produce these little savages. Maybe that term isn’t appropriate anymore but a lot of these criminals display a distinct level of savagery, hence the term. That being said to expect someone that grows up in those circumstances to not grow up to be a vicious criminal is a bit far-fetched.

        • Sorry I was away while you were having this debate.

          Juan,
          Sorry which family? the mother that talked to him about respect for others; or the father that was his role model and taught him bad from good, or the big brother that advised him to stay away from ‘malas juntas’, or the grandmother that lovingly looked after him. I don’t think Dieguito had any of those, and yes the Estate FAILED to intervene and save him from the toxic environment he lived in.

          I think it’s very easy to talk about self-reliance and self-determination and about choosing ‘the right path’ when people have had all right resources (economical, emotional, academic, etc) at hand all their lives. Haven’t we learnt to put ourselves in these people’s shoes after all these years? have we no compassion for a 12-year old child failed by everybody?

          I just remember a joke that I heard somewhere: a billionaire magnate was asked how he had built his empire, and he responded ‘I started from scratch really, I only had a $500 million trust fund my father had set up for me’.

          No pidamos peras al olmo.

  4. Not trying to be a oncólogo, but this is supposedly transparent information:
    “Se realizó la extracción total de la lesión pélvica diagnosticada, extirpándose además, el tejido circundante a la lesión. No hubo complicaciones relacionadas con los órganos locales, El post operatorio inmediato ha sido estable, clínicamente sin complicaciones sistémicas. Se recupera adecuadamente colaborando con la rehabilitación post quirúrgica. En las próximas horas se dispondrá de los estudios histológicos, que determinarán el tratamiento óptimo de la lesión”
    So, the lesion was completedly removed to be subsequently appropiatedly treated, I’m hoping the best for the lesion!

    • I hope not to be misunderstood, I found funny they want to treat the “lesion” they have already completedly extirpated…

  5. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but may I humbly suggest that tying in solid analysis to an anecdote like you did here makes for a much higher quality post than simple naked anecdotes like with the OneChot piece?

  6. I think (and I have read) that Chavez exhibits some of the pathologies of a person that did not bond properly with a parent figure as a child. He ended up, not having a deprived childhood (in Barinas he didn’t live in abject poverty), but he did have an interrupted childhood. So the military became his family, and ideology became his explanation for how the world works and how a person ought to behave. And Castro became his surrogate father etc etc.

    I don’t know where he lies on the sociopath spectrum, but he could be explained as a perfect storm of negative familial and sub-optimal environmental experiences. He is powered by resentment, and I don’t even think it has much to do with class resentment. (He handles himself pretty well with the rich and famous.) He has the resentment of someone who feels he was abandoned or betrayed. He visibly hates MCM not because she is escualido but because she is a woman and she challenges him.

    I’ve seen a few of these kids who are being brought up by people who didn’t sign up for the task, or are bounced around due to economic and other circumstances (often an irresponsible father) and it is something that needs to be addressed. Not just in Venezuela of course. The result can be a disaster.

  7. “The state completely failed this kid.”

    …is the understatement of the century. Not only the State, but the whole Venezuelan society down to his family, which, by way of things like this becoming routine, are disintegrating.

    And they did not just fail to provide the kid an opportunity at life. They allow and nurture a culture of violence that makes A Clockwork Orange look like Disney Channel Junior. The same culture that made this and many other kids serial murderers, runners amok, as fatalistically suicidal as they are homicidal. Sorry for the hyperbole.

    A quote by a resident, honest and true from start to end:
    “Ese niño, si se puede llamar así, era un peligro para la colectividad. Eso se veía venir, sabíamos que larga vida no tendría, es lamentable, pero hacía desastres por aquí a toda hora del día”

    Absent that culture (absent their practitioners) he and many others might be (less!) disadvantaged youths, but still alive. With their many victims, many in their own age segment.

    Educational and job opportunities, better health, family planning and other services, etc. can help, if this culture is absent. Else none of those things reach their targets, they simply don’t because of violence.

    Is anyone in Venezuela seriously, realistically tackling the issue of eradicating the culture of violence? Without resort to the usual platitudes or to extrajudicial violence, please.

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