Police Pirates

We were robbed by pirates on Sunday, June 3, around 3:30 p.m., more precisely by the Guardia Nacional!

And it went like this: We are driving on the highway from Barinas to Barquisimeto. Just before the border between Estado Portugesa and Lara, we pass one of the usual police checkpoints and are waved out, right behind another small car. Here is the photo of the small car and the billboard right next to the police building.

They first want to see the ID of Antonio and me. Then Antonio has to get out and show the driver’s license and the vehicle documents. Then he is to come into the house. I stay in the car. When it takes too long, I lock the car and also go to the cottage. Finally, I have to take the opportunity. Antonio comes towards me and whispers: they want between 500 and 1000 Bolivares. Why? I ask: the health certificate would be missing. I ask if I can go to the bathroom and I can. I hear them laughing from the bathroom next door, as if they were playing a prank. Antonio meanwhile has gone to the car to count how much cash we have left.

When I get out, I show them my (photocopy) of the International Vaccination Certificate from a distance. I have a health card, I claim. No, I need an International. This is one of the United Nations, I insist. But the older, fat, bolder one waves and says that they have already spoken to my husband and that I should not interfere. I insist and say that now I am here and I want to understand what we have done. Suddenly the vaccination card is no longer important, but we have violated another law: We do not have the right to drive in Venezuela, we need a Venezuelan permit. It is more obvious that they have a reason. I say that I don’t understand, after all they would have rented us a car in Caracas. In Caracas there are laws, here they are different! says the older one, snaps at the younger one, asking him to show me the law in the traffic regulations and then goes outside to Antonio. The young man rattles and rattles and, of course, can’t find a paragraph that even comes close to his accusations. Then he changes his tactics, distracts from the paragraph and says: we have to go back there and take money out of the machine and pay 1000 Bolivares (200) and we will get a paper that gives us a free pass to drive in Venezuela from now on. I am pissed and say, ok, let’s go. I quickly take our papers. On the way out he argues, yes, it is his job to accompany us, but it will take a long time and cost us a lot of money, because we would have to pay a cab. Antonio, the fat one, the younger one and I are meanwhile outside at the car. Antonio shows that we only have 345 Bs (the truth) and insists that he was born in Venezuela and that they should please be merciful. The “good” then says to the “bad”: come, let’s be generous today…

We print all our cash, quickly get into the car, close the doors, but before we drive, I take a picture from the inside through the back window. They can’t see that, because all the windows are covered with blackout foil.

Maybe we would have managed to get them to let us go like this. Maybe. But maybe they would have called their “friends” a few kilometers away and they would have robbed us completely. In this respect it turned out well. Unfortunately, everyone we told about it, advised us not to press charges. Although or just because the impunity is one of the biggest human rights violations and problems.