Venezuela: The Fires of the Fascist Inquisition

*Larissa Costas

Sins in the “service” of truth?

In 1184, the Catholic Church created the Inquisition, an institution that sought to extirpate freedoms, especially those related to religious thought or faith. The Dominican friars Heinrich Kramer and Jacobus Sprenger,  created a manual of the Inquisition that became “a true bestseller” of its time,  reedited fourteen times until 1520.   It provided guidelines for identifying possible witches, who,  according to  Manuel Villatoro, purportedly had the power to destroy  male virility.

Bartolomé Bennassar affirmed that the Spanish modern state found in the Inquisition an “unparalleled instrument of ideological cohesion” that acted through the “subtle diffusion of fear” which thus imposed the Vatican’s influence over religious,  political and social structure.

At the International Symposium on the Inquisition held in the Vatican in 1998, two types of inquisition were defined;  1) trials consecrated by the Church and 2) trials conducted in  civil courts. Both judged in the name of God.

The Vatican acknowledged that 25,000 people died at the stake in Germany; in Poland and Lithuania, 10,000; in Switzerland, 4 thousand; in Denmark and Norway, 1 350; in the United Kingdom, 1 thousand; in Italy, 36, in Portugal, four, in Spain, 49. This figure aroused the indignation of historians who calculate that at least 100 thousand people perished, of whom 18 thousand would have died by  fire. According to Juan Antonio Llorente there would have been 31,192 burned alive in Spain. In 2000, the Catholic Church asked for forgiveness for ” sins committed to the service of truth ” a strange way of apologizing.

The Nazis

Olga Lengyel survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. She is the author of a biographical novel known as The Five Chimneys, in reference to the crematorium where the bodies of her two sons and her husband were consumed.

Nazi crimes denounced by the Jewish community include  the burning of people, religious temples and businesses.

In the Massacre of Santa Ana de Stazzema , Italy, on 12 August 1944, Nazi soldiers and fascist militiamen assassinated 560 civilians, including 107 children under the age of 14, one by one, with machine guns and flamethrowers.

In the massacre of Gardelegen , committed on April 13, 1945, 1,166 prisoners were burned alive.

A Hitler in Buenos Aires … Or maybe … Several

Coinciding with Nazi practices, the Argentine dictatorship headed by Jorge Videla, tortured and exterminated at least 4,500 people  in detention  facilities in the School of Mechanics of the Navy (ESMA).  500 survived. The report by never again devotes a chapter to those who died by fire there.

The  Catholic Church that established the Inquisition, centuries later maintained alliances with the Nazis  and the dictatorship of Videla received advice from the ecclesiastical hierarchy on the subject of the disappeared.

Between 1882 and 1968, in the United States, over 3,446 African Americans were killed, most of them burned alive by extremist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Inquisitorial practices today

In 2014, Alberto Federico Ravell wrote a scabrous Twitter:

It referred to the installation of a government controlled by Nazis and was posted four days after a group of Nazis sponsored by Washington crucified and burned alive an anti-fascist  resistance fighter.

The news transnationals made great efforts to conceal the crime. A couple of weeks later, 42 people were burned alive . The victims were cornered in a building that was lit in flames by an ultra-right group in Odessa.

Since the year 2015, the terrorist group Daesh has documented in its own audiovisual productions the burning of people. Such was the case of a Jordanian pilot who was kidnapped, locked up in a cage and burned alive before the cameras. Press reports document burnings of groups of people in different locations in Iraq and Syria. In 2016, the group burning of 19 women who refused to have sex with terrorists was reported. The most recent crime of this nature occurred on June 3 , when terrorists sprayed gasoline on a dozen people and set them on fire.

This practice is emulated by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. A report by Euronews refers to the “unlimited horror” of the extremist group that attacked a community in which they killed almost all the inhabitants.

The media, however, are not so severe in the condemnation of these appalling practices as they occur in Venezuela. The Spanish press avoided exposing the perpetrators of a crime that took place on Tuesday, July 18, in Lechería when a fascist group wounded Hector Amuello with a mortar, set fire to his body, and then attacked the corpse with stones and bottles . National media preferred to follow the lessons of the Inquisition manual by criminalizing the victim,  describing his ideology and belonging to a particular political group,  as if it represented a threat.

That same day, at the Altamira Metro station, a young transient was identified as “Chavista” by a group of fascists demonstrating in the vicinity. He received puncture-wounds and burns. Tvs Pueblo interviewed the young man who claimed to be in the area looking for a relative. The corporate media released another version of the facts; that it was a “fight” between members of the so-called “resistance” to collect toll vehicles. has developed a map that documents 23 cases of victims of incendiary weapons registered in different press sources. We quote:

These crimes, unprecedented in the contemporary history of Venezuela, have occurred in five regions of the country in the last 118 days: Capital Region (15), Lara (4), Zulia (2), Anzoátegui (1) and Táchira (1) Three of these events occurred when, unintentionally, explosives exploded in the hands of the opposition protesters themselves: in 20 cases, the assaulted people were government officials, people of color, poor or were branded as Chavista by fanatics , in actions where the perpetrators used Molotov cocktails and homemade mortars, firecrackers and other weapons. Most of these cases have occurred in the municipality of Chacao, governed by the opposition party Primero Justicia. Young people rescued from terrorism and the guarimba who have given testimony to authorities and the media, denounce this organization as the main sponsor of these groups.

According to figures that we obtained, thanks to the collaboration of the General Post of the CEOFANB Command, 62 officials present burn injuries, equivalent to 13% of injured National Guards.

Fire, as a weapon of war, kills or marks forever. They not only  incinerate Chavistas, but the electoral documents of their own followers on the pretext of hiding the identity of those who  participated in a non-binding plebiscite, a call that emerged as an alternative to the Constituent Assembly.  For both the left and the right, democracy has revolved around the call of Maduro.

The burning of electoral material was a symbolic act, but also political: democracy was cremated making any post-mortem audit impossible.

The Office of the Special Adviser on genocide prevention:

“The crime of hate is a dehumanizing crime because those who commit it consider that their victims lack human value because of their color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, ethnic origin, physical or mental impairment, social status, religion, age, religious or political beliefs. “

Terrorist groups operating in Venezuela observe the  codes of the ancient crusades promoted by the Catholic Church, and carry crosses distinctive to both Crusaders and the Ku Klux Klan. Their gregarious behavior recalls images of terrorist groups in the Middle East and Nigeria. They have characteristics common to hate criminals everywhere: they make a conscious, ideological,  social construction of victims they attack,  justifying their crimes with dubious rationale based on delusions of superiority.

It is not an exclusive duty for Chavismo to save Venezuela from hatred. That is everyone’s job. And it is urgent.

*Original Article in Spanish