At the end of last year, an important political event occurred, an unusual event, a political event of the highest and most extreme gravity. Paradoxically – except for the interventions of a few parliamentarians – such an event should not even be considered by history as it has been treated as such by the national political scene. The same has not been true of the social scene, where the networks have been active. We refer to the threat against the president-elect Gabriel Boric Font, made through social networks by the Venezuelan refugee Luis Andrés Luces Armado, a subject closely linked to the former presidential candidate José Antonio Kast, the evangelical deputy of Renovación Nacional RN Eduardo Durán and the conventional constituent Teresa Marinovici. In a video he published on the digital platform Tik Tok on 19 December 2021, Luces said harshly to the president-elect:
“I’m going to tell you something and this is not a threat, it’s a warning. If it occurs to you to bring Nicolás Maduro for the change of command, I can promise you that I will mobilise more than 600,000 Venezuelans who are legally resident for the immediate capture of this genocidal “ii.
In the same video, Luces added, with contempt:
“Mecherito, I can swear to you… I can swear to you that I am going to be a nightmare in the mobilisations “iii.
“Believe me: you’re not going to like the big shit that’s going to happen “iv.
WHO IS LUIS ANDRÉS LUCES ARMADO?
Luis Andrés Luces Armado – who, in his papers, has stated that he is a computer engineer – did not arrive in Chile at the invitation of President Piñera after his unfortunate intervention in Cúcuta in 2019, as one might suppose. On the contrary, his residence permit was granted three years earlier, on 24 March 2016, by Viviana González López, the visa officer of the Foreign Affairs Department of Michelle Bachelet’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, acting on the orders of the head of that service. We do not know whether, in order to grant the aforementioned permit, that Department had in mind the Venezuelan Judicial Visitor because there is a case against him there, an important circumstance that should not be overlooked in the trial against him in Chile for domestic violence against his ex-wife and daughter. According to press reports, Luces was due to appear in court on Friday, January 7, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. in Tower A of the Santiago Justice Centre, located at Pedro Montt 1606. We do not know what has happened since then.
The networks also report that Luces, a character who has not only never hidden his sympathies for Hitler’s ideas but openly declares himself to be a Nazi, proceeded, before emigrating to Colombia (2012), to burn the Torah, the Jewish bible, in a cemetery.
Luces Armado is not a quiet guy. Already before the December 2021 elections he had claimed, without any basis for his assertions, that, if Boric won, the triumphant coalition would organise an ‘extermination plan’ which would begin with
“…] creating a new scenario that would make it possible to convene and establish a new quarantine, which would be the termination of all companies because it would make them indefinitely and this would obviously leave a percentage of unemployment of over 50% of the nation “viii.
THE THREAT THAT IS A ‘WARNING
Luces denies having made threats through his Tik Tok account. It is a warning, he says. And he stands by that thesis. Because he knows that a warning can be tolerated and even welcomed, which is only the case when the execution of the warning does not depend on the person issuing it. When the opposite is the case, i.e. when the execution of the warning is directly dependent on the person issuing it, it is in fact a threat. Because it is only on his will that the execution depends.
A threat is not a criticism. Much less an instrument to be exercised in politics. A threat whose execution depends on the one who makes it is overt violence. It is a warning of the imminent use of force. When directed against an authority, it is a challenge to it. It is an invitation to compete and publicly dispute over who possesses power. That is, the ability to impose one’s will on another or others.
This is the reason why the threat has been elevated to a criminal offence in Art. 296 of the Penal Code, CP, whether it is made against ordinary citizens or against authorities.
THREAT TO THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY
The threat made against the elected president is not just any threat. Because the presidency of the Republic is not just any authority but the highest civil authority in a modern social formation. It is a threat against the one who represents the state/nation, the one who represents the whole of society, its patriotic symbols, its culture, its institutions. Consequently, a threat to the head of state is an insult to the nation, to all the individuals who live within it. It is a blatant violation of established authority, a contempt for those who established that authority.
When, on 8 August 2020, the Undersecretary of the Interior, Juan Francisco Galli, announced to the press the arrest and expulsion from Chile of a Peruvian citizen who, months earlier, had threatened to kill President Sebastián Piñera and his family, no one protested against the measure. Because, regardless of the political colour of the highest civil authority, no one can accept a threat against the person who holds the office of president; even less so against a recently elected president.
According to the authority, in March of that year, the 20-year-old man – identified as Roy Camacho Valverde – sent an email to the Presidency in which he made the threat against the president.
For anyone who assumes that there are differences between foreigners who are in an irregular situation and those who have been granted a residence permit, it is worth remembering that although in the case of Roy Camacho there was no permit granted by the government to reside and/or work in Chile, the arguments used by the undersecretary were not based on this circumstance but on other facts, stating that
“…] he is being expelled especially because he made death threats against the President of the Republic and his family “ix .
Consequently, according to the administrative interpretation of the government of Sebastián Piñera, the measure of expulsion is adopted when there are threats against the highest civil authority, a circumstance that obliges the government to take such a measure, something that the undersecretary makes clear when he states:
“[…] we believe that in this case we have to give a clear signal that threats against the authorities, against parliamentarians and against any person, whether Chilean or foreigner, are unacceptable “x.
THE REACTION OF THE NATIONAL ‘POLITICAL ELITE
One might think that the national ‘political elite’ would react as one to the threat; however, this was not the case. Only two or three parliamentarians from the popular political parties complained about the threat against the president-elect. None from the Chile Vamos sector. Those who, from the opposition sectors, reacted positively were Senator Alejandro Navarro and Congresswoman Carmen Herz.
For the latter, the threat against the president-elect was nothing new: previously, the same Venezuelan immigrant had made severe threats against her. For this reason, on 24 December, he sent a letter to the Minister of the Interior in which he stated:
“[…] the actions of this Venezuelan citizen, in addition to being completely ignorant, despise one of the most important events for a society that prides itself on being democratic, such as the ceremony of the change of office of a President who finishes his term of office to the President of the Republic elect, as it represents an important milestone in its history as it is a reflection of Popular Sovereignty, with protocols in place to ensure good relations and fraternity between sister nations “xi.
Senator Alejandro Navarro’s message was no different. For the legislator, the Venezuelan citizen Luis Luces
“…] not only demonstrates ignorance but also belittles one of the most relevant acts for democratic peoples, such as the change of command of a president of the Republic, which reflects popular sovereignty, which in this case, was expressed with more than 4.6 million votes for Gabriel Boric”.
“It is in the face of this direct threat to the president-elect that we have filed this complaint against Luis Luces Armado, so that he can be deported immediately, something that the government should have already done, as it did in August 2020 when it expelled the person who intimidated President Sebastián Piñera “xii.
THE REACTION OF SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA’S GOVERNMENT
It does not seem to us that either the Minister of the Interior or President Piñera himself have done anything about it. Nor do we get the impression that they will do so in the future. Rather, it seems that the intention of both authorities would appear to be to maintain a cloak of silence over the actions of Luis Luces, given that, after the ballot between the candidates Sebastián Sichel and José Antonio Kast, the latter became the official government candidate, whose friendship with the Venezuelan immigrant is well known. Because, in such cases, it is necessary to give life and continuity to that famous old saying according to which
“Between oxen there is no goring’.
It is no surprise, therefore, that there is no reaction from the government. Nor in its ministries or services. There is even no interest in the matter in other bodies that are linked to it, such as the State Defence Council, the Constitutional Court or other similar bodies. It is useless to think of an ex officio action initiated by the National Prosecutor Jorge Abbott when legal laziness seems to be the most characteristic feature of this corporation. Nor, of course, should it be surprising that institutions such as the National Human Rights Institute (INDH), in the hands of a person whose temperament and ideas are not dissimilar to those of the Prosecutor, should show similar behaviour. True, true, true: none of these institutions has the mission of defending the honour of the homeland. But the annoyance at this kind of external interference can be made in another way. Because, in truth, when institutionalism is faltering and crime seems to be sweeping away the institutions of the State in the face of the indifference of those who govern, it is almost normal that there should be no major reaction to it. It is not for nothing that it is said – let us return to another old saying:
“You can’t ask for pears from an elm tree”.
THE REACTION OF THE OPPOSITION AND THE REST OF THE NATIONAL POLITICAL SCENE
But what is striking is that the other ‘powers’ of the state and even the opposition sectors of the current government maintain a similar attitude.
Because there has been no reaction from the president of the Senate criticising what has happened (we are not talking about the president of the Chamber of Deputies, who is a ‘right-wing’ man and whose behaviour is predictable); nor has the Comptroller General of the Republic, although – as we know – the matter does not fall within his competence. The mayor’s offices remain silent, as do the governor’s offices, and it is even natural for judges and notaries to do the same. The political parties and organisations linked to the new government remain silent; the Constitutional Convention is mute. Not even the Chilean Human Rights Commission has issued a statement on the matter, nor have the major trade union federations such as the CUT. It is understandable that organisations which, rather than voting for the current president-elect, voted against his political rival, have not done so. But nevertheless, they should still raise their voices in defence of a national symbol that represents the triumph of that form of government called ‘democracy’. Even if the threat against the president-elect is not the concern of all of them.
The situation is worrying in that, of all the bodies named, the most remarkable has been that there has not even been a reaction from the lawyers accompanying the president-elect himself. It is as if no one cares that anyone, an upstart, an unimportant subject, tramples with impunity on the national honour embodied in the person of the highest civil authority of the Republic. The obvious question is whether, after the ballot, we have received as a legacy the ‘teachings’ of José Antonio Kast, Sebastián Izquierdo, Johannes Kaiser, Gonzalo De la Carrera or the Venezuelan refugee Luis Luces himself as ways of human relations and of resolving political differences. Could it be that, constantly harassed by corruption and immorality, we have begun to get used to this behaviour and, without wanting to, we are ready to accept it as our new way of life? It would be terrible.
i A Twitter feed by Luis María De los Reyes Errázuriz shows the Venezuelan refugee with Teresa Marinovic in a video that is embedded on the web. Photographs of him with Kast and Durán have appeared in many digital media. There are also photographs of the same Venezuelan refugee with Kast and Marinovic in ‘La voz de los que sobran’.
ii Video from Tik Tok of 19 December 2021.
iii Reyes, Felipe: “Diputada Herz (PC) oficia al Gobierno por ciudadano venezolano que ‘amenazó’ a Boric”, Radio Biobío, 24 December 2021.
iv Editorial office: “Crece presión para que se deporte a venezolano que amenaza a Boric: recuerdan caso de peruano expulsado por hacer lo mismo con Piñera”, ‘La voz de los que sobran’, 27 December 2021.
v Editorial staff: “Fan of José Antonio Kast and the plan to ‘exterminate Chile’ if Gabriel Boric wins”, ‘Hora de Noticias’, 18 December 2021.
vi Editorial office: Id. (5).
vii Editor’s note: “Diputada Herz ofició a Interior a tomar medidas contra representante venezolano de derecha que amenazó a Gabriel Boric”, CNN, 24 December 2021.
viii Editorial office: Id. (5). Bold in the original.
ix Editor’s note: Id. (4). Bold in the original.
x Redaction: Id. (4). Bold in the original.
xi Letter from Congresswoman Carmen Herz to the Minister of the Interior, 24 December 2021.
xii Claro, Hernán: “Alejandro Navarro pide deportar a venezolano que amenazó a Boric”, ‘El Dínamo’, 27 December 2021.