Marcelo Villarroel, from High-Security Prison: “Sustained attacks on the social peace of the rich will continue”
By Pablo Vergara
From High-Security Prison (CAS) in Santiago, Marcelo Villarroel—a former Lautarista charged with the October 2007 Security Bank robbery during which Carabinero Corporal Luis Moyano died—agreed to answer part of a lengthy questionnaire we sent him a few weeks ago. Villarroel, who was a prisoner at CAS during the 1990s, was part of the Kamina Libre collective, which District Attorney Alejandro Peña now considers one of the progenitors of the “Bombings Case.” Here, despite the awkwardness of answering a questionnaire, Villarroel explains his ideological evolution and what it means to be an anarchist.
How would you describe what’s going on right now?
At the moment, the entire domineering legal-political-police-prison structure—mandated by the State to imprison, harass, and accuse at any cost all individuals who have clear anti-capitalist tendencies and undeniable histories of struggle—is operating with gross impunity and immunity in order to resolve what Power calls “the Bombings case.” Nothing can surprise us now. Fourteen people have been locked up and charged with constituting an “illegal terrorist organization” thanks to a mountain of evidence fabricated by the police, and it’s very likely that this State offensive will continue. Bear in mind that the Government is interested in using the police to resolve a matter that resonates in ways that are much more profound. Subversive anti-capitalist activity is based on the everyday decision by many individuals to rebel against their condition of wage-slavery, thus becoming human beings who rise up in an attempt to be free. Therefore, as long as more arrests are made and repression grows, sustained attacks on the Social Peace of the Rich and all expressions of Capital will continue.
What does it mean to be an anarchist?
These days, I understand and respect those who consider themselves anarchists and walk the Path of illegality, making their lives an eternal fight against Power. It’s currently impossible to think about an integral Anarchism from an academic or intellectual perspective, or from the perspective of what many call a Space of Social Organization, without denying the historically effective subversive dimension of the anarchist way of viewing and understanding the world. Those who adopt such a definition—harmlessly skirting reality, rejecting violent direct action against Capital—are nothing more than social-democrats who are completely integrated into the participatory logic of “diversity” kindly offered to them by Democracy.
And even though there are many different types of Anarchists motivated by a great variety of interests, it is my conviction that being an anarchist today means being a Subversive who fights to the death against Power for the total destruction of class society, without waiting for anything other than the decision that springs from one’s own conscience.
What does it mean to be a libertarian?
The concept of libertarianism originated in Spain at the end of the 1890s, during a period of the Criminalization of Anarchism due to the rise of Violent Direct Action known as “Propaganda by the deed.” Libertarianism was a way of continuing to act openly and publicly, avoiding reasons for persecution. Since then, the concept—always associated with the world of Anarchism—has mutated fundamentally toward non-militant individual and communal practices that recreate a collective universe of codes and values like Mutual Aid, horizontal human relationships, anti-authoritarianism, the rejection of Private Property via collectively recuperated spaces, etc., as well as the creation of a counterculture that basically allows us to realize a way of viewing and understanding the contemporary world that has nothing to do with the bourgeois teachings imposed on us by Capital. Therefore, whoever experiences, understands, and goes about their practice in the world on this kind of life path can now calmly and freely call themselves libertarian.
You’ve been linked to the Lautaro Movement for Popular Unitarian Action (MAPU Lautaro). What is your response?
What can I say? Yes, between the “Security Case” and the “Bombings Case,” there are seven of us who at some point in our lives were militants in said organization and served prison sentences in excess of ten years as a result of that choice. Without needing to ask each of these comrades what they thought of the experience, I can be certain that each one lived through it with the pride and dignity of knowing they gave the best of themselves at a time in the country’s political history when the bourgeois readaptation known as the Transition was being promoted by Capital. This was the opportunity used by many to cowardly renounce the struggle for the radical transformation of society and instead safeguard their pocketbooks, selling themselves to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, as a result of our struggle and militancy, we became familiar with the darkest corners of this democracy—the Carabineros Police Intelligence Directorate (DIPOLCAR) police stations where we were savagely tortured under the supervision of the now deceased General Bernales; the Dirty War instigated by Jorge Burgos, Marcelo Schilling, Mario Fernández, Enrique Krauss, Belisario Velasco, Nelson Mery, Isidro Solís, and Claudio Martínez, among others; and all the weight of the law, with visiting ministers who had acknowledged Nazi affiliations, as well as totally biased sentences decreed by the “distinguished Military Justice System.” But that’s Democracy, right?
What was your ideological evolution like during the 1990s?
Since the mid-1990s, a vast distance has gradually opened up between me and the Castroist-Guevarist-Marxist-Leninist culture that created and sustained the various political-military groups and movements that fought Pinochet, which were hit hard during the early years of the Coordination of Parties for Democracy. Since then, I’ve moved toward autonomous and horizontal organizational practices in recognition of the need to destroy the entirety of the existent, since a dignified life is impossible under Capital’s alienated and decadent social reality. I’ve arrived at the total conviction that the only thing we should construct is the Capacity to Offensively Resist the continued ravages of Power, which is attempting to annihilate all vestiges of the proletarian memory that guides us in our inevitable dreams of total liberation.
When you get out of prison, what will motivate you to stay organized?
The clear conviction of knowing that the function of all the changes that have taken place during the last 20 years has been to maximize profit margins via the worst kinds of exploitation, thus making the rich even richer. Thousands of other reasons as well: Because we don’t believe in Capitalism; because the extent of misery is irrefutably growing; because the criminalization of poverty is creating more prisons and jailers, which lock up the poor 99% of the time; because social repression is intensifying; because of the extreme violence exemplified by the opulence of the rich and the bourgeois, who spend more money in a single weekend than a proletarian manages to accumulate during a lifetime of work. And there are thousands of reasons more, believe me.
What relationships do you have with past political organs?
None. In my case, there is no interest.
What is the Kamina Libre Collective?
The Kamina Libre Collective was a political prisoner collective that existed between 1998 and 2004, when it was dissolved as the result of a collective decision taken at the time of its formation. We were a space that always related horizontally to groups, individuals, and organizations in order to establish an anti-prison practice that broke with the classic Leninist-left vision of dividing the reality of imprisonment between political prisoners and ordinary prisoners, which ignores the fact that all varieties of marginalization and crime result from the social conditions of existence in contemporary Class Society. Therefore, every prisoner is a political prisoner, regardless of the concrete fact that we know we are prisoners whom the State deals with differently because of our subversive practice and militancy. This means that we have been made to experience “maximum-security treatment” for the last 16 years, which justifies every kind of injustice, endorsed by Judicial Power with absolute silence and complicity.
Through Kamina Libre, we formed a vast universe of relationships with anti-prison expressions in different parts of the world, developed countless days of protest in prison and on the streets, and in a way coordinated the basis for what—with its highs and lows—has become the last decade of clearly Anti-Capitalist Anti-Prison Resistance in Chile.
You talk about Social War. What is that?
The Social War imposed on us by Power and the State is the daily struggle to free all Social Rebels via an insurrectional perspective that attempts to confront the totality of the oppressive, repressive, and exploitative existent. By demanding constant attack on all aspects of Capitalist Life, combat develops simultaneously in all spheres of reality. It’s not a strategy of War defined by a group that focuses on a leader, a Vanguardist concept, or military strikes and advances. Rather, it’s the diffuse, everyday multiplication of autonomous action by Rebels and Insurrectionists who can no longer tolerate this shitty life, this social spectacle called Democracy.
Is violence a valid political tool?
First of all, our violence is more than a political tool because it is situated in a human-scaled space called Dignity. That’s what motivates us to respond to the dishonorable Violence used by Capital and the State, understanding that it is they who hold the monopoly on violence. Global Capitalism, the history of the formation of the Chilean state, and the daily life of the oppressed and exploited of this country tell the story of Violence used as a tool of subjugation. When some individual or collective then takes action against it and rebels, the result is criminalization, persecution, defamation, or death. This paradigm of inverted reality is perhaps most evident as applied to the Nation of Mapuche People. The Chilean state has done nothing but violate them systematically for 200 years, yet when they organize and fight back, they are considered terrorists. During these 20 years of democracy, the selective murder of popular fighters and combatants has not stopped, nor has the torture in prisons and police stations. Permanent harassment through threats and beatings, arbitrary arrests, set-ups, and repression directed at specific groups of people in struggle has been the method used by the State and its police—in conjunction with the press and the Judiciary—to maintain its practice of Political Violence. We are only defending ourselves.
You and your comrades accuse the State of persecuting you because of your past. What has that persecution consisted of?
A number of us wound up getting out of prison between 2004 and 2005. Since then, our monitoring by police intelligence has never stopped, with varied, permanent harassment being the constant: anonymous telephone threats, nighttime beatings that recall the names of dead comrades, arbitrary arrests, forced involvement in fictitious proceedings, stolen cars, home invasions and stolen computers, video and audio surveillance. And from time to time, an exasperating hostility that gets in the way of leading a relatively “normal” life. In this country, persecution as State policy exists and is reaching its zenith right now by entangling several comrades in the farcical set-up of the “Bombings Case.”
What do you think of District Attorney Peña and his work? And Xavier Armendáriz?
They perform roles typical of those who, hiding behind their jobs, make an ideological and political compromise with Democracy and class society. Each leaves his mark, which is duly noted. In the case of “Mr. Peña,” the overbearing arrogance of his appointment now sees him enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, but at the cost of the arrest and imprisonment of countless people who have nothing to do with what they are being accused of. He knows it, the police also know it, and it’s obvious they won’t take one step back, since the resolution of this case is an urgent necessity—of a theatrical nature—for the Piñera administration. The important thing is to take people prisoner who haven’t been randomly chosen, to the extent of violating the very legality they say they’re defending. Alejandro Peña’s megalomaniacal grandiloquence is the characteristic most valued by the police, who are are incredibly eager to find “culprits” now that they have suffered a permanent tactical defeat in their attempt to neutralize a reality of struggle that they are incapable of understanding.
Just remember the ridiculous attempt a few months ago to link a Pakistani citizen to former Lautarista militants involved in the “Security Case,” or the desperate stupidity of prosecutors and police when they appeared with their famous explosive traces. There’s simply no name for it.
Have you entered a plea in the proceedings? If so, why?
Regarding the Security Case, those of us arrested in Argentina haven’t entered a plea since we have nothing to say. The sentence was already determined before our arrest, and now all that remains are the formalities of an irregularity-plagued process yet to be concluded despite the more than three years that have passed since the events took place. What’s more, we’re convinced that the State and the police want us dead and that right now we’re a real legal “nuisance,” since in order to be able to sentence us the facts would have to consistently justify the staging of the whole show that put us in prison: permanent delays, shoddy investigations—in short, “a lot of smoke but no fire.”
What is the bombings phenomenon responding to? Why is it happening?
It’s my impression that no “Bombings Phenomenon” exists. Rather, what does exist is a subversive, anti-capitalist practice that expresses itself in multiple ways. And despite being purposely made invisible by the different governments of the past 20 years, it has perpetuated and distinguished itself as an inevitable expression of intensified attack on this putrid commodity society.
It’s also my impression that the operations they carry out, the arrests they make, and the fabricated culprits they show off will continue, because there is an excess of reasons and motives for all of it. It’s the Social Violence of the powerful that triggers the existence of an Attacking Resistance that responds—outside the margins of the political show—to our degrading, inhuman treatment by the dominant class.
What is prison life like? Could you describe your routine?
Prison, as a comprehensive institution created to socially command and discipline according to standardized sanctions, seeks to destroy the indomitable spirit of those who fight for Total Liberation. In our case, we are now being kept at High-Security Prison, where we already spent over 10 years and where we currently coexist in groups of no more than 20 prisoners, in limited space under a regime that provides for eight hours in the yard or outside our cells. During that time, we live collectively, playing sports, talking, reading, interacting. In general, monotony is the permanent characteristic of days that only differentiate themselves when we can be with our families during the weekly visit.
For me, prison has been an unwanted, unsought circumstance of a chosen life of struggle, which I am deeply proud of. It’s not easy to live in daily confrontation with the jailer’s repressive practices. It’s not easy to be far away from the ones you love most. It’s not easy to be locked up for so long. But those are the circumstances that temper your character and will to Resist, and that’s the life I’ve chosen.
Additionally, an imprisoned subversive is never alone and will never be alone, wherever he is and wherever they put him.