Friday, October 17, 2014

History: Comparing the Two Parallel Political Murders – that of Venezuelan Congressman Robert Serra with that of Soviet Party Boss Sergei Kirov

                          The Goya painting of Saturn Devouring his Son illustrating that "Revolutions Devour their Children"

 The recent murder of Venezuelan Congressman Robert Serra and his aide, Maria Herrera, whose corpses were discovered on October 1, 2014, strongly prompted me to talk with numerous Venezuelan acquaintances in Miami regarding this affair.

Several  concurred with me on the feasibility that the current Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, was somehow involved or even masterminded the plot that resulted in these murders. The facts of the case point to the plausibility that this incident was an inside job, led by and supported secretly by the machinery of the regime.

Why would Maduro, you might ask, have masterminded the killing of Robert Serra who was a Socialist lawmaker?

I would answer that if history is any indicator, a dictator would have reasons to have this supposed political ally killed. 

Let me list a few for starters:

  • Maduro inherited, and did not earn in his own right, the mantle of leader from Hugo Chavez, then won a suspect election.  Yes, it is highly likely that his triumph in this election was rigged.

  • Maduro has proven that he is not really presidential material.  Many on the Venezuelan political left finding him falling short of the necessary requisite political and personal qualities for a worthy enough leader for them to follow.

  • Robert Serra had often remarked publicly how he laments the atmosphere of violence and crime in Venezuela. Moreover, a Spanish language newspaper article implicated Robert Serra has having developed close ties with the Colectivos, gangs of armed hooligans specializing in the intimidation of opponents of the regime.

  • Maduro may have had a tumultuous relationship with Robert Serra. Note that there is an acute absence of material that neither clears nor blames Nicolás Maduro of having either an adverse or harmonious relationship with the late Robert Serra on things political.  There is very little information such as online transcripts of speeches delivered by Robert Serra on the floor of the Venezuelan National Assembly. 

  • Nicolás Maduro´s regime may have had a need to sacrifice an unblemished lamb such as a Robert Serra for a martyr in order to rally public opinion inside Venezuela and outside the country around him. 

  • He also needed villains such as the numerous people and groups he pointed his finger at –  that is, to take attention away from himself and his failed would-be mandate.

  • Maduro may have had fear of Robert Serra becoming an overwhelming political rival who would be poised to unseat him.  As pointed out above, Serra was an educated man with credentials and was a Chavista rising star in Venezuelan politics. He also seemed like someone with sufficient personal charisma and would have been in position to upstage him.
In the matter of Maria Herrera, there is little information. According to the ABC article, she had let in the killers unaware of their intentions. Was she part of the plot, an accomplice? Maybe.  If she was, she was betrayed.

The psychology of crimes this nature, surrounded by massive political intrigue and maneuvering – is enthralling to read about, to speculate about, and to research.

Certainly, the stabbing murder this congressman and of his aide, is that kind of topic. I strongly suspect that this political murder is characteristic and reminiscent of the great political murders that occurred throughout the political world of the 1900s from the beginning of the First World War until the end of the Twentieth Century and into the present state of the world.

The Beginning of Comparisons

This murder to me is reminiscent of the famous historical murder that occurred in the Stalinist Russia of 1930s as he, Joseph Stalin, was in the process of launching this bloody purge that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Russians at the very beginning phase, alone, of that purge.

 I detected traces of Stalinist mischief, of paranoia, of Machiavellianism wherever ruthless people ascend to power over countries. 

Venezuela under this Maduro regime is certainly that sort of unfortunate country.

Very characteristic of Stalinist intrigue and mischief is the case study of the political murder of Sergei Kirov, once a loyal henchman of Stalin and later a much suspected rival who had to be killed off in order for Stalin to feel himself politically stable.

I found several points of parallel comparison in the details of the circumstances the prevailed in each of these two murders, so much so,I regard them both as parallel to each other in the sphere of the study of political violence and dictatorial countries.

When I first became informed of the news of this murder of the Venezuelan Congressman and his aide, I was disinterested. It was only after Maduro and members of his group to this murder began the feverish finger pointing at the United States, at Alvaro Uribe, at Colombian paramilitary hit teams, and at conservatives in Miami - and only 24 hour after the bodies were discovered, that I began to feel suspicious and began to question Maduro's take on all this.

First of all, why Uribe?  Why him? What did he have to gain from any of this? I would say he had nothing to gain. At this point, it began to seem to me that the Venezuelan president or dictator was grasping at straws, desperately seeking someone to blame. Furthermore, he had also blamed opposition groups inside Venezuela.

He blamed paramilitary Colombian groups of having done this crime. He blamed right wing politicians here in Miami of being involved. Who did he not blame? The Cuban press itself got into the act. They started finger-pointing at paramilitary, right-wing groups, here there, everywhere. They actually nobody to not blame.
 Much more, then the killings themselves, is the psychology of how the concerned national leaders: Stalin and Maduro – exploited these murders for their own personal benefit in politics.

Objective Facts of the Serra Murder Case

The Spanish newspaper, ABC, wrote a very revealing article about this crime.  It opened up with Maria Herrera, supposedly the companion or aid of Congressman Robert Serra, opening the door of the home of the victim to six men, two of which were dressed in Santeria costumes. 

The article continued with the account of how both she and the downstairs floor and he, the congressman who was at the upper floor of his house, were both tied up almost immediately upon the entrance of those six men into that house. The article continued by stating that the six men were inside a house for full 30 minutes and left after having killed, with knives, both the woman and the Congressman.

Moreover the assassins left the house after having also taken a large amount of money and two firearms.  Without going into detail, the article also mentioned a major rift between followers of the late Hugo Chavez and followers of his heir, Nicolas Maduro over economic trouble.

The Maduro regime reacted with hysterical indignation over the article  and accused the newspaper of ethical violations in journalism. He accused ABC of seeking to undermine and subvert his regime or government.  Now, why the indignation?

The article must be true to have evoked such a reaction from this regime.

Other details about this case regarding the slain Venezuelan Congressman are that he could have used those guns to defend himself and the woman. His attackers were armed with knives whereas he possessed guns which he could have overwhelmed them. 

Had these men armed only with knives been truly - paramilitary attackers, they would not have been men armed only with knives. Rather a hit squad of professional mercenary or Army soldiers would more likely have come with high-powered military grade assault rifles and other sophisticated military gear for such a high-profile killing.

What's up with this accusation? Moreover, another blog with more detailed information about Serra describes him as being in a house very close to the presidential palace. This other blog mentions that there were high-powered security cameras and video equipment all over the exterior of the area.

It would have been very difficult, almost impossible for a commando group to infiltrate and penetrate the Congressman's house.

Furthermore, this Congressman was often, practically always in the company of armed bodyguards. It was mentioned that two bodyguards of his had been killed at a previous time. Furthermore, the current bodyguard of his, one named Edwin Torres, who was the head of the bodyguard detail protecting Robert Serra is now in custody being blamed for being the mastermind of the plot and of the killing itself. 

Historical Murder Plot Very Similar in Psychology to that of Serra 

Parallel in history to this murder narrated above, is the political murder of Sergei Kirov. Kirov had been a henchman of Stalin and he rose his stature as Stalin's political godson.   He had been in charge of the suppression of the Kulaks, the expropriation of grain, had persecuted and killed scores of enemies of his communist comrades during the Russian Civil War of the early 1920s, had managed a prison camp as well. Mr. Kirov was definitely not a weak  communist.

However, he was more practical than fanatical in the practice of his communist ideology. He rose, eventually, become the boss of Leningrad's Communist Party organization. His very popular among communist delegates and deputies of the communist ranks.

Lately, in 1934, he was showing an independent streak that bothered Stalin, his political godfather. He had acted on certain occasions contrary Stalin's ambitions and interests. He even rose his voice to Stalin in a bitter quarrel regarding the distribution of food supplies to Leningrad factory workers. Finally, Stalin met with him at a resort, his private estate or dacha in Sochi.  On this occasion, Stalin reached the decision that he would have to order the killing of Kirov.

Stalin delegated the plot to have Kirov murder to his secret police's top man, Genrikh Grigoryevich Yagoda. In turn, since the murder of Kirov would occur in Leningrad -  where he, Kirov, had his offices, the Leningrad NKVD boss, Vania Zaporozhets, would have to be a team player also. Moreover, Stalin himself was informed of all these developments.

After having pursued attempts to find a suitable assassin and fall guy to do their dirty work for them, - the NKVD section in charge of organizing this hit along with the agent provocateur succeeded in finding such a man in the person of Leonid Nikolayev: an embittered, half-crazy, unemployable, and thoroughly frustrated individual. He had once held an important post as head of a political prison camp but failed in his job. Later, he was given a job as a guard. Here too he failed. Finally no one would hire him.

This one blamed everybody in the government for his misfortune. He even kept diary in which he jotted down every single injustice and misdeed imposed on him by the big guys of the Stalinist regime. Kirov was among those against whom Nikolayev held a grudge for he represented their class - rather than Kirov personally. The agent provocateur managed to manipulate him to become willing to do this murder.

The agent provocateur then connected Nikolayev to Zaporozhets. A handgun was provided to this assassin. Entry passes were provided to this assassin.

The assassin managed to enter the building where Kirov had his offices, unopposed. And he was armed on that day, that afternoon of December 1, 1934. The building was historical architecture known as Smolny.

There were two sets of guards who should have been there to stop him from getting in. There was an outer guard post that merely checked his pass and let him enter. 

There was a second post of guards, the inner guard who had the first time he tried to enter armed, stopped him on the first occasion in which Nikolayev attempted entry. They even had him arrested, they turn them over to secret police agents who interrogated him since they had seized his briefcase with the revolver inside it.

The next thing that happened is that they were ordered, by orders from Moscow, to return to him both briefcase and revolver. How could this have happened in a dictatorship where citizens had neither access nor permission to bear arms?

The only thing that explains such an anomaly is that the dictatorship based in Moscow, under orders from Stalin, wanted him to do that murder of Kirov. It can be no other explanation to account for this. Now, the second time on this December 1, 1934 day, the inner guards who had previously arrested him on the first occasion were now absent from their posts.

He entered and went all the way up to the third floor where to Kirov's office was. Kirov had gone to the Smolny at 4 PM on a day when he should not even have been there. He was unexpected there but he was there. How did this assassin know that his target would be there?  There is only one logical explanation – the secret police top bosses in Leningrad involved in the plot  - were on hand to make sure that it took place in the afternoon  -  at the hands of Nikolayev. 

Kirov had been working on a speech he needed to deliver that night and now appeared at the Smolny building. Nikolayev the assassin arrived at 4:30 PM. Kirov had arrived only thirty minutes before Nikolayev. When Kirov reached the third floor, he went into a meeting room while his bodyguard, a man named Botisov who prepared a tray with tea and cakes.

The assassin lurked in the hallway as the meeting progressed. The bodyguard was oblivious of him the whole time. Then, it was a phone call from Moscow and Botisov answered it. 

The caller was asking for Kirov to leave the meeting room and attend to the call. Well, Botisov went inside and notified Kirov. Kirov left the meeting room to go pick up the phone at the tele printer room where the telephone was.

At that moment, Kirov, unaware that his assassin was closely walking behind him – walked a few steps and suddenly - was shot in the back of his head by the revolver in the hand of his assassin, Nikolayev. Immediately after, Nikolayev fainted right next to the body of the man he just killed. People from all over the hallway came to see what happened.

A few moments later, the assassin Nikolayev, regained conscience and tried to stab himself dead but failed. He was  arrested and taken away.  Kirov's bodyguard, Botisov,was arrested too. Moreover, that same night, the bodyguard was killed inside a truck on route to NKVD Headquarters to be interrogated. He died that same night.

Stalin was immediately contacted and informed about this murder of his political godson, Sergei Kirov. In response, Stalin ordered a gathering of his underlings and arranged for a train transport him and them to Leningrad immediately where he would preside personally over the interrogations of the suspects.

In summary, practically everybody  who was closely or even remotely associated with this crime or - imagined by Stalin to be in any way associated with this crime – wound up killed. Furthermore, the aftermath this crime was that there followed a purge the cost the lives of every Communist Party member that Stalin wanted dead or removed from this path.

Every faithful comrade and servant of Lenin, every political rival and opponent, and every associate, friend, family member, or even acquaintance of all these people also perished. The purge lasted some four years to play out.

Even the Armed Forces were affected, hundreds of top ranking military officers were killed off. The murder of Sergei Kirov wound up costing all of these people their lives. The original murder, was the one act that Stalin exploited to the hilt in enabling himself to get rid of any possible or imaginable independence of him on the part of anyone at all in the Soviet Union.

Now you see, my reader, how dictators work? Do you see how willing they all to murder anybody who would stand up to them in any possible way, shape or form? You should.

Events like these have been happening from the beginning of time to the present. 

Just as Sergei Kirov was used and then disposed of by his political godfather, Joseph Stalin – so too it is plausible that an unstable, ruthless dictator such as Nicolas Maduro too should not be held above suspicion, especially not a time in which his own party is unhappy with him and would like him to disappear. 

Accounts such as these are the stuff of dictatorial realpolitik everywhere and at any time.


Eugene Lyons, Stalin: Czar of all the Russias. New York, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1940

Montgomery Hyde, Stalin: The History of a Dictator. New York, Harper-Collins Distribution Services, 1971

Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990

Robert Payne, The Rise and Fall of Stalin. New York, Avon Books (A division of the Hearst Corporation), 1965

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