Back in my younger years, this was the way it was done in Venezuela. From the age of 18 till 25, you were expected to serve and if the military did not have enough people to fill the assigned yearly numbers, they went hunting for recruits. We called it Recluta.

Venezuelan military was as corrupted as the rest of its institutions. If you were a plain soldier doing your time, you were fully abused and treated as slave for the upper ranks and their political buddies. Very few were in real defense duties which it meant going to the border with Colombia and deal with the FARC and other assorted terrorist/guerrilla organizations and later with the Colombian cartels. Support was null to zero for the troops, so they learned to dig deep and avoid confrontations, something they were not successful sometimes. Imagine yourself a poorly trained, poorly equipped and unsupported trooper going against hardcore veterans of 30+ years of civil and guerrilla warfare.

So, you did your best to hide when you read in the paper that recruitment quotas were not met. More than once, my buds and I went to the movies only to see the military “recruiters” stand at the exits demanding papers which included the military registration card. If you were “excepted” (Only child, student, etc.) you would go free, but otherwise it was a straight trip to the “Jaula” (Cage or what it is known to all of you as paddy wagon) and then a quick trip to the local military base without a chance to notify anybody for 3 months.  The shit was that if the numbers were low in a year, they would “lose” your military exception papers and by the time shit was cleared, well, you have been already 6 months inside, go ahead and finish.

To say that there were a number of pissed off recruits is an understatement and that lead to the almost never reported cases upon cases of mass killings inside military installations by angry young men that were kidnapped from the streets, treated like shit and then given an FN FAL and expect they would say thank you and smile. I personally know of one case where a recruit killed at least 5 uniformed personnel in one night including a couple sergeants and one lieutenant. I saw the bodies come into the military hospital.

Reclutas died down when the economy tanked in Venezuela in the early to mid 80s. Young kids without a possibility of a good paying or even a crappy paying job, would volunteer to have three squares, a roof and medical plus being able to send some coin home to the family. Allegedly a new law passed and the Recluta system is no longer in action, but with teh economy going deeper into shit every second and more people trying to join in for benefits, we would never know if they would have followed the law.

Oh yes. I did my best and was never picked up nor I served in that shitshow of military. To say I was impressed at the military in the US is a frigging understatement. Hell, I wanted to join, but the future missus put a stop to that. I am neither sorry not embarrassed I did not do my “duty” in the Venezuelan Armed Forces. As I was told by a NG General friend of my dad: “This asshole would probably blow HQ and kill everybody inside.” when I mentioned if recruited, I wanted to be in demolitions.

PS: Another way to avoid the Recluta at night was to be with a date. It sems the upper crust of the military did not want to be raked over coals if some girls were left in the cold and unescorted in the late hours because their boyfriends were hauled away to “serve their country.”


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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

5 thoughts on “Russian-Style conscription: Been there.”
  1. In eighteenth and nineteenth century England the British Navy used the press gang system to fill out ships companies. If one was a merchant sailor, especially, it was worth it to avoid the pubs and flesh pots of Portsmouth, Belfast or other Naval ports and seek your pleasure further inland.

  2. Its always refreshing to hear from those who have “been there done that” in countries that have totalitarian gubmint. It make Freedom worth fightin for. I always said high school seniors should have to spend 5 days in cirao egypt in the city of the dead where average income it $12 a YEAR. Maybe! they would appreciate America a bit more..

  3. Have you considered collecting some of these stories and experiences into a book? You’ve lived through a lot and have one heck of a gift for storytelling and THAT is for sure a dying art.

    I can only imagine how that practice would affect your every day life and behavior

    1. A friend of a friend mine, after one weekend of sharing stories at a weekend vacation in the beach, said that we had lived some amazing tales. We just saw them as shit that happened to us, because “shit happens”, nothing we thought other people did not go through.
      Apparently not everybody had the same experiences.

      1. Oh for sure. Everyone has different roads they’ve walked down.
        What seems foreign or interesting to me may be mundane to others. Other way around goes the same. I have a story about being maced and tasered by my partner while wrestling a meth head who had been trying to cut metal off a shack with a hatchet or the time I tried to lasso the towns renowned magical escape artist donkeys.

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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