Venezuelan Thieves and Murderers: A Pact with the Government?


Protest in Ocumare del Tuy. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Generally speaking, the issue of violence is extremely complicated and multifaceted. I will focus on something that happened in Miranda, a Venezuelan state that borders with the capital district, some days ago.

A week ago, an image with an announcement was circulated over social networks. The note reported that public transportation services, commercial activities and schools had been paralyzed for more than five hours as a result of a protest staged by motorcyclists.

From what I read, there were both motorcyclists and pedestrians at the protest. Newspapers and word-of-mouth reports concur that several protesters were armed, that the local police was unable to control them and that the National Guard took hours to turn up at the scene.

There’s general agreement that the cause of the protest was the death of three individuals, reportedly members of the Los Orejones gang, at the hands of the Scientific, Penal and Criminalistics Investigations Corps (CICPC).

The other gang members, neighbors and relatives of the deceased, took to the streets to protest, alleging the innocence of those killed, giving store owners and schools a “heads up” before.

The original report on the incident published a doctored photo. A journalist, lacking an actual still of the events that were unfolding, I imagine, had the idea of using a still from a Venezuelan film currently in production.

I find it curious that no official newspaper has even mentioned this incident (which is still ongoing). The Correo del Orinoco is the only newspaper that denied the story, claiming the photo is a movie still.

Hundreds of people believed the Correo del Orinoco, which once accused the “dirty” opposition of trying to manipulate and spread panic among the people.

Those who do not live in Venezuela could then get the vague idea that those who do not support the government are to blame for the country’s rising insecurity.

What also caught my attention is how quickly the Ministerio Publico authorities undertook the investigation and got in contact with those involved in the protest – not to impose sanctions on them but to hear their concerns regarding the alleged violations perpetrated by members of the CICPC.

The protesters – who closed off the municipality wielding weapons, if you recall – allege that the CICPC opened fire on 3 unarmed men who were members of the Movimiento por la Paz y la Vida (“Peace and Life Movement”), that the government had broken the “peace accord” with this action.

Broadly speaking, the Peace and Life Movement is a government plan aimed at making streets safer and rescuing young people living in “humble neighborhoods” from a life of delinquency. This program, incidentally, has a budget of 400 million Bolivars at its disposal).

One of the men killed was both a member of a gang of robbers and murderers and the leader of the Peace and Life Movement in his neighborhood.

I imagine this is why the authorities have been so quick to respond to the protesters.

I am left to wonder: who answers the demands of the other residents of the municipality who live in fear, day after day, because of the actions of these gangs that come to an arrangement with the government, pledging to “keep the peace in the community”?