HomeNewsAnalysisMeeting Raises Question: Just What is Citizen Security in Venezuela?
ANALYSIS

Meeting Raises Question: Just What is Citizen Security in Venezuela?

SECURITY POLICY / 23 SEP 2014 BY REBECCA HANSON* EN

On September 9 to 10, Venezuela's Attorney General's office organized a conference called "Prevention is Citizen Security." It sought to bring government representatives, academics, police, and community organizers together to discuss prevention "as an indispensable tool to guarantee citizen security."

The event brought together a diverse group, including the Vice Rector of the National Security University, Jose Garcia Pinto, the Minister of Interior and Justice, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, Universidad Central professors Andres Antillano and Keymer Avila, community council spokespersons, and other community activists.

This article originally appeared on the Washington Office on Latin America blog Venezuela Politics and Human Rights. See original article here.

Marino Alvarado, the director of PROVEA, one of Venezuela's historic human rights NGOs, also attended. PROVEA has had a tense relationship with the government in recent years due to its criticism of the government over a number of issues such as housing access, citizen security, and indigenous rights.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega's address to the conference promoted non-punitive and progressive policies to reduce crime. She highlighted the prevention of crime "before it occurs" as one of the most "vital functions" of the new National Bolivarian Police (PNB), whose officers are trained to rely on dialogue and mediation to keep conflict from escalating. She portrayed the new police model as "complimenting and strengthening the commitment of the National Executive to citizen security based...in preventative work in communities."

She also argued for a treatment approach to drug usage in the country, suggesting that punitive responses to this and other crimes generate conflict and violence rather than resolving it.

Ortega Diaz announced the creation of a national-level prevention organization that would connect "forces into a national prevention offensive, where the experience gained by each institution" would be brought together.

The conference represents a continuation of the Chavez and now Maduro governments' efforts to develop non-punitive security strategies to reduce crime. A number of participants who have been critical of the government's efforts reported that officials were open to listening to negative evaluations of crime prevention and police reform and discussing participatory, preventative and holistic approaches.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

Yet comments made by Minister of Interior and Justice Miguel Rodriguez Torres just days before the conference raise questions regarding just what the domain of these progressive policies might be.

In an interview days before the conference Rodriguez Torres attributed most violent crime in Venezuela to gang violence that he does not consider within the purview of citizen security. He said 76 out of every 100 deaths in Venezuela are due to confrontations between gangs or gangs and police. These, he concluded, are not directly attributable to a problem of citizen security in the country, but to "differences between gangs that have developed a culture of violence, arms and such, [believing] that the only solution to their differences is to kill each other. Even if you contain it today, at some point they will look for and kill each other."

In the same interview he asked, "What is going on in a society where the differences between a couple are resolved [with violence]? These are deaths and homicides that are added to the numbers; but they are not a citizen security problem. They are problems of the home."

The minister's logic is common in Venezuela and effectively makes violence a citizens' problem rather than a problem of citizen security. His statements make it difficult to know just what type of violence he thinks the Venezuelan government is responsible for preventing.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Social scientists Veronica Zubillaga and Manuel Llorens criticized Rodriguez Torres' comments, suggesting they preclude a discussion of the institutional practices and policies that are principally responsible for crime (for example, rampant police violence and widespread availability of firearms and ammunition).

This discrepancy between the Attorney General and Minister's statements reflect the tensions between militarized and civilian policing models that have been present from the beginning of the Chavez government's efforts at police reform.

Indeed, within months of the inauguration of the PNB in 2009, President Chavez also signed off on the creation of the DIBISE, a plan that put thousands of National Guard officers on the streets to carry out citizen security functions they are not trained for. They rely on stop and search techniques and detentions. More recent launches of the "Patriotic Secuirty Plan" (Plan Patria Segura) and the "Intelligent Patrolling" (Patrullaje Inteligente) plan suggest a continuation of militarized approaches.

The results can be seen in the numbers. Two years after the DIBISE came into effect, the incarcerated population in Venezuela had increased from 30,483 to 50,000. Furthermore, research shows that militarized policing strategies disproportionately criminalize poor young men and concentrating on petty street crime.

*This article originally appeared on the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) blog Venezuela Politics and Human Rights. See original article here.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL CHAPO / 25 OCT 2019

Amid a wave of national and international criticism for his handling of the Culiacán meltdown last week, Mexican President Andrés…

VENEZUELA / 8 JUN 2015

Sky high violence and clashes between criminals and security forces show the scale of the security crisis facing Venezuela, a…

DISPLACEMENT / 2 JUN 2021

The number of displaced people within Mexico has increased for the first time in three years, indicating that the country's…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…