HomeNewsBriefDespite Rampant Crime, Venezuela’s ‘Peace Zones’ Remain
BRIEF

Despite Rampant Crime, Venezuela's 'Peace Zones' Remain

MEGABANDAS / 28 JAN 2015 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Venezuela’s year-old "Zonas de Paz” (Peace Zones) initiative shows no sign of coming to an end, despite troubling reports of overwhelming violence, highlighting the government's ineffective response to the country’s grave security situation.

"Peace zones" are sectors where Venezuela's security forces maintain no permanent presence and rarely enter. Vigilance by local residents is meant to replace policing in these areas, as a response to the mistrust that some communities feel towards police, who have been involved in crimes like kidnapping and extrajudicial killings.

But these designated areas have become safe havens for criminals and are often overrun by violence. In Miranda state, which contains the Caracas metro area and the largest number of peace zones, the murder rate within the peace zones was 105 per 100,000 residents in 2014, compared to 67 per 100,000 residents outside the zones, reported El Nacional

"You can't call these places lawless. But only in the sense that criminals are instituting their own law," Venezuelan journalist Javier Mayorca told InSight Crime.

Since their implementation in January 2014, kidnapping gangs appear to have been using the zones to hold victims, who regularly appear in them upon release, said Mayorca.  

InSight Crime Analysis

President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of the peace zones just weeks after the murder of a former beauty queen sparked public outrage over insecurity in what is one of the world's most violent nations.

As well as citizen vigilance, the plan was meant to include community development schemes, but was short on specific details. During the initial introductory phase, security expert Roberto Briceño expressed concerns that the zones would increase criminal impunity.

More than a year on, El Nacional reports the program has been marred by vague goals and inconsistent implementation, resulting in their current state. Despite this, Venezuela's Interior Minister Carmen Melendez has shown no signs of abandoning the program.  

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Peace zones are just one of an array of disastrous or poorly implemented security initiatives in Venezuela, including a disarmament law that failed to take guns off the streets. Amid the chaos, killings of police officers has gone up, and InSight Crime has predicted the security situation is only going to worsen in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government continues to refuse to release crime statistics, while trumpeting fanciful gains.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 27 SEP 2018

Recent US sanctions against four top Venezuela government officials and close collaborators, among them the country’s first lady, add new…

GAMECHANGERS / 12 JAN 2018

Venezuela's role as a hotbed for organized crime in the Americas has deepened this year. The country’s political, economic and…

VENEZUELA / 25 NOV 2011

The demand for bodyguards has surged by 70 percent in Venezuela in recent years, according to a bodyguard association, with…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…