HomeNewsBriefPhotos of 'Armed Children' in Venezuela Spark Controversy
BRIEF

Photos of 'Armed Children' in Venezuela Spark Controversy

VENEZUELA / 1 FEB 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Images of children armed with what look like assault weapons have sparked a heated debate in Venezuela over President Hugo Chavez’s support for armed militias in the country.

Colectivo La Piedrita is a pro-Chavez group based in western Caracas which bills itself as a community political organization but which Chavez himself has previously denounced. On January 23, La Piedrita celebrated the anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958.

This week, photos emerged which appear to have been taken at the event and posted on the group’s Facebook page, showing children carrying M-16 assault rifles. The children are wearing bandanas and seated in front of a mural depicting Jesus and the Virgin Mary holding Kalashnikovs. Other photos, seemingly from the same event, suggest that Venezuelan congressman Robert Serra was present, indicating some level of official support for the display.

The release of the photos caused something of a political firestorm in Venezuela. Potential presidential opposition politician Pablo Perez criticized the photos, saying: "Instead of guns, these children should have a computer, a book, a bat, a ball, a glove, or a musical instrument."

The Chavez administration itself has condemned the images, with Interior Minister Tarek El-Aissami calling them “morally reprehensible.”

Diego Arria, another strong opponent of Chavez, criticized the president via Twitter, claiming that the President only distanced himself from the photos because they were distributed so widely.

For his part, Serra has said that the photos taken of the children were taken at a separate event in November, which he did not attend. Meanwhile, Colectivo La Piedrita claims that the rifles were made of plastic, and were part of a skit meant to commemorate the demobilization of guerrilla groups in the country during the 1960s. The children allegedly handed over toy rifles in exchange for copies of the Constitution.

InSight Crime Analysis

The incident draws attention to the highly politicized nature of Venezuelan society. Ever since Chavez took office, the discourse used by his supporters and detractors has become extremely polarized. Chavez has not helped this issue by arming civilian militias for political purposes, which may have contributed to the rise in street violence in the country.

The sight of small children with guns in their hand, real or not, touches on the broader issue of youth violence in Venezuela. As InSight Crime has reported, guns are widely available among poor youths in the country, and gun violence disproportionately affects those between 15 and 29 years old.

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.

Tags

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

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 29 JAN 2016

A Colombian airline executive has turned himself over to US authorities and is expected to testify about drug flights leaving…

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 9 NOV 2016

The recent arrest in Honduras of a lesser-known suspect in Venezuela's “narco nephews” case may bring to light additional information…

VENEZUELA / 19 JUL 2012

Venezuelan authorities have seized 20 tons of liquid cocaine bound for Mexico, highlighting the increasing popularity of smuggling the drug in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…