HomeNewsBriefTensions in Venezuela as Collectives Bury Members Killed by Police
BRIEF

Tensions in Venezuela as Collectives Bury Members Killed by Police

COLECTIVOS / 10 OCT 2014 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Members of a "collective" killed by police were buried in a public funeral in Caracas, amid concerns that these armed civilian groups -- many originally supplied and trained by the Chavez government -- could be slipping out of the state's control. 

On October 7, five members of two political collectives, known as the "5th of March" (5 de Marzo) and "Shield of the Revolution" (Escudo de la Revolucion), were killed by national policemen who were raiding a downtown high-rise building. The victims included the leader of the 5th of March, Jose Odreman, and his second-in-command, Michel Contreras. 

EFE reported that during the funeral procession -- which was accompanied by a police caravan -- some of those in attendance shouted criticism of the government, such as "they're using us as disposable cups, when they need us then they sure call on us." This could possibly be in reference to the fact that in the past, the Chavista government has relied on the political collectives -- which by and large are based in Caracas' poorer neighborhoods -- as promoters of the ruling socialist party. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Local Caracas celebrity Humberto Lopez -- who has made a name for himself appearing at government events dressed as Che Guevara told one local media station that the collectives "are preparing for war." While Lopez does not appear to be formally associated with the collectives, the possibility of the collectives "going to war" in Caracas has long been feared by many Venezuelans.

Collectives began organizing in Caracas as early as the 1970s. Under President Hugo Chavez's administration (1999-2013), they became a major source of support for his government, particularly after the 2002 coup attempt against Chavez. In the words of Venezuela expert Rebecca Hanson, "some collectives vociferously protect what they see as their right to be armed". They have remained armed despite multiple attempts by Venezuela to disarm the civilian population. Some of these armed collectives collaborated with the security forces in the repression of protesters earlier this year.

It is possible that these latest killing, particularly of the commanders of the 5th of March could cause the government's relationship with the collectives to deteriorate. Some of the collectives have received government funding, which may have been reduced after Chavez's death, perhaps forcing them to turn to other, criminal, sources of revenue.

SEE ALSO: FBL Profile

President Nicolas Maduro's government must play a delicate game when handling the Caracas collectives. There is another example in Venezuela of a pro-government armed group that slipped out of the state's control: the guerrilla group the Bolivian Liberation Forces (FBL), which caused headaches for Chavez by declaring itself to be pro-Chavista, while simultaneously conducting criminal activities along the Colombia-Venezuela border. 

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

SECURITY POLICY / 23 NOV 2018

Two sweeping investigations into police units serving along Venezuela’s border were ordered after the arrest of 15 officers, several of…

BRAZIL / 26 FEB 2013

A report by the United Nations states that the influence of South American criminal groups in West Africa may be…

VENEZUELA / 10 MAY 2012

Allegations of high-level corruption in Venezuela continue to mount, with two former government officials alleging that rival drug trafficking factions…

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…