The new Venezuelan government has upped the ante on security by creating a special murder unit and placing thousands of soldiers on the streets, in new attempts to tackle the country's dire violent crime levels.
"We have created a special body for the search and capture of citizens involved in homicides," Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez announced, without giving details of how many officers the new police unit would comprise or how it would operate, reported EFE.
Meanwhile around 3,000 members of Venezuela's Armed Forces were deployed Monday on the streets of Miranda state, where Caracas is located, as the government implements its previously-announced plan to use the military to fight crime.
"We are putting the Armed Forces on the street because it is a necessity, and they will stay on the streets for the time that we need them to stabilize security," said President Nicolas Maduro, reported AFP.
InSight Crime Analysis
At least 19 different security plans were implemented during Hugo Chavez's 14 years in power, none of them successfully. Homicide rates doubled or tripled during the same period, according to different figures.
Whether Maduro's plans can succeed where Chavez's failed remains to be seen, but there is at least one reason to be optimistic about what's been announced so far: neighboring authorities have reported a substantial drop in suspected drug flights leaving Venezuela. Honduran and US authorities say suspected flights arriving from Venezuela in Honduras (the most often used route) are down from about ten detected per month last year, to about three per month this year. These authorities attribute this drop to increased Venezuelan law enforcement activity.
However, there are key factors behind Venezuela's violence that new police units and soldiers on the streets will not address, such as an abundance of guns and lax firearms legislation, and a weak and politicized judicial system. Moreover, endemic corruption within the security forces themselves is a major driver of violence and criminality.