HomeNewsBriefVenezuela 'Peace Zones' Could Heighten Impunity: Expert
BRIEF

Venezuela 'Peace Zones' Could Heighten Impunity: Expert

COLECTIVOS / 10 FEB 2014 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

Proposals by the Venezuelan government to form "peace zones" will just enhance the power of criminal gangs and the impunity they enjoy, according to a security expert, whose analysis, it should be noted, precedes the actual details and implementation of the proposed policy.

According to Roberto Briceño Leon, director of non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory, recent events in Ocumare del Tuy, a neighborhood about 45 miles south of Caracas, are evidence of the tight hold gangs have over many urban areas, reported El Universal.

Last week, a police station in the town was attacked with Molotov cocktails, and a shopkeeper kidnapped and then later released. Briceño said the brazen attacks were similar to those carried out in Caracas neighborhood 23 de Enero, where gangs had blocked roads.

"The wrong message is being sent and to permit actions of this type by criminal gangs and armed groups goes against any possibility of pacification of territories," he said, referring to a recent announcement by President Nicolas Maduro that "peace territories" would be created in Venezuela.

"Pacification must never imply impunity (…) because that would be more like a mafia-style peace," said Briceño.

Neighborhoods across the country live permanently under the control of criminal groups, he said, warning that while such groups respected and obeyed former President Hugo Chavez, who died in March, the same could not be said for Maduro.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is as much a political as it is a security question for Venezuela's government. "Colectivos" -- armed groups in Caracas who profess to be carrying out political and social activities as part of the Bolivarian Revolution -- were allowed to control neighborhoods and act violently without repercussions for years under Chavez. Maduro has maintained the status quo, terrified that any pushback would eat away at his dwindling popular support in the neighborhoods that he most needs to hang on to power.

To be fair, it is impossible to make any accurate predictions about what Venezuelan "peace territories" will mean until details are provided on what they will entail, how they will be created and how they will be enforced. Whether such details will be provided, or whether Maduro's announcement will just vanish into thin air -- as is so often the case -- remains to be seen.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

In this context, Briceño is right to point out that criminal gangs have tight control over many Venezuelan neighborhoods and act with impunity; such a security situation makes Maduro's announcement somewhat farcical.

On top of this, overall impunity is sky high, with  92 out of every hundred murders going unsolved. What's more, rampant  corruption within the security forces, broken judicial institutions and the widespread availability of firearms would all need to be addressed before any talk of peace zones could become a reality.

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 KOKI / 6 AUG 2021

Police in Venezuela have killed a notorious gang leader while others are reportedly hiding in Colombia, raising questions about the…

ELITES AND CRIME / 7 SEP 2021

The visual is an arresting one. A Venezuelan army sergeant, his face swollen and his nose bleeding from a beating,…

BRAZIL / 15 MAY 2012

Rio de Janeiro's Security Secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame talks police corruption, militia groups, and the next phase of the favela…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

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.