HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Political Crisis Could Empower Criminal Actors
BRIEF

Venezuela Political Crisis Could Empower Criminal Actors

VENEZUELA / 24 OCT 2016 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly declared that the country has suffered a coup after the government blocked efforts to push for a recall of the president, deepening a political crisis that is fueling criminal activity in Venezuela.

In an emergency session on October 23, the coalition of opposition parties that dominates Venezuela's National Assembly passed a resolution calling for the restoration of constitutional order in the country.

Despite efforts to shut down the debate by pro-government protesters who stormed the chamber, the Assembly drafted a three-page document stating there had been a "rupture of constitutional order" and a "coup d'etat committed by the government of President Nicolas Maduro." The resolution came in response to events last week when Venezuela's National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral - CNE) shut down attempts to organize a recall referendum that could have removed Maduro from office.

The document calls for a special session to debate the position of President Maduro and the replacement of CNE officials as well as judges in the Supreme Court, which has increasingly been used to sideline the Assembly. It also calls for intervention from the international community to protect democracy in Venezuela and for the army to disobey any orders that are unconstitutional or undermine citizens' rights.

Maduro responded to the events with a statement accusing the opposition of "trying to take over power by unconstitutional means," reported the BBC.

InSight Crime Analysis

Venezuela's political crisis has the potential to affect the country's criminal dynamic in several ways, all of which could worsen an already dire security situation.

In its attempts to cling onto power, the government has tried to circumvent the growing political influence of the opposition by empowering two distinctly undemocratic forces that are already major players in Venezuelan organized crime.

Firstly, there is the military, important factions of which appear to be deepening their involvement in the drug trade. In July, the government placed the military in charge of food distribution, expanding its social role and influence, and opening up new opportunities for corruption, theft and smuggling.

The military has the potential to act as powerbrokers in the standoff between the government and the opposition, and so securing the support of the armed forces is key -- as evidenced by the opposition's call for the military to disobey government orders. The easiest way for the government to ensure continuing military support is to offer protection to high-ranking officials involved in drug trafficking or corruption schemes in return for their loyalty, cementing the power of the most corrupt and criminal figures within its ranks.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Secondly, the government has increasingly leaned on irregular armed militias as a buffer against opposition power. InSight Crime's investigations have revealed that this policy is encouraging criminality as some militias are using their position to control criminal economies, while criminal gangs are also posing as militias as a cover for their illicit activities.

As democratic solutions to Venezuela's political crisis are closed off and each side becomes more entrenched in their positions, the risk of a social conflict that could further empower and enrich corrupt and criminal elements will only deepen.

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

ARGENTINA / 3 AUG 2017

For the eighth year in a row, an annual report from the Gallup polling organization has ranked Latin America as the…

VENEZUELA / 1 OCT 2015

Authorities in Venezuela have attributed a spate of grenade attacks targeting police to a backlash against a nationwide security crackdown,…

HOMICIDES / 4 JUL 2016

New academic research questions widely-disseminated figures indicating violent deaths have risen sharply over the last three years in Venezuela, pointing…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…