HomeNewsBriefAmid Crisis, Venezuela Citizens Take Security Into Own Hands
BRIEF

Amid Crisis, Venezuela Citizens Take Security Into Own Hands

VENEZUELA / 16 NOV 2015 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Communities in Caracas are turning to private security and vigilante groups in response to the state failures behind Venezuela's security crisis, but examples from around the region show this can be a dangerous path to take.

Several crime-plagued municipalities in the Caracas metropolitan area have taken to organizing security patrols mostly carried out by off duty or former members of the security forces, according to a report by El Nacional.

In some cases, local businesses, institutions and residents have combined to pay for private security services, while in others the communities themselves have formed security groups that work in conjunction with the police.

Residents say the patrols have reduced street crime, although some have opposed measures implemented by the groups, such as road closures and checkpoints, according to El Nacional. In addition, the groups operate in a legal grey area, especially with regards to the use of firearms and detaining suspects.

InSight Crime Analysis

Communities resorting to taking citizen security into their own hands is an understandable and perhaps inevitable consequence of the Venezuelan state's failures to control the country's security crisis. Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in the world, and crimes that affect the general population such as robberies, kidnappings and extortion have reached epidemic proportions.

The police have consistently proven to be incapable of meeting the challenges of these security problems. The force is seen as weak, ineffective and corrupt, and even when it has tried to lead an assault on criminal networks, those networks have shown themselves more than willing to fight back.

However, as numerous examples from around the region show, it can be hugely problematic when citizens start taking security into their own hands, as a lack of accountability and the temptations of corruption can often lead to abuses.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Vigilantes

In Brazil, vigilante security groups that, as in Venezuela, are composed of former or active security forces have evolved into criminal militias involved in everything from extortion to drug trafficking. In El Salvador, groups of off-duty security forces are believed to have formed anti-gang death squads. In even more extreme examples, vigilante groups in Mexico and Colombia have become powerful criminal organizations in their own right.

Despite these warning signs, the Caracas communities are far from alone in believing citizens should fill the gap left by state failures, and vigilante justice is proving popular in countries around the region that are plagued by insecurity and have weak and ineffective state institutions.

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

GAMECHANGERS / 12 JAN 2018

Venezuela's role as a hotbed for organized crime in the Americas has deepened this year. The country’s political, economic and…

ARGENTINA / 15 JAN 2020

Welcome to InSight Crime's Criminal GameChangers 2019, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas…

COLOMBIA / 17 MAY 2019

Juan Guaidó tried to bluff Nicólas Maduro at the Venezuelan political poker table, pretending he had the enough of the…

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.