HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Security Forces Were Killed in Record Numbers in 2016
BRIEF

Venezuela Security Forces Were Killed in Record Numbers in 2016

COLECTIVOS / 25 JAN 2017 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

More than one police officer or military soldier was killed per day in Venezuela in 2016, a figure that highlights the steadily degrading security situation for which recent government policies may be largely to blame.

The year 2016 witnessed the highest number of murdered security forces in the past five years with 414 cases, according to a report by the human rights group Foundation for Due Process (Fundación para el Debido Proceso – FUNDEPRO).

The study was published in January 2017, and it compiled data from news coverage and interviews with security forces.

Out of the 414 homicides, 291 were police, 93 were military, and the remaining 30 were bodyguards. The total figure includes the deaths on duty and off but not the incidents of officers that died while allegedly committing criminal acts.

The report notes that the main motive behind the killings was the theft of service weapons or vehicles, and that the state with the highest number of recorded incidents was Miranda along the northern coastline, with 83 killed.

The report argues that combined with the additional 26 attacks against police and military stations, the killings indicate “a contempt and lack of respect towards figures of authority.”

InSight Crime Analysis

The data concerning the murders of security forces is the latest example of how failed government security policies are fueling Venezuela’s downward spiral of violence.

Based on 2016 statistics, the country was one of the most violent in the world, with estimates reaching nearly 30,000 homicides. Security forces and the judiciary are so overwhelmed that lynchings increased by 650 percent last year, and the impunity rate for homicides hovers at 92 percent, according to data from the Attorney General’s Office. The general security situation certainly does not provide a safe working environment for police and military patrolling the streets.

But killings of security elements may have been exacerbated by government measures that have degraded the public’s perception of security forces. Venezuela, for example, is seeing growing outrage against the infamous Operation Liberation and Protection of the People (Operación de Liberación y Protección del Pueblo – OLP). The security strategy has led to a spate of accusations of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses by law enforcement and death squads working hand in hand, fueling public resentment toward security forces.

Meanwhile, President Nicolás Maduro’s administration has increasingly armed civilian groups as part of its security strategy. By doing so, the government is effectively undermining the monopoly of security forces on violence.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Moreover, some civilian armed groups designed to protect people from crime, such as the so-called “colectivos,” have become increasingly involved in criminal activities themselves. 

A similar policy has led to the creation of the “peace zones” where the government allowed for security forces to be replaced by vigilantes. In reality, these areas have become safe havens for organized crime and no-go zones for security elements. Incidentally, Miranda, the state with the highest number of killed security elements in 2016, is also an area with a high concentration of peace zones.

Early January 2017, Maduro announced that the government would supply more weapons to civilians as part of a new security strategy, an indication that the administration has no intention to alter its course of action.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

FARC / 9 JAN 2012

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has appointed General Henry Rangel Silva, a man accused by the US of having ties to…

AYOTZINAPA / 19 JUL 2017

Recent revelations about the government of Mexico's widespread use of spyware to monitor adversaries in the press and the human…

CHILE / 7 AUG 2020

According to a recent assessment, drug trafficking in Chile has become increasingly prominent, diversified, and violent over the past year…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…