Mérida, August 6th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — Venezuela
will send 1,700 National Guard troops to assist in crime prevention and crime fighting
in twenty-eight neighborhoods in the capital city of Caracas, President Hugo
Chávez announced on Tuesday.
The plan, called "The People's Guard," has already been tested with
success in four Caracas communities, and focuses primarily on crime prevention,
Chavez said during a ceremony to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of
the creation of the National Guard.
"The People's Guard should be like a doctor in [the public health care
program] Barrio Adentro; more than crime fighters, you should be deployed in
the community and prevent crime," said the president. The Barrio Adentro program
has made free primary and preventative health care available to nearly every
The People's Guard brigades wear a different uniform than standard
National Guard troops, and are meant to work with the local government,
community councils, and social programs to contribute to national development
as well as citizen security and national defense.
Chavez instructed the troops to bring "security based on the respect
for life," and leave behind the "repressive security" that has characterized
Venezuela's security forces.
According to the head of the National Guard, General Freddy Carrión,
the People's Guard grew out of previous plans in which the National Guard was
deployed to secure Caracas's public buses and other key public spaces.
The plan is now in its second phase, during which it will strive to
significantly lower the city's crime rates. If the model is successful, 2,000
more troops will be deployed next year, and the model will gradually be
extended throughout the nation, according to Carrión.
Crime rates, including homicides, have increased significantly in
recent years, and in several polls more than 75% of Venezuelans ranked
insecurity as the top issue affecting the country.