Security in Venezuela: Between State Politics and Political Manipulation

We’ve seen in previous articles how political manipulation of the issue of security attempts to show an increase in murders as a specific factor of the Bolivarian revolution. However, we can see how violence has been dramatically increasing for a long time now, since the opposition of today was the government

By Jesse Chacon, Rebelion

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How do you rate the following in their response to the issue of crime and insecurity? (President Chavez, National Guard, ministry of internal affairs, the governor of your state or city mayor, mayor). (Rebelion)
How do you rate the following in their response to the issue of crime and insecurity? (President Chavez, National Guard, ministry of internal affairs, the governor of your state or city mayor, mayor). (Rebelion)

crime_opinion_state_who_should_tackle_the_issue_of_crime.png

In your opinion who would you say is principally responsible for tackling the issue of crime and insecurity? (Everyone equally, the police, the president, the mayor, the minister for internal affairs, the governor, the community, don’t know, someone else). (Rebelion)
In your opinion who would you say is principally responsible for tackling the issue of crime and insecurity? (Everyone equally, the police, the president, the mayor, the minister for internal affairs, the governor, the community, don’t know, someone else). (Rebelion)
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We’ve seen in previous articles how political manipulation of the issue of security attempts to show an increase in murders as a specific factor of the Bolivarian revolution. However, we can see how violence has been dramatically increasing for a long time now, since the opposition of today was the government.

According to statistics from the Studies for Peace Centre of the UCV [Venezuelan Central University], in the nineties the homicide rate for every 100,000 people increased by 153%, from 13 murders per 100,000 people in 1991 to 33 murders per 100,000 people in 2000.

The political game of manipulation consists of analysing the phenomenon while at the same time disconnecting it from its historical development, given that the problem of insecurity, as previous statistics indicate, is a social phenomenon that has its origin in the framework of the fourth republic [1958-1999] governments of the end of the eighties and all of the nineties. Insecurity is a result of the rupture of the basic links of socialisation that are expressed in the family: the family that is structured as a product of neoliberal policies of adjustment and the elimination of social policy, which condemns thousands of them to poverty and extreme poverty.

As a consequence of these neoliberal policies a new young protagonism in the social arena has emerged, mediated by violence and the visibility of criminal expression, which aren’t anything more than the materialisation of the loss of future and hope, especially in the D and E sectors .

Manipulation also consists of the construction of a social sensation of chaos and danger, of which the only entity responsible for its occurrence and for its being overcome is the national government. They [the opposition] portray the government as the bearer of all solutions and the only saviours. But this attempt hasn’t dominated national opinion. While Venezuelans recognise insecurity as the main problem, likewise, the institution they most value for its action towards resolving the problem of insecurity is President [Hugo] Chavez with 51%.

Popular opinion expresses a wise criterion, something the various political tendencies should understand. Insecurity can’t be a topic used like a trampoline, or as a weapon to wear down [people], as insecurity is a fire in which all of us can burn.

On the device used by various [opposition] political actors of presenting themselves as the bearers of the correct alternative to the problem of insecurity, it’s important to emphasise how they try to erase the evidence of their bad management of insecurity when they were the government, or to make everyone forget that today they are the government and responsible for insecurity in various states and municipalities.

If we look at two municipalities like Baruta and Chacao [both in Caracas] and two states like Nueva Esparta and Zulia (see the graphs below) where the opposition has been in government for almost all of the last decade, the results put into question the supposed expertise that they have to contain violence. A quick look at the statistics allows us to conclude that the homicide rate has increased between 2000 and 2008 in these regions, while, in municipalities such as Libertador [in Caracas], governed by Chavismo, the rate has decreased.

Seeking to portray themselves as the alternative, the Venezuelan opposition has presented its proposal for security called ‘All of the New Government against Criminality, Violence, and Impunity’ in which they highlight Lolita Aniyar de Castro as head of their group of consultants. She occupies a high place among world criminologists. However the proposal basically copies the premises of the CONAREPOL process and the National Police System without recognising or valuing such efforts, instead minimising them and stigmatising them as purely political.

It’s worth pointing out that during her time as governor of Zulia state (1993 to 1995) Dr Lolita Aniyar didn’t do anything to bring down the high crime rates at a national level that in 1993 were at 1276 and in 1994 at 1270, two years with the highest crime rates in Venezuela’s contemporary history. Likewise the crime rate in Zulia state for 1995 increased to 829 (the highest between 1995 and 2009).

The reflection that we have undertaken up to this point [in the article] doesn’t attempt to minimise the magnitude of insecurity today in Venezuela and the multi-factored complexity of the problem. But we are attempting to unmask the manipulations and to invite the totality of national actors to think about the problem and the alternatives for its solution.

A revolution which, in twelve years has achieved significant improvements in the quality of life of its population, especially in the least favoured sectors, has a great challenge ahead of it, to provide a structural solution to the spiral of violence inherited from the fourth republic, and for that the following is necessary:

  1. The construction of a national plan of citizen security as a national agreement where all sectors of national life participate
  2. To transform and optimise the functioning of the entire penal justice system: investigation (CICPC), prosecution (Fiscalia – the public prosecutor’s office) and trial (TSJ- the Supreme Court). It’s essential that the feeling of impunity that is present today in Venezuelan society is ended.
  3. The sincere adaptation of all regional and municipal police that were created in an anarchistic fashion during the fourth republic to the standards of the new Venezuelan police system.
  4. The creation of a policy aimed at the eradication of the cycles of territorial violence that exist today in vast sectors of Venezuelan society, looking to favour the youth of those sectors in order to advance in substituting their symbols of violence and consumerism of today with new symbols based on hope, self respect, and solidarity.

The task is everyone’s and even more so when insecurity and violence is a problem that arose in Latin America at the end of the eighties as a consequence of the adjustment measures that destroyed the fragile social contract in place at the time. It goes beyond national borders and is a problem of the societies and processes of urbanisation of the third world and the new typologies of global organised crime.

Comparison of homicide rates by municipality

2000

2001ª

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Chacao

15

16

36

32

22

14

28

21

24

Baruta

5

13

20

22

16

18

17

21

24

Libertador

83

68

91

97

55

56

57

76

73

Source:PROVEA

Comparison of homicide rates by state

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Nueva Esparta

21

20

19

17

23

17

27

38

53

Zulia

23

27

30

36

29

31

38

38

40

Source: PROVEA

Translated by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com

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