Merida, 27th November 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – 30,000 security cameras will be installed across Venezuela under a scheme inaugurated by President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday, amid ongoing efforts to tackle street crime.
“We’re establishing a support system at the highest technological level,” Maduro stated during the inauguration of the Integrated Monitoring and Assistance System (SIMA).
Aimed at reducing crime though the installation of security cameras in public places, SIMA will be rolled out nationwide, “town by town” according to Maduro. For now, however, the system has only been implemented in Miranda state, where it’s currently headquartered. Within two years the system will be functioning in 16 Venezuelan cities, interior and justice minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said during the opening of the Miranda facility on Tuesday. The minister stated that each city would have a SIMA operational hub, linked to a “situation room” in Caracas.
SIMA has a price tag of over US$1.2 billion, and the technology behind the project has been provided by the China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC) under a deal with the interior ministry. Maduro said his government also intends to incorporate unmanned surveillance drones into the system.
“We must serve not only for safety but also for the general assistance of the community,” Maduro said. According to the president, the system will not only be used to prevent crime, but also assist in national emergencies including natural disasters.
SIMA is also part of the Safe Homeland plan, and has been hailed by the government as part of a shift towards preventive policing – a model of law enforcement advocated by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
During the inauguration, Maduro also stated that his government should “work with both hands” to tackle street crime by focusing on rehabilitation and crime prevention, rather than punishment. He cited the government’s recent sponsorship of a group of 30 Venezuelan youth who are now studying sports education in Cuba as an example of his commitment to addressing crime through the new model.
The 30 young Venezuelans all voluntarily surrendered firearms to the national government, according to the president. Venezuela has one of the world’s highest homicide rates and most murders are gun related. In 2011, 94% of homicides involved firearms, according to figures from the national government. The commercial sale of firearms to the general public is illegal in Venezuela, and authorities have publicly called for Venezuelans to voluntarily hand over guns for destruction.
Since 2003, over 355,000 guns have been obtained and destroyed by authorities, Deputy Minister of Criminal Investigation, Maria Martinez told state news agency AVN on Tuesday. Over 17,000 more weapons were added to that figure on Tuesday during an event broadcast by state media from the National Iron and Steel Complex in Barquisimeto, Lara state.
It’s a very important number of weapons to be destroyed this day, part of the whole process that has been taking place in the country,” Martinez told VTV.
The arms ranging from hunting rifles to handguns would be smelted, and the metal used as construction material for Mision Vivienda according to the minister. The mission provides free housing to Venezuelans.
More Police Graduate from UNES
On the same day in Caracas, 5,660 new police officers graduated from the National Experimental University of Security (UNES). The UNES was established following the recommendation of the 2006 National Commission for Police Reform, which called for police training to be taken out of the hands of the military. The university is staffed by a number of human rights advocates, and according to supporters its curriculum has a strong focus on human rights education.
Maduro announced that he would mark the graduation by approving a pay rise for around 6,600 municipal and state police officers. According to the president, the salary adjustments will bring these officers in line with national standards. Last month, Maduro stated he planned on further standardising Venezuela’s various regional police forces.
The new pay adjustments will come into effect on 1 January, 2014.