Mérida, 27th January 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – In a speech on security yesterday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro outlined his opinion on the causes of violent crime in the South American country.
The comments were made during a government-convoked Day for Peace and Life, which encouraged citizens and community activists to help construct a new “culture of peace” in Venezuela.
The murder of actress Monica Spears earlier this month has renewed national attention on violent crime. According to UN statistics Venezuela has the third-highest homicide rate in the Americas, although government figures suggest this has reduced since 2010.
Yesterday President Maduro argued that violent crime is due to the “anti-values” of individualism, consumerism, and a quest for easy wealth, which were “planted by capitalism” in Venezuela. Mixed with drug trafficking and a “cult” of guns and violence, the president suggested that these are the “profound” causes of criminal violence.
Reiterating advances in poverty and inequality reduction under the Bolivarian government since 1998, Maduro concluded that a transformation in values is also required to reduce violent crime.
“If we don’t transform the cultural model of anti-values; of intrigue, lies, greed, individualism, [and] drug addiction, we’re not going to change society,” the head of state declared.
On 8 February the government will present its National Pacification Plan, which is being hailed as a comprehensive plan to protect citizen security and reduce violent crime. According to Maduro, over 150,000 proposals have so far been submitted by citizens for possible incorporation into the plan.
The Venezuelan president also underlined the need for more effective law enforcement and greater respect for the law. “Let there be no doubt that our security forces and bodies of authority have to act with the greatest capacity and speed to protect the Venezuela people,” he said.
The government is looking at how to improve vigilance of public spaces, highways, and even hospitals. Part of this plan includes installing a “comprehensive monitoring system” with 30,000 security cameras across eight of the country’s cities.
During his speech Maduro criticised the country’s tabloid press for making a “spectacle” out of violent crime in Venezuela, and suggested that people pay less attention to the statistics they use. The Justice and Interior Affairs Ministry and the Venezuelan Violence Observatory NGO dispute the country’s current homicide rate.
Commune activists continue to denounce murders
Also on the weekend, commune activists from the mountains of Lara state (western Venezuela) met to denounce the situation of growing insecurity in their communities.
According to Gustavo Jimenez, a spokesperson for the Adrian Moncada commune, around 100 commune activists and community members have been killed by criminal gangs in the region in the last two years.
Jimenez told local community media that the murders may even have a political motive, “because we are a revolutionary area and they [criminal gangs] don’t want us to continue growing”.
The activists called on local authorities to act and combat the problem, and requested that President Maduro activate a security plan in the region in collaboration with local communes.