Housing Movement Condemns Police Corruption within Venezuela’s Barrios

Representatives of the Housing Movement, communal councils, and various social movements gathered in downtown Caracas on Sunday to denounce police corruption and abuse within the city’s barrios.

By Sascha Bercovitch
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“We firmly support the efforts of the revolutionary government to ensure peace and coexistence, but we believe that the actions of some members of the police force do not contribute to this end, instead deepening the violence and unrest in our popular sectors,” read the statement issued by various representatives (Captura)
“We firmly support the efforts of the revolutionary government to ensure peace and coexistence, but we believe that the actions of some members of the police force do not contribute to this end, instead deepening the violence and unrest in our popular sectors,” read the statement issued by various representatives (Captura)

Caracas, August 5th, 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Representatives of the Housing Movement, communal councils, and various social movements gathered in downtown Caracas on Sunday to denounce police corruption and abuse within the city’s barrios.

“We want to express our concern and condemnation of the escalation in violent acts which has recently affected the areas in which we live, taking the lives of our children and neighbors at the hands of corrupt and unscrupulous law enforcement officials,” read a statement issued during the press conference.

“We firmly support the efforts of the revolutionary government to ensure peace and coexistence, but we believe that the actions of some members of the police force do not contribute to this end, instead deepening the violence and unrest in our popular sectors,” it added.

The statement cited several incidents it alleged exemplified police officers acting “without regard for judicial order or due process, and without respecting the right to life”.

“When the community tries to intervene to stop the abuse, they lash out ruthlessly against children …and other neighbors, as a means of retaliation and intimidation,” the statement added.

The first incident occurred last month when officials from the government’s Scientific, Penal, and Criminal Investigation Body (CICPC) killed Jhonny Tovar, a 28-year-old informal worker previously accused of drug trafficking, in barrio 19 de Abril in El Valle. According to the statement, officials detained Tovar in his home before shooting him in the street, in front of his neighbors, later arresting various residents and intimidating others when they complained about the procedure.

In another incident that same week, CICPC officials shot and killed 30-year-old Manuel Mosquera in Petare. Several months earlier, Mosquera, wanted for crimes of theft and extortion, had met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who had praised Mosquera’s example as an individual who had left his criminal days behind him to help at-risk youth.

In the final incident cited in the statement, three armed men entered the Clinical Hospital at Caracas’ Central University and killed 27 year old Edison Balza, along with his brother, Said. Edison Balza had been shot earlier in the night, and was awaiting an emergency operation.

Though some accounts of the incident claim that the perpetrators came from a collective in the Los Sin Techos barrio of El Cementerio, the statement alleged that paramilitary groups within the police were responsible.

“You can't call for peace, disarmament, and an end to crime and violence on one hand, and to kill those same people who abide by that call on the other,” the statement read.

The representatives assembled called for dialogue between the government, the city’s grassroots sectors, and the at-risk youth within those sectors to discuss proposals to amend the situation.

“The so-called human rights NGOs [which frequently offer reports on the violence within Caracas' barrios] only defend the interests of the middle-class or the [political] opposition, but no one defends the poor from abuses by the police,” the statement read.

For this reason, "We call upon all our communities and on the government to denounce, organize, and combat these criminal practices. Only the organization and struggle of the [poor and working class] people will stop these abuses. There can be no socialism with repression of the people.”