Venezuela Launches New Public Security Plan to Reduce Violent Crime

 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro unveiled a new anti-crime strategy aimed at “combatting insecurity” this week.  

By Lucas Koerner
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President Maduro unveils his new security initiative on national television. (Twitter/Despacho presidencia)
President Maduro unveils his new security initiative on national television. (Twitter/Despacho presidencia)

Caracas, January 18, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro unveiled a new anti-crime strategy aimed at “combatting insecurity” during a nationally televised address on Tuesday night.

Known as the Carabobo 2021 Plan, the initiative consists of six lines of action intended to reduce national crime rates, ranging from new community justice bodies to increased police presence.

As the first line of action, the executive announced the expansion of community sports and cultural workshops organized by the Movement for Peace and Life, a government program founded in collaboration with youth groups to provide alternatives to crime.

Secondly, Maduro stated that he would be relaunching the Safe Homeland Plan, which reinforces local police patrols with National Guard personnel in order to strengthen security in highly trafficked public spaces such as parks, avenues, and plazas.

The head of state also revealed the new Peace Quadrants initiative, which will oversee public security efforts within local communities by promoting coordination between police and National Guard personnel, the National Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), the Francisco Miranda Front, the United Venezuelan Socialist Party’s Bolivar-Chávez Battle Units (UBCh), and community leaders.

According to the plan, each quadrant will have its own emergency phone line, enabling local residents to communicate directly with the public security functionaries serving in their neighborhood. A new smartphone application will also be available in March in order to facilitate better access to the program.  

Maduro indicated that the government will open new training courses for the Bolivarian National Police and the National Guard in February with the hope that 20,000 youth will sign up as part of the Peace Quadrants. 

“By June 15, I want 20,000 new functionaries out on the streets as part of their practical preparation, with a popular communitarian vision of protecting the people, so that citizens feel confident about walking down the street and visiting their family,” he declared.

Fourth, the government unveiled the creation of the Popular Intelligence System, which according to SEBIN Director Gustavo Gonzalo Lopez will serve to “alert about threats in the political, economic, social, and cultural areas,” though no further details were disclosed.

Maduro additionally announced the revamping of his administration’s controversial anti-crime operation, known as Operation Liberation of the People (OLP), which will now be renamed Operation Humanistic Liberation of the People (OLHP).

Citing “abuses and failures” in recent months, he pledged that the OLHP will operate with “stricter methods of intelligence, compliance with the law, and deep participation of the people.”

The OLP has come under scrutiny from Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz who reported over the summer a “high incidence” of state security personnel facing criminal prosecution over alleged human rights violations committed in the course of the operation.

Finally, the president outlined the establishment of new community institutions, known as “houses of justice”, which are intended to serve as an alternative to the penal system in cases of lower level crimes.

“The houses of justice are houses for conflict resolution, for early justice in order to combat impunity and uphold law and order within communities,” explained Maduro.

The new bodies will reportedly house those sentenced to eight years or less for offenses such as robberies, assault, theft, among others.

The houses will be staffed by representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, Justice, and Peace, the UBCh, the National Bolivarian Militia, the People’s Guards, among others.

The new public security initiative will be headed by Vice-President Tareck El Aissami, who was recently appointed to the number two post at the start of the year.