Venezuela: Former Vice President Calls for Investigation into Police Conduct

The respected Chavista journalist Jose Vicente Rangel expressed concern about excessive use of force by police special operations corps.

By Cira Pascual Marquina
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FAES

FAES
Special operations unit in action. (Archive)

Caracas, April 5, 2018 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – In his Sunday television program, journalist and human rights advocate Jose Vicente Rangel called for investigations into the recent conduct of Venezuela’s special police forces.

“Once more I am warning about operations that police groups are carrying out, operations that involve outrages against citizens and numerous cases of murder in the barrios,” said Rangel, who was formerly served as vice president to Hugo Chavez from 2002 to 2007.

“It is a use of violence that has no justification whatsoever,” he added.

Rangel gave as an example how “eight people had been murdered between March 12 and 18, among them an evangelical minister.” He said that those alleged to be involved are the CICPC and FAES, which are the investigative police force and the special operations unit of the Bolivarian National Police, respectively.

Jose Vicente Rangel

Jose Vicente Rangel
Renowned journalist and human rights advocate Jose Vicente Rangel in his Sunday television program. (Televen / Jose Vicente Hoy)

This is not the first time that Rangel has denounced police abuses. In February of this year, he decried how special forces groups were “operating in the barrios with agents wearing black uniforms and equipped with sophisticated combat equipment… carrying out actions that produce adverse effects in the people.”

Previously, Rangel penned an editorial condemning the 2014 CICPC action infamously known as the “Quinta Crespo Massacre,” which is generally believed to have brought about the dismissal of Miguel Rodriguez Torres’ tenure as interior minister.

Founded in 2016, the FAES is tasked with fighting crime and “terrorist bands supported by the right,” according to statements made by President Nicolas Maduro. The once active Operation for the Liberation of the People (OLP), begun one year earlier, had a similar mission but was largely phased out following criticism over alleged human rights abuses.

Now the new FAES units are playing a key role in addressing Venezuela’s high levels of violent crime. Over the years, the government's response to chronic insecurity has varied between attempts at police reform, including a notable effort under Chavez’s presidency to create a more human-rights-conscious police force, and the more heavy-handed approaches exemplified in the OLP and most recently the FAES units.

In declarations made to Venezuelanalysis, Communist Party spokesperson Pedro Eusse confirmed that police and state security forces are now being used with greater frequency against union leaders and peasant homesteaders, raising concern that heavy-handed repression may be on the rise. A recent example involves the detention of ten campesino squatters in Portuguesa State, who claim to have been framed by the police with planted firearms and uniforms.

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