Caracas, September 2nd 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Thursday the Venezuelan government destroyed over 50,000 confiscated guns, doubling the total amount of arms seized and destroyed so far this year. The melting down of these weapons is expected to produce some 60 tons of iron which will be used in numerous public housing projects currently being built nationwide.
Speaking in front of the iron smelting facilities at the publicly-owned Siderurgica del Turbio (SIDETUR) in Barquisimeto, state of Lara, Venezuelan Minister of Justice and the Interior Tareck El Aissami explained that recent efforts to capture and melt down weapons placed Venezuela “number one in all of Latin America when it comes to these special measures aimed at the destruction of guns.”
“These policies are geared towards the generating and deepening of consciousness so as to consolidate the peace in Venezuela,” affirmed El Aissami.
According to official statistics, 94% of homicides in Venezuela last year were caused by gun violence, the result of which El Aissami said were many decades in which guns and other harmful weapons “were thought of as commodities, to be bought and sold openly on the market.”
Just last month, the Venezuelan people began the first of numerous public debates on the proposed Law of Firearms Control and Disarmament drafted by the country’s National Assembly, a legal tool designed to help bring gun violence under control.
Included in the 51,765 weapons destroyed on Thursday were several dozen automatic weapons confiscated from prisoners earlier this year after the deadly prison siege of El Rodeo I and II was brought to an end.
In total, 117,545 weapons have been seized and destroyed by the Venezuelan government this year. According to the country’s Department of Arms and Explosives (DAEX), some 251,607 arms have been destroyed since the year 2003.
Representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations (UN), and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) attended Thursday’s event.
Alfredo Roberto Miser, Coordinator of the United Nations offices in Venezuela, told reporters that, “the massive destruction of weapons in Venezuela demonstrates a concrete willingness to bring an end to the violence that affects the country.”
“It’s an effective way to demonstrate that something is being done” with respect to gun violence, said Miser.
In addition, he affirmed, “what’s beautiful is not only the destruction of weapons, but the fact that the resulting materials become the iron needed to produce rebar, metal construction materials and other goods to improve quality of life” in Venezuela.
The 60 tons of iron expected from the melting down of these confiscated weapons is to be directed to the national government’s efforts to build some 150,000 homes by the end of the year.