Venezuelan Government Launches “Movement for Peace”

Venezuelan Acting President Nicolas Maduro launched a new government initiative this week to work with communities and lower the country’s violent crime rate.


Under the initiative, known as the Movement for Peace and Life, state bodies involved in the fight against crime will work with youth and community groups to promote alternatives to criminal and violent lifestyles.

The Movement for Peace will be coordinated by an Executive Secretariat, which was activated by Maduro on Monday.

The Secretariat includes government figures such as the minister of communes and social protection, Isis Ochoa, and the rector of the National Experimental University of Security (UNES), Soraya El Achkar. A representative of the youth group Otro Beta, Gabriel Pacheco, and a Jesuit priest, Numa Molina, are also members.

Maduro informed the public that the Secretariat will form 19 work teams throughout the country, especially in urban areas where insecurity is considered to be a greater problem. These work groups will form local Movements for Peace and work with more vulnerable groups such as youth in order to lower levels of violent crime in the community.

“When the movements [of peace] are established all over, a wave of desire for life will come,” augured Maduro, who announced the measures while on a televised visit to UNES facilities. “We’ll go into a process of progressive pacification. The only true peace is that based on equality and justice,” he continued.

To this end, the Acting President also approved 91 million bolivars (US $14.5 million) for the construction of five “Sports Courts for Peace”, spaces for the promotion of “healthy” recreation, sport and culture.

These will be built in urban areas where insecurity is perceived as a problem, such as Maracaibo in Zulia state, Petare in Miranda state, and El Valle in Caracas.

Maduro highlighted his government’s commitment to tackling insecurity, and suggested the conservative opposition would be incapable of doing so. “Either we solve this problem, or no one will. Be aware of that…we don’t have an alternative. And you can be sure that we are going to resolve it,” he said.

Insecurity has emerged as a top concern for Venezuelans, with government statistics suggesting that Venezuela has the 4th highest homicide rate in the Americas.

Maduro, who is the government’s candidate in the up-coming presidential election on 14 April, has put the issue at the heart of his campaign, showing what he will do to tackle the problem in the coming constitutional period.

Polls suggest Maduro will comfortably beat his right-wing rival, Henrique Capriles, in an election called following the death of late President Hugo Chavez on 5 March.

Maduro, who is Chavez’s chosen political successor, called for the ceasing of violent crime in Venezuela, and urged citizens to follow Hugo Chavez’s example. “Let’s build a community, a commune, a barrio, a residency of peace, respect, [and] brotherhood,” he said.

Maduro has indicated he will build upon the security policies designed in the latter years of the Chavez presidency, such as the National Bolivarian Police Force, civilian disarmament strategies, and the Mission Full Life Venezuela crime-fighting program.

The UNES, where the Bolivarian Police are trained in human rights and community liaison, is undergoing an enlargement process. Maduro reminded cadets that they are expected to be “the best police, humanely, professionally, scientifically, and morally, in the history of the nation”.

Finally, the Acting President confirmed that the proposed Disarmament Law is expected to be passed by Venezuela’s National Assembly soon.

The legislation, which was designed by the Presidential Disarmament Commission with citizen participation, aims to regulate the use of firearms in Venezuela, whose commercial sale has been banned since last year.

“The main disarmament we need to do is the disarmament of the anti-values of violence and the criminality of capitalism,” Maduro argued.