Nicolas Maduro’s regime concluded 2019 with more than 5,000 people killed by Chavista military forces, while the South American country remains one of the most violent nations in the world.
An investigation by the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV) revealed that at least 16,506 violent deaths were recorded in 2019 with a homicide rate of 60.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. Violence in Venezuela is twice as high as in countries like Colombia or Mexico, which have a homicide rate of 25 and 29, respectively.
An epidemic of police violence
During the presentation of the annual report, Carlos Melendez, one of the directors of the NGO, pointed out that there is an “epidemic of police violence” in Venezuela where officials of the regime take advantage of their “power” to carry out extrajudicial executions under the pretense of “resistance to authority.
The report states that 5,286 deaths were carried out by police officers through the use of excessive force. In fact, after Michelle Bachelet presented her first report on the situation in Venezuela in July denouncing extrajudicial executions, 2,698 were killed by lethal police action in the country.
According to the OVV, most of these murders were committed by the state security forces, including the Special Action Forces (FAES), a special command of the Chavista Bolivarian National Police. The OVV report is based on records obtained by a press observatory, sample surveys, and “unofficial aggregate figures,” which, they say, have been “compiled by the Ministry of the Interior.”
Rite of passage
The FAES, better known as Maduro’s political police, is reportedly implementing a kind of “rite of passage ” for their new members. They claim that those who become FAES officers “must locate a victim and kill him or her” to begin their careers. This is one of the state security bodies denounced for its alleged link to selective killings, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and forced disappearances.
Roberto Briceño-León, director of the OVV, told BBC Mundo that “the procedure is usually the same. They arrive hooded and without identification, which violates all Venezuelan laws. While some block the street and drive away from the family members, others kill the target, almost always inside their home.”
Additionally, he has reported that “there are few cases of police officers being convicted in Venezuela, but the FAES has complete impunity.” He denounced that officials of the Public Ministry admit privately that investigations concerning the controversial police force are systematically blocked.
Despite national and international accusations, on December 20, Maduro himself called for “expanding the FAES” to work hand in hand with the communal councils and the communes, organizations of Cuban origin promoted by Chavismo.