Venezuelan troops patrol a supermarket

President Nicolas Maduro has ordered Venezuela's security forces to maintain order in supermarkets and food distribution sites, highlighting how the country has prioritized political-driven security issues over efforts to lower one of the world's highest homicide rates.

On January 8, President Maduro announced soldiers and police officers would begin to guard the country's supermarkets, which have seen extremely long lines due to food shortages, reported AFP. Venezuela has experienced a scarcity in numerous basic products over the past year, including milk, flour, and toilet paper. 

Meanwhile, the arrest of 12 students by police during a protest in the western border city of San Cristobal on January 7 was another example of the employment of security forces. The government remains intolerant of social unrest and the activities of the opposition. Venezuela has previously drawn international criticism for their heavy-handed response to anti-government marches in early 2014.

InSight Crime Analysis

The deployment of Venezuelan security forces to supermarkets and the crackdown on social protests suggest Maduro is more interested in keeping a lid on unrest rather than implementing meaningful security reform and tackling rampant crime. The questionable use of security forces has dogged this administration, and the misguided allocation of state resources to combat crime is likely a contributing factor to Venezuela's status as one of the most violent nations in Latin America.

Despite Venezuela's critical security situation, the government continues to focus on manipulating or hiding politically damaging crime statistics rather confronting the issues, forcing citizens to take security into their own hands. The recent killing of 7 people by alleged gang members at a funeral in the northern state of Aragua indicates gang violence has spread beyond the capital city of Caracas, forecasting an even bleaker security outlook for Venezuela this year.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

On the other hand, the use of soldiers and police to guard Venezuelan supermarkets could be a tacit admission by the Maduro administration that the economy is crumbling due to falling oil prices, so that even the most basic goods can be worth fighting over. Venezuela's dire economic straits are a key reason the country is considered by InSight Crime to be highly susceptible to organized crime's influence and facing a deteriorating security situation in 2015.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...