Neutralizing Criminal Groups Key in Guaidó Security Plan for Venezuela

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The opposition leader and president of Venezuela’s National Assembly has launched his new security plan for a potential transition government, announcing a series of proposals to restore citizen security and neutralize the armed groups that have a hold on the country.

The security plan forms part of “Plan País” (Plan for the Country), the national reconstruction strategy promoted by Juan Guaidó since he was declared interim president in January. Developed over a year of meetings with experts and civil society representatives, the plan details the economic and social reforms that provide the backbone of Guaidó’s alternative vision for Venezuela.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela: A Mafia State?

Presented April 11 in the capital Caracas, the security component contains a series of short-, medium- and long-term measures with the stated objective of “completely changing the relationship between citizens and security institutions to create an alliance that guarantees life and the respect of Venezuelans’ human rights.”

The plan prioritizes four areas of intervention to restore national stability: police and social measures for violence reduction, as well as reforms to the criminal justice and prison systems. It also contains proposals for arms control, which is vital to combating criminality in the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

The priorities outlined in Guaidó’s security plan show his awareness that the success of any transitional government in Venezuela will require neutralizing the armed, and increasingly criminal, elements on which Nicolás Maduro’s regime depends.

A key focus is the professionalization of the police force through improved training, working conditions and promotion procedures. Transferring security functions to an accountable police force is key to reducing homicides and crimes.

Attention is also given to the need for tighter restrictions within the prison system, with the goal of weakening the power of prison bosses known as “pranes.” These prison gangs currently dominate Venezuela’s prison system and control powerful criminal networks from behind bars.

SEE ALSO: The Armed Groups Propping Up Venezuela’s Government

Crucial for the plan’s success is the arms registration and decommissioning program. It seeks to reduce the vast number of weapons in civilian hands throughout the country. This, in particular, will be an uphill struggle. Maduro is actively working to safeguard his regime through the arming of paramilitary forces known as “colectivos,” and high-caliber weaponry abounds among the “mega-gangs” that control Venezuela’s marginal districts.

Complicating the situation further is the presence of Colombian armed groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN).

Both groups rely on the complicity of Maduro’s administration for protection and access to lucrative criminal economies, such as the Caribbean cocaine corridor and illegal mining operations. These groups have expressed their willingness to militarily defend the regime that provides them with such benefits, and have been found to be working with colectivos to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid into Venezuela.

Guaidó’s plan is undoubtedly ambitious and well thought. However, with such a plethora of armed actors aligned with Maduro, Guaidó’s ability to implement his strategy will depend heavily on the faltering loyalties of the very groups he aims to neutralize.

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