NGO Warns of ‘Social Explosion’ After Venezuela Elections

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Non-profit organization International Crisis Group predicts a surge of violence after Venezuela’s 2012 presidential elections, whether or not President Hugo Chavez remains in power.

After almost 12 years of Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution,” crime and violence, partially inherited by this administration, have dramatically worsened. This is illustrated by the increasing presence of international drug trafficking groups and soaring murder and kidnapping rates.

In a report release Wednesday, Crisis Group said that tensions have built to the point where it would be difficult for a peaceful change of power to take place after the upcoming elections, or for the current regime to remain in power without violence.

The group says that Chavez’s illness has made the situation more uncertain.

Crisis Group puts a share of the blame on the current government, questioning its will to root out corruption in the military and law enforcement. Venezuela has become a major drug trafficking corridor, as the report points out, and its armed forces are developing a serious level of “corruption and complicity” with organized crime.

The report notes the government’s “ambiguous” attitude towards armed groups, such as the Bolivarian Liberation Forces and urban “colectivos,” which are in favor of the regime.

To avoid a serious outbreak of political violence, Crisis Group calls for a commitment by all sides to peaceful constitutional means of conflict resolution, and government measures to restore the rule of law.

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