Political Upheaval Distracts From Unabated Violence in Venezuela

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Sky high violence and clashes between criminals and security forces show the scale of the security crisis facing Venezuela, a crisis that looks set to deepen as President Nicolas Maduro focuses on quelling political dissent at the expense of combating crime. 

Seventy cadavers were brought to the Bello Monte morgue in Caracas during the first seven days of June, reported El Nacional. The weekend of June 5-7 was particularly deadly, when 27 bodies were brought to the morgue, according to El Nacional. 

The violence has affected some of the most vulnerable sectors of the Venezuelan population. No less than 70 women and 115 minors have reportedly been killed so far this year in the Caracas metropolitan area.

Police have also come under heavy fire; 59 officers in Caracas have been assassinated thus far in 2015, reported El Nacional. On June 6, four individuals were reportedly injured after a grenade exploded just meters from a police station in the western state of Tachira. For the second time in as many months, officials from various police units called on the government to provide greater protection against police attacks during a protest this weekend. 

InSight Crime Analysis

As violence and crime continue to ravage Venezuela, it appears President Maduro is more concentrated on the political turmoil swirling around the country than its precarious security situation. Maduro has already demonstrated a willingness to prioritize politically driven security policies over attempts to lower homicides in Venezuela, already considered one of Latin America’s most dangerous nations. 

Maduro has been fighting several political fires in recent months. In May, the Wall Street Journal reported US prosecutors are investigating several high-level Venezuelan officials — including one of the country’s most-powerful political leaders, Diosdado Cabello — for their suspected involvement drug trafficking. Maduro also recently cancelled a trip to the Vatican to visit Pope Francis after the Catholic Church and rights groups reportedly pushed for the Pope to address human rights abuses in Venezuela. The government also denied requests from former presidents Andres Pastrana of Colombia and Sebastian Pinera of Chile for an audience with jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Organized crime has already proven adept at using political and economic turmoil and corruption in Venezuela to its advantage through everything from exploiting economic policies by contraband smuggling to taking advantage of institutional weaknesses to turn the country into a drug transit hub. It is likely such forces will again be seeking to take advantage of Maduro’s preoccupation with his political position. 

Meanwhile, the recent police protests over the high number of officer deaths are indication of the inadequate state resources the Maduro administration is devoting to improving citizen security. The combination of high risk and low pay has led to the resignation of 30 percent of the police force in Sucre, a municipality in the Caracas metropolitan area, since 2012. 

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