Venezuela will deploy the military to fight crime, a move that will likely increase concerns over the depth of corruption in the armed forces and the possibility that human rights could be compromised in the name of citizen security.
Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez announced that the army, navy, and air force would join National Guard troops in a new security initiative, reported The Associated Press. Rodriguez described the military as an “important tool that will bring peace to citizens” and would allow the public to “feel safe in the streets,” although he did not provide further details on how, exactly, the armed forces would be deployed.
Activist Rafael Uzcategui, a representative from human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) PROVEA, was critical of the announcement, stating that the military is not trained in fighting crime.
InSight Crime Analysis
In late April, Minister Rodriguez said that he would soon announce a series of new measures meant to tackle insecurity in Venezuela, now one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with murders in the first four months of the year reaching an average of 58 per day.
Turning to the military to help fight crime is a common phenomenon in Latin America. Under former President Felipe Calderon, Mexico made great use of its armed forces in taking down high-value criminal targets. Other countries have turned to the military in order to make up for a corrupt and under-trained police force. However, there are valid concerns that the armed forces are more inclined to use heavy-handed tactics at the expense of human rights, something clearly seen in Mexico, where the armed forces have been documented engaging in a wide range of abuses, including torture and disappearances.
There is also the issue of deploying a military plagued with corruption issues as a crime-fighting force. In Venezuela, the very highest levels of military command have been accused of complicity with organized crime.