Some of Venezuela’s colectivos – an association of pro-government militias – has loudly rejected a government plan to disarm the citizenry as a way to deal with the country’s violence crisis.
Jhonny Subera spoke today on behalf of the colectivo Fuerza Comunal 4F, and said:
We believe it to be totally absurd that [the government] is asking the revolutionary colectivos to disarm in the same way that they’re asking criminal gangs to do. No! We are not criminal gangs, we are revolutionary organizations.
The colectivos are referring specifically to the Plan Nacional de Desarme [National Disarmament Plan], a government initiative launched with the goal of helping to reduce violence in the country. The plan, which kicked off in late September, offers incentives for people to voluntarily turn in any weapons they might have in exchange for “incentives”. The incentives include electronics, medicine, and construction equipment.
This latest disagreement between the national government and its most ardent supporters follows a period of heightened tensions between the two groups. In early October, five members of a colectivo including a leader of one of them were killed during a police raid in Caracas, which resulted in the entire leadership of the police body involved to be fired.
Amnesty International Calls for Lopez’s Release
The organization issued a press release today in which it decried the fact that Lopez has been incarcerated for more than five months in a military facility pending his trial, and that it believes that:
… Leopoldo Lopez’s incarceration appears to be based on political reasons. The order to detain him was issued one day after the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, and the Minister of Foreign Relations, Elias Jaua Milano, publicly accused Lopez of being responsible for the violence that took place during the anti-government protests; for his part, President Nicolas Maduro called for his incarceration one day after his detention.
The press release goes on to say that the way government officials such as Maduro and Cabello have behaved “do not send a clear signal” that the executive branch respects the impartiality of the judiciary, and “put into doubt” that the judicial branch is respecting Lopez’s right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Finally, Amnesty International recognizes the findings of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which calls for Lopez’s release.
Amnesty International’s latest statement is consistent with a similar one issued in early March of this year, in which it called Lopez’s detention an attempt by the government “to silence dissent in the country”.
Brazil Files Complaint Over Jaua Visit
Brazil filed a formal complaint against the Venezuelan government after realising that Minister of Communes Elias Jaua visited the country unannounced, and that he had signed co-operation agreements with a local political movement. The complaint was made by the Brazilian Ambassador to Venezuela, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo.
According to O Estado de Sao Paulo, Jaua travelled to Brazil to sign a deal with representatives of the Landless Workers’ Movement while the Brazilian government believed that he had travelled to the country with the express purpose of accompanying his wife she received medical care.
If true, this version of events contradicts Jaua’s retelling of the story. According to Jaua, he was in Brazil on official business, and it was during this time that his wife fell ill. Instead of travelling back to Venezuela to seek medical attention for her, Jaua explained, they decided to go to a local hospital.