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After announcing yesterday that three police organizations would be taken over by the Ministry of the Interior, National Assembly Deputy Freddy Bernal revealed today that the Libertador police would be one of the three. According to Bernal, the takeover – which is only supposed to last 90 days – happened at the request of Libertador municipality mayor Jorge Rodriguez.

According to the Gaceta Oficial No. 40.537, the other two police services to be temporarily taken over are those of the cities of Ceiba and Cristobal Rojas in Trujillo and Miranda states, respectively. In addition, the entire police bodies servicing Tinaco, Cojedes and Pedro Zaraza, Guarico, were suspended.

The takeover of Policaracas and the other two bodies will allow the Comision Presidencial para la Transformacion del Sistema Policial [National Commission for the Transformation of the Police System] to asses the services’ structural and operational effectiveness.

Colombia Denies Serra Murder Paramilitary Link

Despite repeated assertions that the mastermind behind Robert Serra’s murder is a Colombian paramilitary, the government of Colombia today claimed that Leiva Padilla Mendoza – a.k.a. “El Colombia” – is neither Colombian nor a paramilitary.

In an interview with Colombian radio, the Colombian ambassador to Venezuela, Luis Eladio Perez, said that his government does not possess any evidence to validate the Venezuelan government’s claims that Mendoza acted on behalf of a Colombian paramilitary group. Perez said:

That murder was committed by [Serra’s] own bodyguards. We don’t know why they did it. Within that group of bodyguards, there is citizen [with ties?] to Colombia – “El Colombia” – who is a Venezuelan citizen born to Colombian parents. I think he was the person who was captured a few days ago in Cartagena, and from what I understand is about to be extradited at the request of the Venezuelan government.
The investigations, of course, at first pointed to Colombian paramilitaries. Obviously, such a circumstance puts us Colombians in a difficult situation, because it could give rise to xenophobia… they try to lay the blame on Colombian paramilitaries, and of course, ex-President Alvaro Uribe.
To reiterate, this is all that we know. I hope the Venezuelans authorities clear up this issue…

Perez also said that, as far as he knew, the only connection Mendoza has to Colombia is that his parents were born there, but that he was born in Venezuela.

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