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  • The phenomenon of paramilitary groups in Venezuela is on the rise, according to the government.
    In Depth

    The phenomenon of paramilitary groups in Venezuela is on the rise, according to the government.

After an attack by paramilitaries left three Venezuelan soldiers critically injured Aug. 19, President Nicolas Maduro revealed that there are 30 different Colombian paramilitary groups operating inside Venezuela.

Paramilitarism on the Rise in Venezuela

Until 1997, Venezuela had been relatively free of paramilitary groups. By 2003, 500 Colombian paramilitaries were active in the country. A report released by local human rights groups that year revealed that as many as 120 campesino and indigenous leaders had been killed over the past four years, almost all of them government sympathizers and mainly in the state of Zulia, which shares a border with Colombia. Over the years, more and more ties between the Colombian paramilitaries and Venezuelan opposition, as well as elites against indigenous and union rights have been uncovered. Read more...

The Threat is Real

The Infiltration of Colombian Paramilitaries

The sharp rise in paramilitary activity in Venezuela has been most notable in the states of Zulia and Tachira, both bordering Colombia and governed by the right-wing opposition. Read More...

What do Paramilitaries Do?​

Shortages, Smuggling and Paramilitaries in Venezuela

While opposition leaders often blame a lack of foreign exchange, price controls, and a fiscal deficit as the primary causes for the shortages, the Venezuelan government has claimed that economic sabotage by the private sector, speculation and smuggling of goods to Colombia are more to blame. Read more...

Who’s Behind the Paramilitaries?

The shady death squads have their historic link to rich landowners and self defense brigades, but their acitivity has had to be sanctioned — or at least ignored — through the years by authorities. The administration of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela beleives extreme factions of political and social elites, in both Venezuela and Colombia, are behind the current sprawl of the brigades into Venezuela. Maduro points to former Colombian president and current Senator Alvaro Uribe as one of the perpetrators of the problem.

“We have all the will to support the democratic opposition of Venezuela until they defeat the Castro-Chavista dictatorship that Maduro imposes,” Uribe, who governed Colombia from 2002 to 2010, ominously said recently.

RELATED: Who is Alvaro Uribe?

During his time in power, Uribe launched the Orian military operation aimed at cracking down on leftist political movements that were perceived as a threat to the right-wing Colombian government. Thousands were forcibly disappeared, many at the hands of paramilitary groups. Uribe has also been directly implicated in carrying out atrocities across Colombia through operations known as “false positives,” a strategy where military forces would shoot civilians unrelated to armed groups in order to raise body counts. The Colombian army in 2008, denounced Uribe, accusing him of carrying out these crimes as well as using other policies to promote violence in the country.

But Uribe is not the only suspect in what, for Venezuela, is turning out to be a political criminal web. A recent high-profile murder threw up a suspect who claims to have links to U.S. politicians, as well as paramilitaries in Venezuela.

Video: Murder Suspect Revelations Link to Opposition, US Politicians

The US and the Militarization of Latin America

By Eric Draitser

The deployment of this sort of combination of military, paramilitary, and militarized law enforcement is indicative of the U.S. strategy for re-militarizing the region. Rather than simply overt military occupation, Washington “provides assistance” in the form of military aid. Read more...

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