As Venezuela’s political, economic and social crisis deepened in 2017, the country once again became a major player in organised crime in the Americas. President Nicolás Maduro and his administration appear to have failed to weaken either the epidemic of organised crime or international drug trafficking that is overrunning the nation.
Drugs from Colombia continue to pass through Venezuela unchallenged, with trafficking routes now under the control of several new criminal organisations. Worryingly, the Colombian rebel group, the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), has established a presence in Venezuela for the first time this year, while notorious Colombia criminal gang The Rastrojos, have also begun to make their presence felt in the region. Venezuela is now seen to be an important facilitator in the passage of illegal substances to the Caribbean and beyond, increasing their hold on the drug cartels of the Americas.
Earlier in the year, Maduro announced new security measures in which he proposed arming civilians in the fight against organised crime, leading to groups of armed civilians, or “collective’s” participating in official security operations. More than just vigilante groups, these individuals often have links to criminal activities themselves.
As Black Mountain Solutions has already reported, the summer saw massive anti-government protests marred by the involvement of the colectivo, leading to the murders of several opposition protestors. The hard-line approach of the current administration appears to be failing in its mission to combat organised crime in the area, as the country sinks further into chaos and anarchy. The government sanctions lack impact, and they are fighting a losing battle as the government itself fights against internal corruption following sanctions on many high level officials themselves tied into the drug trade in Venezuela.
With the current administration having both supported and received support from the criminal elements to which it is closely tied, just how will the country rise again? Militarisation is also having minimal effects on crime, as the security forces also suffer from criminality within their own ranks.
With Maduro looking to run for re-election in 2018, has the nation any chance is taking back its country from the hands of the corrupt and the criminal? As a highly respected Security Company in Venezuela, we certainly hope they can.