A clash between security forces and criminal groups Thursday (8) left four dead in Caracas. The episode is a new chapter in the recent upsurge in violence in the west of the Venezuelan capital, a region previously aligned with Nicolás Maduro, but where the Chavismo is losing ground.
The shooting took place between agents of the Bolivarian National Guard and members of the Cota 905 gang, made up of criminals and dissidents from the so-called “collectives” – a kind of paramilitary force that helped the police and the army to suppress demonstrations against the Venezuelan dictatorship.
The deaths took place in Madariaga Square, in the El Paraíso neighborhood, where the Helicoid is also located, a prison where political prisoners of the regime are taken. According to the daily Efecto Cocuyo, a civilian was killed in an ambush while trying to cross the neighborhood.
Venezuela’s interior ministry confirmed that part of western Caracas had been closed for military actions and agents had been sent there. “We have structured organized criminal groups there who intend to end peace in the city,” Minister Carmen Meléndez said.
The Cota 905 and other criminal factions dominate this region of the capital, known as the “red districts” – a color identified with Chavismo -, and force traders and traffickers to pay protection fees. A few months ago, the security forces began to carry out operations in these places to regain control and expel the bandits. It is in one of these “red light districts”, 23 de Enero, that the remains of Hugo Chávez (1954-2013), Maduro’s predecessor, are found.
It is also from this region that the large demonstrations of support for Chavez and, later, for the current leader of the country, generally came out. The opposition marches, in turn, attracted residents from the east of the capital. This is what happened during the protest wave of 2014, for example.
The political division was ultimately reflected even in the provision of public services. The western area, where the diet’s popularity was greatest, was once better served by the basic food basket distribution program, in addition to receiving more investment in road works and having more garbage collection. frequent. On the other hand, lack of energy is common.
Thus, for the opposition, the loss of Chavismo’s support in the region has generated social discontent. “We have set up a war zone there,” opposition leader Juan Guaidó said Thursday. “These groups were armed and defended by the dictatorship as zones of peace for social control. Today, it is a total lack of control which endangers the lives of all and which reflects the kidnappings and the absence of the State on a daily basis. “