"Malandros" as a national security threat

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    Of all the disasters Venezuelans currently face, crime is by far the most pressing. Yet for all its seriousness, how well do we understand the nature of the problem? If we are honest, are we ready to make the sacrifices necessary to defeat this threat?

    I’ve spent the past few days holed up in a hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, discussing international security with 300 policy makers, journalists, members of various armed forces, wonks, and writers. It was an eye-opening experience, one that I will be writing about some more in the next few days. But one of the main things I took from the meeting … is the sheer complexity Venezuelans face on the issue of crime.

    Countries go through crime waves. Sometimes they ride the wave and the problem goes away on its own. Other times, they proactively solve them. But few countries are facing the public safety armageddon that Venezuela faces. The combination of drugs, impunity, state implosion, dropping fiscal revenues, and wholesale desmadre is a perfect storm, and the problem just keeps getting worse.

    That is why it is a mistake to simplify the problem. The beast we face is enormous. Malandros are our ISIL, colectivos armados our al-Qaeda.

    Think about it: these non-state actors are effectively controlling parts of our territory, operating with complete impunity, using horrible methods to achieve their goals. They are overrunning state forces, and they are changing the fabric of our society for the worse. Our people live in fear because of them.

    Worst of all: they’re winning!

    The question, then, is what is it going to take to stem the tide. I really don’t know, but let me shoot some thoughts.

    It’s going to require a lot of intelligence – meaning interception of cell phones, infiltration of gangs, spying of Facebook accounts, etc. That requires technology, money, and human capital.

    It’s also going to require manpower – lots of it. We need more cops, true, but we also need a ton more prosecutors, judges, prison guards, and yes, prisons. Unless we are envisioning some sort of wholesale amnesty for malandros (maybe we can have a peace process in Havanna!), we need to understand that defeating this is going to require getting tough.

    Finally, it’s going to require new legislation that aligns the different state actors in the same fight.

    Obviously, none of this is going to happen while chavismo is in power, but if there is a change, we shouldn’t kid ourselves: we are talking massive, expensive, complex nation building here. Which is why we should laugh at any of our leaders who say that simple things such as “education” are the answer.

    The challenge Venezuelans will face on the security front is enormous. It is similar to the challenges militant groups pose for Western nations. It is going to require an intense focus and a serious injection of resources to solve it.

    We can either prepare for it, or simply throw in the towel right now.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Después de leerte y objetivamente ver las dos ofertas políticas contrapuestas, lo mas sensato para cualquier ciudadano común es irse pal carrizo. Estamos en medio de un huracán que va a durar mucho y que unos por negligencia y otros por ignorancia parece que no van a resolver.

    2. Even if a goverment IS acutally interested on fixing the problem, the best that it can offer is the Colombia experience: Terrorism followed by a Caldera-I-esque “pacification”. Screw that.

      There’s also the other sensible solution, which is kill every single living being on malandro-controlled areas.

    3. There are many kinds of crime but the one that is most troublesome is violent crime perpetrated by gangs of young men generally of marginal background who are territorially based who often engage in drug trafficking and consumption or are fed the idea that to be achieve manly dignity one must be cruel, abusive, thuggish, heartless to other people one scorns as weaklings or as social fiends . Where crime persecution and punishment is woefully inefficient and people might respect and admire you for your criminal behaviour , who are raised in an enviroment of parental abandonement , abuse or neglect , in time these forms of behaviour and feeling become a rooted culture of crime machismo violence , where someones elses property is up for the taking as the wages of feats of machismo violence .Once this mode of life is made part of a subculture , a barrio subculture it feeds on itself and captures whoever is brought up inside that culture. Then it starts spreading to other segments of society growing and growing until it became a plague .
      Poverty by itself doenst breed violent crime , there are a lot of poverty stricken countries where the kind of violent crime we know in Venezuela is absent or very limited in scope . Moreover in Venezuela poverty is anything but new but the kind of crime we suffer today was unknown, something has been happenning in recent decades thats made this scourge of violent crime progressively worsen .

      Education is useless because it doesnt change the personality traits that people brought up in these subcultures experience as a daily natural part of their life. Its not just lack of a job opportunity or a trade that make these gangs flourish , there is something else, something deeper, something in the culture ,in having no familty structure impose a sense of self control and discipline on young bored man who want something more exciting to spice up their life and make them feel important and relevant to their fellows.

      • Hi Bill,

        To add to your analysis.

        I believe materialism and consumerism as modern ideologies are in play here too. Venezuelan society values conspicuous consumption, yet if you were born in a dispossessed segment, by honest means there is no hope to achieve the consumption and the prestige it brings. I am thinking here of fancy sports shoes, designer clothes or nifty cellphones. So the bargain of engaging in crime is incredibly tempting. Again, it is not that you want to be a criminal, you negotiate with evil, you indulge one night, you say only one kidnapping and yet as you step into this path, you are pulled further and further into the lifestyle. The story of “Breaking Bad” (watch it if you haven’t, it is extraordinary TV), Walter White did bad things for noble reasons and the consequences were devastating.

        Now multiply this terrible bargain by a population. It takes a handful of people ‘breaking bad’ to unleash a crime wave (remember it takes a few hundred fighters to start a guerrilla insurrection). Each one of these newly minted criminals becomes a foot soldier to the gangs.

        Flirting with evil is often justified by embracing relativism and utilitarianism. All you need to do is think about some reason, any reason and you can do what is objectively evil. Even ‘comandante galactico’ at some point said that stealing from the rich was morally justified because they had exploited the poor to start with.

        • Is not the whole world “breaking bad”? I don’t mean to seem apocalyptic but the breakdown in just plain ethics the world over is increasing at an astonishing rate. Every single human being on this planet knows the difference between right and wrong BUT people are using the greater good (read their personal good) theory to justify their actions. Most of the time this justification is just a tangled web of lies and deceit based on BS religious, political, or social beliefs but in reality it is so that they too can “have their turn” . The breakdown in moral fabric is not the fault of capitalism , nor socialism or even communism,. It is the perversion of all forms by individuals that believe they have some sort of divine entitlement to be powerful. It is the lust for power that perverts the entire process and greed, corruption, a human right abuses, etc. etc. are just symptoms of this lust for power. At the pinnacle of this lust for power is the delusion that they are doing everything for the have-not’s when they are the focal point of all that is wrong with the system and it is all for the have’s in the end at the complete expense of the have not’s. Venezuela is in a tailspin that it will take generations to turn around. Of course what will continue to extend this madness is the oil. As long as the world needs the oil the world ( not just the US, because the US is now self sufficient) will tacitly support regimes like Venezuela until they run out of oil. Today the new imperialists are the Chinese. And they care even less for human rights than the Venezuelan’s or the US. Somehow, history saying “I told you so” just does not cover the nightmare that is Venezuela.

          • The Swedish author Hjalmar Söderberg, in 1905 said it this way: “You want to be loved, failing that admired, failing that feared, failing that hated and despised. One wants to instill the people some kind of emotion. The soul shudders of emptiness and wants contact at any price.” from Doktor Glas, 1905

            • People in their innermost emotional self have a need for respect both self respect and the respect of their peers and of society in general , but that respect must be won , it is not decreed or legislated , it has to be earned by doing or achieving something which people have high regard for. What does a young half illiterate barrio youth have that earns him the respect of others ?? his sordid feats as the member of a criminal gang. as the victimizer of people he can despise as weaker and more vulnerable than himself. or maybe belonging to a revolutionary cohort that shouts bombastic slogans and persecutes a politically demonized enemy.!! How do you fill that void inside the young man that has him claim a place in the sun.!!

        • Renacuajo : thanks for the added reflexions on the origins of violent crime , no doubt rampant crass consumerism and deep poverty are one of those causes which stoke the fires of violent crime , The vain attractions of Conspicuous Consumerism probably is one of the motives taking people in the edge of penury to a life of crime. Also as you rightly point out with time these forms of behaviour become pandemic.

    4. The problem with so called “malandros”, goes beyond them. The society is one made of malandros almost in its entirety. Remember, for example, the invaders of David Tower, some years ago. They were thieves. They were stolen public goods, Buildings in that case. More recently, but also painful, was the appropiation of “La Francia” building, It took merely one word: “Exprópiese”. Without money to paid for it, we are talking about robbery. Again. The violence became “organic”, when social violence appears and instead of fighting it, the society goes in the middle: neither for it, nor openly against it. I can’t remember how many times I should run at the UCV on thursdays and fridays, because the encapuchados start their particular war against… anything. Then the Metropolitan Police arrived, and the battle begun. Shots, fire, bombings (some even kill people inside the UCV), but when it comes to the police to follow this bastards and let the police do its job… Well, mi hermano, you don’t need to be so severe with them… Let him go, He won’t do it again… And the favorite one: “Policias maricos, jalabolas de los ricos”… That’s a poetic view of justice: isn’t it?… And another one was the fact that we should preserve the university independence, therefore, no police or armed corp can get inside the UCV… That’s fine… It didn’t solve one single problem… It just get worse over time… And I have to said this: I warned against such complacency with the encapuchados. I strong support the fact that the PM should enter the UCV holy land, and fight them. That should be finish, one way or the other. Nobody paid attention. Nobody listened to me. I got my degree and left… Bu today, the encapuchados are honorable members of the venezuelan goverment… Who can think of ending the epidemic violence of Venezuela, when the monster’s fathers are ruling the country, and receiving advice on “social control mechanisms” in countries like China?…

          • Okay. So what would happen, groups of young men would come in to the campus and just start destroying stuff? I’m not following what happened… My wife told me of some violence when she was in university, but it was obvertly politically related (collectives attacking students during protests).

            • It wasn’t that way… Indeed, what really happened was that for any reason (price of the UCV canteen, the student’s ticket at Caracas Metro…), this guys los encapuchados, started a war against the empire, which interrupted transit on the Fajardo highway and disturbs… They were allways inside the UCV campus and nobody I mean nobody inside the university dare to stop them, as far as I remember… And when the police get enough from them, and decided to get inside the UCV to pursue them, the authorities claimed against the government for a violation of universitary autonomy (one more)… I know the PM wasn’t the world’s best police corp… But I believe that they should do their job inside or outside the UCV just because order should be restored… But nothing of this happened… Instead, the encapuchados that were taken by the PM should be released for any “logical” reason, and that puts the UCV on square one again… I remember at least 2 professors who told me this: “If I can get inside the UCV when there’s is a PEO at Venezuela Square, you too can get inside the university, and if that day we have an exam, I’ll be here”… So, the problem of that madness (I don’t call it violence), wasn’t just politically related… We all know there was many more reasons for that madness, than the political one.

    5. Francisco Suniaga about malandros as a political force at prodavinci:

      “En múltiples ocasiones, Chávez contaba que Fidel Castro le decía que a diferencia de lo que había ocurrido en Cuba, de donde desde los primeros tiempos emigraron masivamente los adversarios de su régimen, en Venezuela la contrarevolución se había quedado, no había huido, que él tenía el enemigo adentro. Pronto descubrió, sin embargo, el aliado que facilitaría la tarea de la limpieza de sus adversarios: los malandros y delincuentes venezolanos, los urkade este país. Un ejército de miles que con garantizada impunidad judicial asola los barrios y urbanizaciones de nuestras ciudades y aterroriza a sus habitantes, forzándolos a vivir bajo un toque de queda y empujándolos al exilio.

      http://prodavinci.com/blogs/la-deconstruccion-del-regimen-dictatorial-de-venezuela-por-francisco-suniaga/

    6. “It’s going to require a lot of intelligence – meaning interception of cell phones, infiltration of gangs, spying of Facebook accounts, etc. That requires technology, money, and human capital.”

      Hello! You just described what SEBIN does today (helped by the Cubans and Chinese), only that it’s again citizens who oppose the government. Criminals will never go against themselves. So most of the measures you mentioned will have to be put into action in a future government, as far as these degenerates are in power the forecast is quite obscure. Crime actually serves their purpose…

    7. Value systems make up the base of herd behavior.People have the countries they create.

      In Venezuela there has always been an admiration for ‘viveza ‘. Many people simply see it as normal to steal if they can get away with it.There is also a concomitant value for protecting the underdog, but an unwillingness to define the underdog as someone who is hardworking and honest. Punishment for crimes is not always seen as ” compassionate”.There is less tendency to enforce strict punishment than there is to protect the innocent.Until the majority of people see this, there can be no lasting change.

      Values are inverted in Venezuela.

    8. Juan; David Smolansky, Hatillo Mayor, is supposed to be attending the conference. Have you talked with him there? He claims that crime has been reduced in El Hatillo. How? What measures weretaken?

      • “It breaks my heart, but this is not what I want for either of us. I want to make this work, but I need you to be willing to change.”

        I read your text, and what I can say is that, although it may sound as a cliché, it is really not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

        The key word is ‘altruism’.

        Take Quico, for instance, he might have flaws like everyone else does, but it’s undeniable that he did create a fantastic and influential blog against Chavismo, which has been readed by millions of people worldwide since its inception. Take Nagel, a very clever guy who under normal circumstances would probably be concerned with his personal and professional matters only, but instead has chosen to dedicate a fair amount of his time to write and speak about his country’s problems and how to tackle them. I really doubt that Venezuela is doing a lot for both Quico and Nagel, I would even say that this blog probably brings them more problems and worries than anything else, apart from reducing the time they could have been spending with their families. But yet they keep moving on with this.

        I think you should be inspired by them, keep updating your recent blog, keep writing about the regime, start doing translations, start looking for people who share your same feelings and start up whatever thing might help the “cause”. But if you conditionate your help to a improbable “return” that very likely won’t come from Venezuela’s side, you will never do a thing for your country.

        By the way, you don’t need to be in Venezuela to help your country. I believe that you can actually do more against the regime from outside.

        All the best for you and good luck in your new country.

        • Thanks for your advice, I really appreciate it. If you have 3 minutes, I will ask you, please, to copy your comment and put it in my blog, so I can manage your valuable opinion through the tool I’m using.

    9. Needed; Regime change, intelligent/well-prepared leaders, enforceable/enforced laws, non-corrupt judiciary/police enforcers, adequate prisons, gainful employment opportunities for youth, none of which is available in Venezuela, nor will be for a long time (if ever).

    10. I don’t understand how anyone would ever think of raising kids in Venezuela (obviously millions have left and more are trying, but others have not). To me, it’s truly hopeless.

      In many ways, attempting to rebuild a completely broken society takes more patriotism than storming a barricade.

    11. There is no “magic pill” or “silver bullet” for controlling crime. It requires the hard work of dedicated professionals year after year. Right now, Venezuela doesn’t have the professionals nor the commitment of the government to doing the job. At some point, the military will have to deal with the gangs and the gang lords. And, when they do the job, they will not be “enforcing the law”. They will fighting a war. Two very different things.

      • Some weeks and topics ago, I said that among some other measures to fix the country, there was “Disarm and neutralization of criminal gangs by force, termination if necessary.”

        Everybody freaked out and started to claim that I was “advocating to slaughter and murder half of the country’s population”.

        War on crime gangs isn’t easy nor pretty, they must be dismantled by force, and if somebody’s got to kick the bucket, I honestly prefer it to be the criminals instead of the law-abiding citizens.

          • Wow! From responses below, I see the “freaking” problem. See my discussion with Bill Bass below for a rational view of what I really meant.

        • “Everybody freaked out and started to claim that I was “advocating to slaughter and murder half of the country’s population.”

          If that came into being, and the half to be snuffed out was the chavista half, we’d have our country back again. And we would not let the rats who abandoned ship return and share the good times.

            • En realidad, y como dije en el otro tema, el que se arrecharía cuando se hable de primero, depurar los organismos encargados de aplicar las leyes, y segundo, liquidar a los criminales de ser necesario, son los que tienen familiares que son choros.

              Absolutamente todos los demás gobiernos en todas las campañas políticas no se han atrevido jamás a decir que van a ir contra los criminales porque siguen creyendo que estos y sus familiares son algún grupo significativo de votantes, por lo que implícitamente prometen impunidad y “dale que aquí no pasó nada”.

              Cuando hablaba de acabar con los choros de ser necesario, no es la ridiculez populista / chaburra de “van a ir a matar al pueblo en los cerros.” Yo no he dicho eso precisamente porque estoy contra todas esas estupideces de chantajes populistas manipuladores; a lo que me refiero, y lo que se supone que es que dice el sentido común, es que el criminal que no se quiera rendir y entregar para pagar su sentencia preso como se lo merece y siga emperrando en continuar robando, violando y matando, pues bueno, al momento de cojer a tiros a la policía o a los ciudadanos pues tendrá bala por esa jeta como se lo ha buscado, la policía tiene que estar formada para usar la fuerza letal como último recurso, por eso no puede dejarse masacrar por los choros.

              A las bandas criminales hay que enseñarles quien es el que manda, hacerles ver que ellos no mandan un coño y que si se las tiran de arrechitos amenazando se les dará un coñazo que los estrelle de cabeza contra el suelo, porque lamentablemente es ESA la forma en que el criminal obedece, mediante la amenaza y la fuerza, porque el criminal no tiene ni conciencia ni mentalidad de obedecer y seguir leyes porque sea algo bueno, dado que su formación lo que le enseñó es que él es superior a todos los “estúpidos pendejos” que trabajan. Hay que entender que aunque hayan criminales que se puedan reformar y reinsertarse en la sociedad, hay criminales que no tienen salvación, y por lo menos el 90% de los violadores y asesinos en Venezuela encajan de plano en la segunda categoría.

              Y sí, me sigue pareciendo incomprensible que gente que sabe dónde está parada y tiene noción de como se enfrenta el problema de inmediato caiga en el jueguito populista de darle impunidad absoluta a los criminales porque “los choros son el pueblo”

            • yo creo que se arrecharía cualquier ser humano mínimamente pensante chamín…

              Seriously, you’re advocating a policy of enabling police death squads to be the sole judges of who’s allowed to live and who’s supposed to die. And then you get offended if people point out that this makes you…how to put this politely? an absolute far right reactionary extremist.

              Enfrenta tu barranco: if you advocate fascist policies, people will point out you’re a fascist.

            • Meh, sigo sin darme a entender.
              Yo no apoyo los escuadrones de la muerte, porque está el peo de que termine muerto alguien que no tenía nada que ver con el peo, el proceso lógico es que el criminal sea apresado para luego ser pasado a un juicio imparcial donde luego de demostrar su culpabilidad debería ser puesto preso lo que se determine en su sentencia según el crimen.

              Lo que digo es que la policía, como en muchas otras partes del mundo, tiene que estar entrenada para usar fuerza letal sólo de ser necesario, por “sólo de ser necesario” me refiero a proteger la vida de los mismos agentes o proteger la vida de los ciudadanos (Como pasa en el caso de enfrentamientos con asesinos y secuestradores que todo lo resuelven de un tiro en la cara), me dejé llevar y al divagar se me perdió la idea.

              Como todo lo que se haga respecto a este tema, primero hay que sacar a todos los corruptos del sistema, y todo el que entre tiene que ser sometido a una serie de investigaciones y pruebas que determinen que no es un psicópata o criminal en potencia, actualmente existen escuadrones asesinos que andan matando gente por ahí porque el gobierno le da uniforme y armas a cualquier loco, cuando se supone que son resposabilidades de la mayor importancia y cuidado.

              El peo, como dije antes, es que cualquier plan que diga que enfrentará con la fuerza a las bandas criminales de plano se le cataloga de fascista, porque el populismo utiliza la impunidad de los criminales como medio para conseguir votos de estos y sus familias.

              Si eso sigue pareciendo fascistas, pues ya que carajo ¡Hail Strudel! xD

            • In the U.S. last year, there were 400 killings by police. In Venezuela, with 10 times less population, there were an estimated 2,700 killings from “resistencia a la autoridad”, bureaucratese for cop shootings.

              And you may have notice the US is awash in protests about use of lethal force by the police.

              Venezuelan Cops *ALREADY* use deadly force routinely, as a first-not-last option against choros they perceive as incorregible, or who they can’t be bothered to dig up evidence on. Our police fatality rate almost seventy times higher than in a notoriously trigger-happy-cop country like the U.S.

              The show ’em who’s boss, brute-force approach is de facto the crime control policy of chavismo, which isn’t willing or able to invest in improving other parts of the criminal justice system, and which is only too willing to wink-and-nudge at cops, let ’em do their worse, and never ever prosecutes a police shooting.

              While you’re busy with your macho posturing, chavismo is out implementing your ideas day in and day out, leaving a little mountain of corpses by the roadside. The result has been a climate of dramatically increased lawlessness all over the country and much more overall crime.

              Now the reality is that if you do insist that the police start using deadly force only when absolutely necessary to protect officers’ lives, then you’re advocating a policy of dramatically reduced use of police violence…and you start sounding exactly like the kind of politicians you acuse of coddling criminals.

              Actually, you’re lost in a labyrinth made of out of your own macho bullshit, Ralph: demanding contradictory responses from police largely, I think, cuz you don’t have the first clue what you’re talking about.

            • That’s what happens when the system is full of corrupt officers.

              “…Venezuelan Cops *ALREADY* use deadly force routinely, as a first-not-last option…” You said it, currently they shoot first, ask questions later, that should change, and that starts offing the chavista regime, that’s used and perfected that paradigm.

              “…implementing your ideas day in and day out, leaving a little mountain of corpses by the roadside.” My idea was to target the criminal gangs, chavismo targets the violence against political opponents who are treated as “enemies of the revolution” by the official speech, while leaving criminals untouched, and you know as well as I that that last one is true as the dawn.

              “…and which is only too willing to wink-and-nudge at cops, let ‘em do their worse, and never ever prosecutes a police shooting.” Again, widespread corruption in all levels of the justice system, which leads and is built on impunity.

              “…then you’re advocating a policy of dramatically reduced use of police violence…” I’m sure there’s plenty of procedures on use of non-lethal force to subdue criminals that don’t pose a death threat, it’s not contradictory.

              “…and you start sounding exactly like the kind of politicians you acuse of coddling criminals…” I would sound like said politicians if I claimed that criminals are “misguided and marginalized boys who only need a kind word to turn their ways”, which has been exactly the kind of speech said by all populists since the 80s in Venezuela.

              The problems you mentioned are all to blame in the corruption present in all levels of state, corrupt policemen who kill people when they please, corrupt courts and attorneys who won’t prosecute corrupt officers, and corrupt politicians that blame everything on the citizens.

              Take the corrupts out of the equation, and you can start implementing policies to fight crime, but while there are the “chavista macho cops” around, all measures taken to fight crime are for naught.

              It’s not about “macho bullshit”, it’s about asserting control over criminal gangs to protect citizens.

    12. In Colombia and Peru it also seemed hopeless, they had a similar problem with guerrilla. The solution was to bring it on. Those that brought it on were repayed with prison or the threat of prison, and the ongoing cost is of course significant: desaparecidos, collateral damage, incubation of paramilitary criminals. But it worked. A difference is that the guerrillas are not urban. In Venezuela the paramilitaries permeate the urban areas. And, of course, they are government sponsored. If there is regime change, you may see a firestorm of amazing proportions if those paramilitaries organize into guerrillas.

        • The colombian guerrilas are preponderantly rural, they have made been responsible also for sensational urban attacks too, such as the palacio de justicia, but they are better known for ruling over large swaths of the countryside rather than urban enclaves. The qualifier urban versus rural is really to bring across the difference with Venezuela, where we are talking about paramilitary forces that rule entire shantytowns.

            • I forgot to mention that I was referring to the venezuelan traitors and infiltrated cuban invaders who were slaughtering venezuelans in the 60s, you know, like borrachera soto rojas, “head-asplode” russián and those, who were part of the commie guerrillas that were later “pacified”.

    13. Juan…more prisons?!? Do you REALLY think that that will solve our problems?

      Venezuela is one of the easiest countries in the world to get you to prison. Our laws give enormous power to authorities, to police, to the state. In Venezuela you can go to prison just because you were indirectly involved in an accident and you stay there a while until someone decides that it is time for you to go on trial.

      In Venezuela you are guilty until proven innocent. You can be years awaiting trial. You have armed forces all over the place. You have armed military outside in any public gathering…In Venezuela the police listen to your conversations, bugs your house, retrieves your car whenever they feel like it and yet, we have probably the HIGHEST rate of crime in the world.

      I totally disagree with you on this point and I also disagree on the fact that you are trying to equate the situation of Venezuela with the situation in Canada. Believe me, I know both, and they are WAY different.
      The menace of terrorism in Canada is serious and must be addressed, but it has nothing to do with the way we should address crime in Venezuela. Even if the fear is the same, the roots of both problems are quite different, and need different solutions.

      PS. take a flight to Montreal to change the air…

        • And today more than 99% of the murders go unpunished, meaning that if they were properly investigated and the criminals subjected to trial and the following prison, it would mean that Venezuela would need at least like 15.000 more prison beds.

          Keeping the current over-population that’s turned prisons into latrines from hell.

        • If only 50% of murders are solved, and the average murderer spends only five years in prison, then Venezuela needs 50,000 prison slots. Just for murderers – no room for rapists, extortionists, armed robbers, arsonists, fraudsters.

          And that would mean an average sentence of only 2 1/2 years for murder.

          Imprisonment is not a good answer to criminality; but leaving criminals at liberty is worse.

          • Effective law enforcement is the inmediate , stop gag solution but the radical solution has to do with promoting a cultural change in the way parents take responsibility for the children they bring to the world and socialize them into mature adults who are productive and self controlled in what they do . Of course also important is to create a system where there are no children born to fathers that lack the character or inclination to raise their children as good parents and that means systemic massive state supported birth control. 20 years ago our society wasnt as crime ridden as it has now become, what was different then that allowed a more controlled situation ?? This is a generational task , jails are only a temporary part of the answer but much more is needed. !!

        • Quico, I don’t think that a massive increase in the number of prisons will solve the problem. It is like upgrading your networking equipment without understanding why your traffic is out of hand.

          IMHO the root of our prison problem is STRUCTURAL because it is due to two major factors structural factors: 1) our penal laws and 2) our judiciary system.

          What we need is to clean up the law of all the little details that makes it easy for the state to put you in jail for minor things and speed up the judiciary system. Then, we can build more prisons, but not the other way around.

          Here’s a 4 year old post about it

          http://cuentosintrascendentes.blogspot.ca/2010/06/vas-preso.html

          • Sure, but Juan makes a point of writing a post that *stresses* the need for balanced investment across the criminal justice system: Intelligence, technology, human resources, and then “we need more cops, true, but we also need a ton more prosecutors, judges, prison guards, and yes, prisons.”

            Then you pick out ONE part out of that argument and make an argument that it won’t work, because we need…balanced investment!

            Ermmm….

            • You know, I think you are right Quico, I jumped to conclusions because he used the prison construction as the first item. I was over-interpreting.

            • Prisons are overcrowded as it is. Have you actually *been* to one of these places? Why do you hate prisoners so much, Bruni?

          • Every “you go to jai just because the asshole’s got an itch in their asshole” reason for not building more prisons, or any stuff that has to do with corrupt officers abusing authority, is completely eliminated by the obligatory first step into fixing the country’s problems: Getting rid of all traces of chavismo in any position of power, that way you eradicate like 95% of the current system’s arbitrariness.

            Not plucking out the corrupt officers aka “chavistas radicales enchufados that use power as a mean to fuck with people” is like putting the cart in front of the horses.

            I still support the idea of building more prisons as one step to help solving the problem, specially because of the critical overcrowding that exists right now.

      • Some time ago, I wrote a paper about the venezuelan prisons… Not from the usual point of view: violence, drug smuggling inside them, firearms and the rest of them… I was writing from the structure and coverage of the prison system… And I found something that was surprising to me: In Vzla, there is an area of 234.114 km2, without A SINGLE PRISON!!! The states without a prison are: Amazonas, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro and Vargas. There’s just one female prison (INOF in Los Teques), overcrowded as the others. And not surprising, but it got my attention, the state with more prisons is:… Miss Miranda. This land without prisons, could be an entire country with a size a bit smaller than Laos, but bigger than Guyana, for example. And, as many of you know, I left Vzla some time ago… I don’t this has changed a lot since the day I left.

    14. “It’s going to require a lot of intelligence – meaning interception of cell phones, infiltration of gangs, spying of Facebook accounts, etc. That requires technology, money, and human capital.”

      Hold your horses, big brother.

      As I’ve said before our cops are catching criminals way more times than they ought to.

      Where we need to focus is on the courts and the prison system, because those arrested aren’t being convicted, and those convicted are either being released early and unreformed. After the first arrest, they should be removed from society, so they don’t commit more crimes, then reformed, then released.

      My example is one of Monica Spear’s killers, alias Adolfito. No facebook hacking squad is going to make a difference, if the judges are going to be dismissing cases, releasing after 30 days, or giving them parole. And if the military is going to allow them to enlist anyway, ant then to steal weaponry, and then only give them a slap on the wrist for it.

      Some highlights of Adolfito’s criminal career, to further explain my point:
      – In 2003 the guy was caught by the police with a stolen motorcycle. A judge dismissed the case.
      – Then he spend some time in and out of prison
      – In 2007, already a notorious criminal, he joined the military. A generic background check should have prevented this.
      – In January 2008, he deserted the military, stealing a rifle and other military equipment/stuff
      – Then he settled his turf on the Valencia-Puerto Cabello highway and founded his gang.
      He improved his tactics of putting traps on the road, without being disturbed by the police for a while.
      – In 2009, a military court issued an arrest warrant on him (took them a year).
      – In 2010, the police caught him for drug trafficking. He only served 3 months in Tocuyito prison before being released
      – In July 2013, he was caught again, and released by the military court “on parole”. He was supposed to report back every 30 days. He never reported back.
      – In January 2013, he was caught by the locals, who were sick and tired of his crimes, and delivered to the police. Once the police start investigating, they find some objects that belonged to Monica Spear, and other less news-worthy victims.

      • I’d like to further add, that we are still dealing with street gangs, and small clumsy organizations. The most organized ones are the colectivos, but Tupamaros and the like are several leagues apart from ISIL, Al Qaeda or the Mexican cartels.

      • Quite a resume except. His inability to dodge the authorities is a weak spot, but the short terms are an indication of reasonable negotiation skills. Still, he needs to work on his networking skills. But I can see him running for the asamblea in a few years.

    15. While the causes of violence are complex, the target is not. This is largely an assault on poor people, and though all classes and backgrounds claim victims, your chances get much better as you get closer to the top. Everyone knows the complicity of the regime in the violence. Ironically but not inadvertently, chavismo is complicit in a state of violence largely directed at the poor.

    16. The main purpose of prisons is not to punish the criminals but to keep them isolated from the general population to protect the latter from the former , thats why you need effective law enforcement and a system for jailing the criminals and keep them from harming the innocent they prey upon.

      If you cant organize or run a system of effective crime enforcement then there are two choices , either you let the criminal element have their way leaving them out on the streets or you go after them using the same violence they use against the general population .

      Death squads are no substitute for effective law enforcement , they are in every way condemnable but given the alternative maybe they are condonable in certain situations . That s whats so difficult to understand , that too often the best policy or practice is not the most moral one but one which while inmoral produces the best practical results overall .

      Truman had to decide between dropping the atom bombs on hundreds of thousand of innocent japanese civilians killing them in an atrocious manner or continuing with the war with conventional means and having one million more casualties as a result , Dropping the bomb was a crime , but allowing one more million people to die when a perpetrating a lesser crime might prevent it was an even bigger crime . Both choices were undesirable and awful but comprehensible on practical terms .

      What we never want to accept is that many times there are no clean solutions to difficult problems , that the only way of dealing with them is through faustian pacts where one does not whats ideally good but what represents the least worse of two terrible choices. !!

      • As the title of this post says, the degree of crime in Venezuela has become a national security threat. The “malandros” actually occupy and control territory. Inside any territory which the government actually controls and exercises sovereignty, keeping the peace and enforcing the law is a police function. But, when a territory must be conquered first, this is a military function. For example, the operations in Colombia against FARC guerrillas and the other paramilitaries is a military one, not a policing function.

        In order for a police and courts to function effectively, the majority of the population must recognize and respect their authority. In Venezuela today, their are wide swaths of territory which are effectively no longer under civilian authority. In some places, the real civilian authority (effectively) is the “collectivos”. In the prisons, the authority lies with the “pranes”. In the border areas, it is the military or the paramilitaries.

        At some point, the Venezuelan government will have to re-take and consolidate control of its territory. This will be a military function first. Only after rival authorities have been eliminated can the police and the courts hope to do their jobs.

        • Excellent point Roy, there can be no effective law enforcement where govt has relinquished the exercise of authority in many areas and places to local colectivos or organized criminal bands ( as happens in large areas of Barlovento for example) . A couple of examples:

          A group of chocolatiers wanted to set up a Cocoa growing enterprise in Barlovento for local consumption and export , they went to the Miranda governors office and where told that because the govt had decided not to interfere with the local gangs ruling the region (declaring it a peace area) , they could not intervene to protect the business if they decided to set it up. . result the chocolatiers abandoned the idea.

          About a year or so a go there was an armed battle between two disputing psuv bands in front of the Pdvsa building , with one person getting killed and the fachade getting sprayed with machinegun bullets , the GNB response ?? totally passive , Why?? because their job was to protect the premises not its environs , whatever happened beyond its gates didnt concern them . !!

    17. You need radical Imperialist solutions such as legalizing cannabis. Today your entire society ‘relaxes’ on whiskey (beer, rum), cocaine, caffeine, and nicotine. You have a highly stressed out and wired society. Get everyone free access to marijuana and start chilling. Seriously.

    18. Venezuela is a perfect place to start manufacturing and selling crystal-meth. It’s a matter of time. Once this happens, the scourge will hit hard as meth is more powerful and less expensive than cocaine. This is what is happening in Mexico. Venezuela provides all the precursor chemicals…you just need to import the raw powder from China.

      • Setting a black market of medicines and first-need products in Venezuela has become more profitable than drugs, after all, not everybody may want to buy crystal meth to get high, but I assure you everybody wants to buy toilet paper to not having to shove a “tuza” in their nethers or might be willing to beat the crap of someone else for a bath soap to avoid smelling like a rotting corpse.

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