Deadly Peace in the Tuy Valley (Updated)

Ocumare-del-TuyAnother weekend, another massacre in Venezuela: ten people were killed and three wounded during a late birthday party in Lomas de Guadalupe, a recently opened housing complex located near the town of Ocumare del Tuy (Miranda State).

Sadly, the details of the incident sound all too familiar. An armed group came into the building and shot everyone on sight. Even if the whole event took less than three minutes, the victims were shot multiple times by the perpetrators (specially in the head).

As the formal investigation has been opened, it seems like this is just the latest in the brutal turf war currently taking place in the Tuy Valley between several criminal gangs. The direct consequence of this is a huge increase in homicides in the area.

According to El Universal’s Deivis Ramirez, there have been 274 murders in the Tuy Valley by mid-April (35% more than the same period last year). Ten of those murdered were cops. And some of the local bands are going even further to settle differences with rivals and hold control of their territory.

But wait a moment… isn’t Ocumare del Tuy what the central government calls a “peace zone”? Well, not quite…

Since the establishment of the State-sponsored Peace and Life Movement, and the creation of the so-called “peace zones”, many have complained that places like the Tuy Valley has turned into crime sanctuaries instead. Under the excuse of peace agreements and lax presence of the authorities, criminals impose their rule by the way of the gun.

And that doesn’t happen on the Tuy Valley alone. This El Nacional report by Javier Mayorca show how other peace zones located in Miranda State towns like Caucagua and Barlovento are now used by gangs involved in kidnappings, robberies and extortion. And looks like the bosses of the Criminal Police are in no hurry to retake those areas.

UPDATE: A new shoot-out took place this afternoon in Ocumare del Tuy, apparently related to the weekend’s incident. National Guards faced members of a gang known as “Los Enanos” in another housing complex (Ciudad Betania II). A grenade went off taking the life of a National Guard officer. Three delinquents were also killed.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.