For years, groups of plain clothes regime agents have been easy to spot at opposition process, if you know where to look. Their role? To infiltrate opposition demonstrations, try to turn them violent, and pass intelligence off to the Interior Minister.

La Red is more like a system of informants structured and organized by Consejos Comunales at the local level: they’re about infiltration, first and foremost.

That’s what an explosive new story by El Nacional’s Hernán Lugo Galicia says. The Network (“La Red”), as the system is dubbed, plays a central role in dissolving concentrations and in occasionally attacking protesters with rocks, bottles and even fire guns. All of it under the police and military’s noses.

According to Lugo Galicia, The Network acts independently from Colectivos, the paramilitaries-on-motorbikes whose main job is intimidation. La Red is more like a system of informants structured and organized by Consejos Comunales at the local level: they’re about infiltration, first and foremost.

After identifying a promising protest focus and sending their agents, PNB and GNB officials contact “Network”, presumably under the authority of the Interior Minister, Nestor Reverol. Once deployed, Lugo Galicia reports, the plain clothes agents do what they can to push protesters towards violence.

Lugo Galicia may be overstating how wide The Network really is, and how organized. Our sense is that these are more a series of ad hoc arrangements by the police in each area than a single, cohesive national “network.”

Still, those groups are out there, and it makes sense that they should be.  

I’ve seen these kinds of group at work, and so has anyone who has participated in any protest these last three or four years.

The government knows that instigating small acts of violence is the quickest way to break up a march: all but the most hot-headed opposition activists get freaked out and go home when violence picks up, draining the protest of effectiveness and giving the authorities the justification they need for violent repression. In the fevered atmosphere of an opposition demo these days, it doesn’t take much to kick things off.

I’ve seen these kinds of group at work, and so has anyone who has participated in any protest these last three or four years. In Merida, they usually appear a few minutes after police forces show up, often throwing rocks and bottles at the protesters. One time however, they chased a group of students inside ULA’s med school and eventually ended up firing one of the campus buildings, all this under the State Police’s obliging sight.

At the same time, Network agents collect information about the movement of most opposition leaders around the country and send it back it to the Respuesta de Movilización Inmediata (REMI) a Social Intelligence system with direct communication to Miraflores and the PSUV situation room.

A different organization with overlapping goals, the Popular System for Protection and Peace (SP3 for its Spanish acronym) was also created by the Defense Minister to keep an eye on any situation that could potentially threaten the revolution. SP3 is more about monitoring than instigation, though.

The government sees clearly that a non-violent protest movement could badly destabilize it, while a violent protest movement will be easy to deal with.

It’s the groups that report to Reverol that are the real threat. In Caracas, some of these “pro-government para-police groups,” as lawmaker Dinorah Figuera calls them, are allegedly paid out of Caracas’ Libertador Municipality’s payroll, under the leadership of Mayor Jorge Rodríguez. Reports suggest they may have been involved in the assault on congress of October 23rd, 2016, and also in the attack on several lawmakers that marched to the General Attorney’s Office on Friday, March 31st this year to ask for the TSJ judges involved in last week’s controversial decisions to be fired.

The government sees clearly (more clearly than some in the opposition, sadly) that a non-violent protest movement could badly destabilize it, while a violent protest movement will be easy to deal with. Violent protests scare off the kinds of moderate, middle-of-the-road pro-democracy voices that the opposition absolutely needs to mobilize. Violence solidifies the state security forces’ cohesion, stabilizes the chain of command, and motivates agents in defense of the revolution.

The regime needs protests to be violent.

And so it has a plan to make protests violent. Obviously.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Relying on the protests to become violent could also backfire badly. Once things get bad enough there are no more moderates, and if you whip a mob of a million people into a frenzy, well … you get a situation where Robenspierre would be considered a moderate.

    Not that they wouldn’t deserve it.

    • When the protests become violent, then chavismo would have pretty much lost, as they won’t be able to force MUD’s leadership to kill the movement as they did with La Salida in 2014, simply because “those crazies protesting aren’t under MUD’s control”.

  2. This is where Leadership has to step in. Keep up the pressure with bigger protests everywhere, but keep them peaceful, as Lilian Tintori and many others continue to do.

    BTW, It’s Robespierre, Mr. TV: Maximilien Robespierre.

    Sadly, Venezuela is no French Revolution. They are in deeeeeeep ship for a looooong time.

    • “They are in deeeeeeep ship for a looooong time.”

      Unless they get organized to kick the garbage out of power.

      As long as people insists into “never doing anything about it”, the regime will stand.

  3. Please tell me that the Opposition has not just now figured this out. This has been obvious since the 2014 protests turned into a “guarimbazo”. The Opposition has had nearly three years to develop counters to this strategy. I just cannot believe that the Opposition would be sufficiently inept for this to be an epiphany for them.

  4. Just last week a long article appeared in the lonely government-critical Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta about how the Russian regime is infiltrating the Russian opposition. They even showed pictures with names. Our leaders should constantly talk about this

    • Agree! This, the use of media propaganda mills, targeted trolling, and many other tools of subversion should be a constant topic of conversation. We need to hammer that this is happening in the consciousnesses of everyone.

  5. I’m with that NY Post editorial that said that Venezuela has passed a point of no return and one of two outcomes are possible: widepread anarchy or a civil war. What seems to be the same vision the US South Command has, which has warned recently that ‘intervention’ may be needed, as the Venezuelan crisis can destabilize the whole region. We can only hope now that either the civil war or the widespread chaos last only a few days.

    We have Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Colombia openly saying that Venezuela is a dictatorship. These countries’ officials are probably meeting daily with their US counterparts to organize what will be done when the time comes.

    These protests becoming violent (even more?) can only anticipate this ‘reaction’, thus if I were in the Venezuelan government, I would be praying to God to make these protests peaceful. Maduro and Cabello can be sure that they won’t be allowed to play Syria in the US doorstep.

    • “…one of two outcomes is possible: widespread anarchy or a civil war.”
      Really, at this point of Venezuela’s history anarchy and civil war are the two sides of one coin. The name of the coin is Mob Rule. Violence can only increase the suffering of [out-gunned] Venezolanos and push closer to civil war.

  6. No, el régimen no necesita protestas como “excusa para ponerse violento”

    El régimen lo que necesita es que LA GENTE SIGA SIN DEFENDERSE Y SE SIGA MONTANDO LA PATA ENCIMA, QUE NO RESPONDA A NADA DE LO QUE HAGA EL RÉGIMEN, CARAJO.

    Los colectivos y los malandros disfrazados sólo actúan porque atacan a gente desarmada, métanse esa vaina en la cabeza, la gente tiene derecho a DEFENDER SU PROPIA VIDA.

    ///

    No, the regime doesn’t need protests as “excuse to become violent”

    What the regime needs is that PEOPLE KEEPS NOT DEFENDING THEMSELVES AND ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE STEPPED ON, THAT THEY NEVER RESPOND TO ANYTHING THE REGIME DOES, DAMNIT.

    The colectivos and disguised criminals only act because they’re against unarmed people, stick that in yout heads, people has the right to DEFEND THEIR OWN LIVES.

  7. I don’t think the opposition crowds need much infiltration to turn violent at this point, the 2014 guarimba showed that a lot of people is very angry and will do stupid things.

    Even as it is easy for the regime to use as propaganda, the goverment should fear violent protest more than peaceful ones, violence can get out of hand and turn into chaos (like ciudad bolivar), during chaos it is likelier than something unexpected happen, like a renegade general seizing power to “restore order” or foreign intervention (with Trump you never know)..

    Another point is that images of protesters fearlessly hammering a water cannon truck or people valiantly taking a rifle from a gnb, are far more powerful than the umpteenth people filled highway picture. The only way a peaceful march could concern the regime is that the ENTIRE country participates, something like 5 million people, not just the usual half million, the regime simply do not care about harmless protest while they are confortably holding all the guns.

    • “violence can get out of hand and turn into chaos (like ciudad bolivar)”

      It didn’t go out of control, the violence in Ciudad Bolívar was planned and carried out by the PGV pranes that used the opportunity to get a payback against those who didn’t pay their extortions, and also as a threat against maduro for daring to take out the 100 Bs bills.

      “the goverment should fear violent protest more than peaceful ones,”

      Because chavismo, as many dictatorships, rules through fear.

      ” the regime simply do not care about harmless protest while they are confortably holding all the guns.”

      They might not have all the guns, but what the regime wants is to keep people on the “peaceful, electoral way” FOREVER.

  8. Hey, did someone think that chavismo “needed an excuse” for this?

    Tossing tear gas bombs from helicopters:

    https://www.lapatilla.com/site/2017/04/10/represores-lanzan-lacrimogenas-desde-el-helicoptero-video/

    Snipers in the prison ministery:

    https://www.lapatilla.com/site/2017/04/10/capriles-denuncia-presencia-de-francotirador-desde-el-ministerio-de-asuntos-penitenciarios-en-el-rosal-foto/

    But come on, it’s the people “provoking chavismo” there, sure…

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