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Latin America

Venezuela death squads have killed 7000 in 18 months - UN

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro takes part in a ceremony at a military base in Caracas Venezuela May 2, 2019.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro takes part in a ceremony at a military base in Caracas Venezuela May 2, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

The UN has released a report claiming that the rule of law in Venezuela has been ‘eroded’ after it found that nearly 7,000 people have been killed in the last 18 months by state forces.

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The report claims that in 2018, the Venezuelan government registered 5,287 killings which they classified as resulting due to ‘resistance to authority’ being shown by those killed.

A further 1,569 killings of this nature were reported from the beginning of this year to May 19th.

FAES – Venezuela’s death squads

According to research by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), these killings, which are named in the report as ‘extrajudicial executions’ were carried out by FAES, a group originally used for combatting drug trafficking and criminal organizations.

Venezuelan people interviewed by the OHCHR refer to FAES as ‘death squads’ and the relatives of 20 young men killed by FAES, all described a similar way in which they operate.

FAES would turn up in black pickup trucks with no license plate or personal ID, whilst also wearing all black and balaclavas over their faces, carrying weapons, breaking into homes, stealing possessions, sexually assaulting girls and planting incriminating evidence like drugs, to justify their killings.

FAES operatives would also fire their guns in the air or against a wall to give the impression that confrontation had occurred, to show that the victim had ‘resisted authority’, before killing them.

The report claims that the killings have been used to instill fear and crush political opposition.

Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for the UN, who presented the report said: “Essential institutions in the rule of law in Venezuela have been eroded.

“Extrajudicial killings should be fully investigated with accountability of perpetrators and guarantees of non-recurrence.”

Political and Economic unrest

The UN’s report comes at a time when Venezuela has an economy in free fall and a political climate that is unheard of.

Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro has had his leadership challenged by the leader of the country’s national assembly, Juan Guaido who sees Maduro’s tenure as president as illegitimate, following a botched election last year which many opposition parties boycotted.

The political uncertainty, along with the dire economic situation in the country has left many people struggling to survive, as reported in today by the UN.

According to the report, healthcare infrastructure is in decline, availability of ‘sufficient quality’ food is scarce, hyperinflation has heavily damaged food production, and diseases usually prevented by vaccines like measles have returned.

Venezuelan officials have criticized the report, with deputy foreign minister

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