How bad does the security situation have to be in a country for the cops themselves to go out to protest… because they don’t feel safe on the job?
Bad. Really bad.
In Miranda State and Caracas alone, 45 police officers have been killed in 2015 so far.
Nationwide, according to NGO Due Process Foundation (FUNDEPRO), at least 105 members of the security forces (military or police) have been killed by mid-April. 78 of them were cops.
To be sure, cops getting killed in numbers in Venezuela isn’t quite new, but not at this rate.
This recent dispatch from Spanish press agency EFE focuses not only on the recent casualties, but on the reasons which fueled it: Criminals kill cops not just to grab their weapons, but also for the street cred it brings.
Over the weekend, members of several police forces called up on the social networks for a public protest against the killings and published a written statement under the name “Venezuelan Police Family”.
The protest came and went without incident in the Cota Mil Highway, but only gathered a small group of people (none of them in uniform). Their main demand is for an urgent meeting of all police forces with the central government and with other branches of the State.
Almost at the same time, the newly appointed Interior and Justice Minister Gustavo López González addressed the issue on his twitter account. He called the recent killings “part of a perverse plan” and blamed what he considers as “paramilitarism “, pointing out at Miranda State Government and three of its municipalities (Baruta, Chacao and Sucre a.k.a. Petare), which happen to be governed by the opposition.
López González took office just last month after he was named as one of the seven Venezuelan officials sanctioned by the U.S. government. Previously, he was in charge of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) for more than a year.
Did the protest fail, given the poor turnout? Taking in consideration that it was called only a few hours only on the Internet, taking place a national holiday in a highway closed to all traffic on Sundays, perhaps it tried to be low-key or the modest expectations were just too high. Still, the organizers don’t lose hope that their message will get through. But given the Interior Minister’s response, perhaps the message will get lost even before it reaches the authorities.