Aragua conflict enters new phase (Updated)

San-Vicente6The current battle in Aragua State between the authorities and criminal gangs took a sudden shift for the worse after a massive police and military operation was held yesterday in Barrio San Vicente (located in the capital, Maracay – Venezuela’s fifth-largest city).

In the early hours of Wednesday, almost 2,000 (yes, two *thoursand*) members of several local and national forces made their entrance into the neighborhood. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at the gang: Helicopter, SWAT teams, snipers, armored vehicles, plenty of patrol cars and motorcycles. Even the Navy was involved with three naval units (probably to cover Lake Valencia…?).

After hours of tension and several shootouts, the authorities are calling it a success. According to press reports, three gang members were killed (others report seven and even ten) and a large number of arrests were made (versions go from 200 to 800). The local police station (which was controlled by gang members) was recovered.

With the lack of reliable official information, it’s difficult to fully understand the scope of this operation, but what else can be expected if briefings about police stings come from a statement of the ruling political party instead of the proper State channels.

The place was seen as the most dangerous spot in Aragua and a sanctuary for criminals, but some locals denied this label and complained that police is responsible for the situation. They dared to call San Vicente a “peace zone”.

The authorities are saying this won’t be the only crackdown and they’ll act against those criminal gangs and their possible connections with pranes of the nearby Tocoron Prison (you know, the one with the discotheque). But even so, some of those gangs have supporters: This week, there was a protest in support of “Johan Petrica”, one of the main suspects in the recent wave of events. The people called Petrica “a honorable man” who “…works for the community”.

Is this the beginning of a broad offensive against gangs and pranes or this action will end up as only a PR gesture? With the next few days (or weeks), we”ll find out. Even if the hegemony is doing its job of keeping this well hidden.

UPDATE: Journalist Airam Fernandez (from news website Contrapunto) was today on the official press conference held by General Jesús Suárez Chourio, commander of Aragua State’s Integrated Operative Defense Zone (ZODI), who offered details of yesterday’s operation. Here’s the full report of the conference from Agence France-Press (AFP).

The San Vicente raid involved 1500 agents of multiple police and military forces. The final bodycount is of three delinquents killed (two of them minors), all members of a band named “Tren of Aragua”. Four weapons (including a grenade) and two pieces of drug seized. (That’s it?). Chourio also confirmed that this operation isn’t related at all to the grenade attacks of last week. 835 people were detained in the raid, so far only 16 have been formally charged in court.

25 thoughts on “Aragua conflict enters new phase (Updated)

  1. What an action-packed-blockbuster way to take control of drugs control/distribution in Aragua from the regime. Todos narcos.


  2. You know, for all the defects, and they were many, MANY… under the Fourth Republic you never saw anything like this.

    I mean, this is one of the few completely original developments of the Revolution – having the crime situation come to virtually open warfare.


    • Well, of course the first innovation was the whole “zonas de paz” bullshit, a.k.a “we surrender the state duties on part of the country because fuck it, we dont care”


      • That’s what happens when you give each choro a gun, a cellphone, a bike, and plenty of impunity to buy their support.


  3. Choros are the best tool to dominate and subdue the civilian population in a dictatorship regime, because:

    1) They can’t be linked directly to the regime, unlike the nazi SS or iranian “revolution defense forces”.

    2) Criminals can be coerced to serve the regime by threatening to take out their impunity.

    3) They can be disposed like used condoms or dirty napkins, because no one will cry for rapists or murderers.


    • Are you kidding? With the exception of a few localized hot zones, Mexico (with a homicide rate of 21.5/100,000) is far safer than Venezuela.


  4. These “zonas de paz” thing gives me goosebumps because that’s exactly what one marxist governor (Leonel Brizola) did in Rio de Janeiro in the 80’s, the police was forbidden to enter the dangerous areas, even their helicopters could not fly above them, that allowed crime to organize itself and become a real paramilitary force throughout the years. The city became one of the most dangerous in the world back then. Movies were made. But what not many people know is how all that was only possible because of the “zonas de paz” policy implemented in the 80’s. Naturally, that policy had to reverted during the 90’s, even the army was called in, but of course with an enormous cost to society.


    • Sabes qué? Sería interesante escribir un artículo sobre eso en Wikipedia…para que quede algo en la consciencia histórica.
      Tienes alguna referencia particularmente respetable? (no blogs, sino artículos de prensa o algo así)


        • Thanks. I created and edited sine last year this page
          and the counterpart in German. I didn’t create the one of “crimen en Venezuela” but I will go to it and add a special section to the Zonas de Paz until it grows. Then I will add the information in a couple of other languages. Let’s hope some extra attention comes to this. It would be good to link then Chavista moguls etc to these pages.


      • Veja Magazine, edition 1860, from 05/30/2004, pages 52-54, had an article with the title “As mortes de Brizola”, or “The deaths of Brizola”, translation of an extract into English by myself:

        “The anti-brizolist person feels aggrieved about an indisputable fact: the expansion of the slums, including in the South Zone’s postcard, and the ascension of the drug dealers during Brizola’s government. It’s not about coincidence. Brizolism fed directly on Rio’s pockets of poverty through two policies: to no longer remove slums, and to forbid the police from entering these same slums, on the grounds that the inhabitants suffered a lot with police violence. Thus, the poor slum dwellers stopped being harassed by the police just to suffer under drug dealers’ rule. Without any repression, soon the drug dealers were arming themselves heavily, and the slums became fortresses. Without any threat of the slums being removed, masonry buildings started being constructed, and multiplied. When Brizola became the governor, in 1983, there were 377 slums in Rio de Janeiro, by the end of his first government this number was 520. Brizolism killed urbanism to gain the immediate sympaty of the humble.”

        You can find the full article at this site:

        You must select the year, then the issue’s number, obviously.


        • This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if the whole world is full of idiots or what.

          I mean, I fully agree that in many cases, people have more fear of the police than of the criminals, and that in many poor barrios in cities, thats a really big problem

          Which, naive as I’m, makes me thing that a proper “for the people” goverment would implement several shock programmes to clean up the police forces, get rid of corrupt policeman and abusers, and regain the confidence of the public they SERVE by having high standards of procedure that are followed and monitored.

          And then you see the “solution” and it is “lets just not have police there” and … what? I mean, this is one case in which you have to wonder if it is better that they have a machiavelian plan that justifies this, because that would mean they are assholes but competent (at being assholes). Anybody that proposes that as a solution, sincerely, believing it, should be removed from office and sent to a kindergarden. Not as teacher.


          • Because that’s that populism does, leaving criminals to harrass the people with the excuse that “police was mean with the poor”


          • “Which, naive as I’m, makes me thing that a proper “for the people” goverment would implement several shock programmes to clean up the police forces, get rid of corrupt policeman and abusers, and regain the confidence of the public they SERVE by having high standards of procedure that are followed and monitored.”

            It’s hard to understand this people because we are not insane like them. They don’t want to “solve” anything, but to perpetuate their power, and they think that to achieve that, they must use criminals as their pillar of support. It’s a simple and clever plan, really. Brizola’s pact of non-aggression with criminals helped him a lot, no doubt about that, he was elected later again. And would be reelected another dozens of times more hadn’t he given up on this particular state to try to destroy the whole country. The people in the slums loved him. The ones who didn’t would vote for him anyway, out of fear of retaliation by the drug dealers. You know how the script plays out…

            Our luck was that this level of madness was restricted to only one state of the federation, and the cancer didn’t spread to the whole body. The armed forces were able to reconquer most of the lost territory later, and now the hard-learned policy is the opposite: to never let the police outside these areas. Never! Local authorities are still mentioning Brizolas’ mistakes 30 years later. It will be a trauma we will probably carry with us for a very long time still.


          • It’s easier to abdicate responsibility and say you are giving the area back to the local population to police themselves, then it is to reform a police force.


  5. Well, what can I say? I live and work in Maracay and all this shit is out of control. I’m an English teacher in a language institute and we had to release the students early because of this stuff. San Vicente is one of the worst barrios in the city and a place to be avoided no matter what. Currently I’m living in one of the Misión Vivienda neighborhoods that were taken by these gangs and they were dispersed like two weeks ago by GN. But I don’t feel safe or anything. Those guys are not trustworthy. By the way, I really like the blog. It feels so good reading from people who really know about life in Venezuela. Not like the local media, silenced by these motherfuckers in power. Keep doing this great job!


    • This is most likely some retaliation from drug smuggler aissami towards the gangs ’cause they attacked the wrong person.

      The other case might be that the gangs tried to “show off too much” and they’re being taught who’s the boss.

      And… Seriously? “835 people were detained in the raid, so far only 16 have been formally charged in court.”

      With things like this, it’s clear that chavismo DOES NOT want to remove criminals from the streets.


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