July 17, 2017
Keymer Ávila | @Keymer_Avila
This July 13, the PLO turned 2 years old. What has this policy left us? How could we evaluate it? What have been your results? Has our security improved ? Are our lives now more protected?
Let’s start with the most basic thing. What are PLOs?
Since they began, no official document has been published clearly defining their objectives, scope and action protocols. So far what exists are multiple declarations and propaganda videos . According to this official discourse, how could the PLO be defined?
The OLPs are, as the first word indicates, operations, procedures carried out by different security forces that act jointly –it is noteworthy that joint actions make it difficult to assign responsibilities later-. Its initial objective was to “liberate” “ areas where elements of criminal groups operate, who were especially dedicated to activities of the Colombian paramilitaries, criminal gangs, hit men, extortion and kidnapping ”. This was the discourse with which the OLP were presented, which varied and was not always consistent.
It should be noted that this type of operation is not new in the country . Professor Tosca Hernández studied this phenomenon some three decades ago from 1958 to 1986. The OLP is, then, the continuity of a repressive logic and praxis of yesteryear, that the current rulers had promised would not be repeated in the country, and that it is possibly manifesting itself in a more lethal and widespread way .
An indication of this can be appreciated when analyzing the available sources, both official criminal records and the majority of unofficial data, which agree on an increasing trend in deaths at the hands of State security forces .
The last two years are emblematic for the abrupt increase in these deaths. In 2015 they increased by 70% compared to the previous year, and in 2016 the increase was 163% compared to 2015 and 344% compared to 2014.
The Public Ministry in its 2015 annual report recorded some 245 people killed within the framework of the OLP during its first five months, these barely represented approximately 14% of the total deaths at the hands of the security forces during that year. The same thing happened in 2016 , when those killed by the OLP barely reached 5%. For this reason, it is important to take into account that more than the OLP as a campaign, it is essential to reveal the impact that a policy of this nature, regardless of its short-term acronyms., has in the daily practice of State security agencies, which turns them into agencies that violate fundamental rights . It can be affirmed that the policy of supporting this type of militarized operations, without legal or institutional controls, had a direct impact on the abrupt increase in deaths at the hands of State security forces throughout the country .
Institutional violence also has a direct impact on social and criminal violence. The abrupt increase in deaths at the hands of State security forces also influences the behavior of homicides; both phenomena have, in Venezuela, a tendency to increase
By concentrating only on the OLP, without seeing the rest of the operations as a whole, we could be inadvertently making invisible the real seriousness of the police and military violence.
Institutional violence also has a direct impact on social and criminal violence. The abrupt increase in deaths at the hands of State security forces also influences the behavior of homicides; Both phenomena have, in Venezuela, a tendency to increase. Thus, for example, in 2015, while deaths at the hands of the police increased by 70%, homicides did so by 20%, the homicide rate per hundred thousand inhabitants growing 9 points, from 49 to 58, the most high so far.
For the following year, deaths at the hands of the police increased by 163%, homicides by 22%. The rate increased 12 points, thus going from a rate of 58 to 71 , the highest in the country’s history, at least in the records of the last 5 decades.
The percentage occupied by deaths in the hands of the State security forces within the total number of general homicides in the country has also been increasing. In 2015 they occupied 10% and in 2016 they grew 12 points to reach 22% .
These operations are ineffective in reducing criminal violence; on the contrary, they contribute to its increase. And this could be observed with the OLP, not only due to the increase in the homicides already described, but also due to the increase in kidnappings, extortion, robberies and thefts; in the same way, armed confrontations with criminal groups continue after the implementation of the OLP . Additionally, as a sign of the difficulty of its sustainability, as time passed, fewer weapons were seized and vehicles were recovered.
What can we conclude from all this? What has the PLO been used for then?
Taking Merton’s categories of overt and latent functions, it could be stated that the overt functions of the PLOs are to “fight crime”, “go against the bad guys”, “defend decent people from the dregs of society”, etc. , and just as the inquisition fought against the devil who is the incarnation of evil itself, the PLO fights against evil in absolute terms, without any kind of limit. The problem lies when those who fight that evil end up doing much more damage than the evil they oppose.
The latent functions are several, among them the following can be highlighted:
- Way to gain legitimacy : in 2015, in the context of an electoral year submerged in crises of various kinds, the apparently simplest path was chosen, taking security as the banner of the electoral campaign and through it trying to show efficiency. How? Following the logic of McDonald’s, confusing quantity with quality. Hence the effort to show large numbers of detainees and ” killed “”, regardless of whether they are really criminals acting in flagrante or not, as well as the proportionality and legality of the actions of the security forces. However, this function was not fulfilled in 2015 because the OLP promoters lost the legislative elections. However, given the difficulty of assuming other crises, such as the economic or political, during 2016 the wild card of insecurity remained the most accessible for the government.
- Political profitability for those who carry out the policy : with the OLPs, the military and police apparatus not only gain war power and dominion in the street, but also position themselves politically within the decision-making spaces , having more and more autonomy, discretion and resources.
- Authoritarian message: there are no limits to the exercise of power by the military and police, force and reason of State prevail. The limits that the laws should impose on police and punitive power are vanishing. Reaching extreme manifestations of power such as having the life and death of people without any consequence.
This repressive and authoritarian political form transcends the “fight against crime” and expands as a generalized management of conflict by power. What happened in various residential areas seems to be already reaching other spaces and social and institutional sectors, the most emblematic case of which is that of the Residences known as “Los Verdes” , the systematic attack against the Public Ministry and the unconstitutional and unconstitutional imposition of the constituent , promoted through threats , could be new expressions of this same rationality.
The problem is not only the OLP, these acronyms are circumstantial and will be different tomorrow. This does not have to do only with the current government, as has been pointed out, these devices are not a novelty, they have nothing to do with either the left or the right, but with a war rationale that is underlying the arbitrary and unlimited exercise of military, police and punitive power of the State, which once it is legitimized it is difficult for it to be reversible and in this scenario we all lose.
Remember the oxymoron of adding an “H” for “humanist” earlier this year. For the creation of labels they are very creative: Operative “Dracula’s bus” , ” Plan Carabobo 2021 “, Operative “Tun Tun” , ” Plan Zamora “… for this reason we must not be distracted by the temporary names that they place on these practices that are applied regularly.
Publicado originalmente en Provea.