In September, the government of President Nicolás Maduro began to install its now-notorious peace zones in the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates in Miranda State, central Venezuela, as part of its “Movement for Peace and Life.” The authorities’ stated aim was to demobilize the criminal groups of the area, incorporating them into society through community work and voluntary disarmament.
Because they're a classic case of the (perhaps) unintended consequences of some intellectual's bright idea. The peace zones are transforming into the equivalent of prisons, where gangs organize the population through terror.The government has since backtracked, trying now to claim that the zones never existed.
“This is getting worse and worse; the methods that the government is using to control the criminals are nothing but a smokescreen, because underneath they’re supporting crime. The peace zones are genuine refuges for wrongdoers, and have only served to increase crime,” says Father Alejandro Moreno, a psychologist with over 30 years experience working in the barrios of Caracas.Another Venezuelan chimes in;
“The government thought by talking of love and peace they were going to pacify the violence? What they did was to create spaces to support more criminals. These peace zones are nothing more than a refuge for criminals without any access to the police,” argues Javier Gorriño, a former official with the now-defunct Technical Judicial Police.Sorta like what happened to Cuba, post-1959;
Both Gorriño and other experts have suggested that the government uses criminal groups to prevent the population from protesting. Jesús Torrealba, secretary of the the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable, argues that “the collectives [pro-government paramilitary groups] support the government when they’re called up, and when they’re off duty, they rob and kill the population with the weapons the government gave them.”One of whose victims was congressman Robert Serra, it seems.