There are actually three different levels of armed forces in Venezuela;
- The official armed forces of the nation
- The National Guard, effectively a national police force
- The National Bolivarian Militia of Venezuela, popularly known as the “Colectivos”
It’s clearly understood that the Cubans are firmly in control of the official armed forces, but there are others on the ground in Venezuela calling the shots. As reported by VOANews.com, there are an estimated 20,000 Cubanos already in-country and essentially running the show;
Communist-run Cuba has been a key backer of the Venezuelan government since the Bolivarian Revolution that began under former leader Hugo Chavez in 1998.
Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions, including the security services.
Less than a year ago, the everything political TheHill.com reported that on the heels of the Venezuelan government ordering the confiscation of all firearms by private citizens in 2012, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has seen the murder rate skyrocket;
In 2012, the communist-dominated Venezuelan National Assembly enacted the “Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law.” The bill’s stated objective was to “disarm all citizens.” The new law prohibited all gun sales, except to government entities. The penalty for illegally selling or carrying a firearm is a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Despite criticism from the democratic opposition, the bill went into effect in 2013.
Ostensibly, the motive for gun prohibition was Venezuela’s out of control violent crime. In 2015, Venezuela’s homicide rate was the world’s highest, with 27,875 Venezuelans murdered that year. More broadly, the Bolivarian Republic is the only South American nation with a homicide rate that has steadily risen since 1995. In the year prior to Maduro’s disarmament initiative, the Venezuelan capital of Caracas had a homicide rate of 122 per 100,000 inhabitants, nearly 20 times the global average of 6.2.
Ouch. “Twenty times the global average”? That’s never a good thing.
Roughly a year-and-a-half back, Fox News noted that nearly a half-million Colectivos were armed by Maduro’s stooges;
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he will expand the number of civilians involved in armed militias, providing guns to as many as 400,000 loyalists.
The Bolivarian militias, currently at approximately 100,000, were created by the late Hugo Chavez to assist the armed forces in the defense of his revolution from external and domestic attacks.
Speaking to thousands of militia members dressed in beige uniforms gathered in front of the presidential palace, Maduro said that vision remains relevant as Venezuela continues to face “imperialist aggression.”
“A gun for every militiaman!” he cried.
However, just two short months ago, the Reuters news service reported that the Colectivos numbers have quadrupled;
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday the country’s civil militia had grown to 1.6 million members – more than tripling in size from the beginning of the year – and that its mission was to defend the country against external aggression.
Maduro’s speech to militia members, broadcast on state television, came less than a week after the socialist leader, without offering evidence, accused the United States of plotting to invade the South American country, which is experiencing a severe economic crisis.
“We will arm the Bolivarian militia to the teeth,” Maduro said, without detailing how many of the militia members were actually armed. “An invading imperialist force may enter a part of our fatherland, but the imperialists should know that they will not leave here alive.”
The National Bolivarian Militia is a reserve force composed of civilian volunteers, founded by former President Hugo Chavez in 2008 to assist the armed forces.