VENEZUELA: Socialist ‘Death Squads’ Targeting Opposition Activists
The Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela is stepping up the operations of “death squads” aimed at eliminating all opposition to the socialist regime, El Mundo detailed in a report on Wednesday.
At a military ceremony in 2017, dictator Nicolás Maduro launched a new security unit known as the Special Action Forces (FAES), which he declared would “join the fight against crime, against terrorism and against right-wing terrorist groups.” Since their formation, 641 members of the FAES have begun terrorizing those suspected of vehement opposition of the regime, carrying out thousands of extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses, El Mundo, a Spanish newspaper, revealed.
In her recent report on human rights abuses carried out by the Maduro regime, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet provided detailed evidence of the group’s modus operandi: traveling around in black pickup trucks, dressed in black with balaclavas and carrying long weapons.
“They would also carry long weapons. Families of the victims described FAES breaking into their houses, taking their belongings, and exercising gender-based violence against women and girls, including forced nudity,” the report details. “They would separate young men from other family members before shooting them. According to their relatives, almost all of the victims had one or more shots in the chest.”
The report, largely based on conversations with human rights observers and witness testimony, added that the FAES was responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings since its formation two years ago. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), at least 7,523 died as a result of resistance to authority in 2018 alone.
“Thousands of people, mainly young men, have been killed in alleged confrontations with state forces during the past years,” it read. “There are reasonable grounds to believe that many of these killings constitute extrajudicial executions committed by the security forces, particularly FAES. OHCHR is concerned that the authorities may be using FAES, and possibly other security forces, as part of a policy of social control.”