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Venezuela's Río Claro massacre: Paramilitary / FARC like activities in LARA!!!!!

By Daniel Duquenal

12.11.04 - The local news this week was not very pleasant. Barely one hour of San Felipe, in the cool mountains that serve of backdrop to Barquisimeto, we had a peasant massacre. I learned of that because one of my colleagues lives there and the worker at one of her neighbors was one of the victims.

Now what is really striking is that the behavior of the gang that has been terrorizing the area is very much like what we see with the "irregular groups" of Colombia. Except that we are 6 hours drive from the Colombian border.

It all started in the night from Monday to Tuesday. A group of local peasants were preparing their crop produce to bring to the market of Barquisimeto. They had been complaining for quite a while that some armed bands were marauding in the area. That night rumor has that they were planning to take justice in their own hand when the "irregulars" attacked the house, killed 4, injured 3 and took some prisoner.

Next day the National Guard sent 100 rural troops and about 400 other folks to comb the mountains of the Rio Claro area. The commander implies that it would be more likely to be delinquency from the city operating in the area (taking a break from the ferocious city gang infighting?)

Finally some arrests seem to have been made. El Impulso reports that 7 people have been caught, 2 of them less than 18 year old. Still no word about their link with the assailants though significant weaponry (1) was found at their hiding place/home. Locals are starting to talk. They even used the FLB word, Bolivarian Liberation Front, and obscure guerilla group that supports Chavez. Venezuela, the only country where its guerilla supports the central government... Garcia Marquez should have had it that easy...

At any rate, it seems that a group has slowly begun to assert its authority among the locals in a rather distant area. That group, or groups, have naturally started to behave like the diverse irregulars behave in Colombia. They became the local judicial system, tax collector and what not. Now, at least in Colombia these groups have some raison d'être in a now political distant past. But in Venezuela the apparition of such groups can be attributed directly to the derelict central authority which is more worried organizing social programs to get votes, organize marches, flatter El Supremo, than keep order and security in non glamorous rural areas.

Anarchy is starting in Venezuela.

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1- Picture of the weaponry is of course displayed in the other newspaper of Barquisimeto, El Informador, slightly more indulgent towards the government than El Impulso. Caracas reporting on th eother hand was limited to an article Wednesday in EL Universal.



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