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The Myth of Venezuela’s Imminent Civil War

By: Guest Contributor - Jun 16, 2016, 5:24 pm
Venezuela civil war
Venezuelan civil society barely owns guns to defend itself. (Wikimedia)

By Gian De Biase

EspañolEver since Venezuela began making daily headlines about the country’s serious economic and political crisis, speculation has grown surrounding what the final outcome to the conflict might look like.

Leftists around the globe are pushing the idea that the country is approaching civil war, but this Marxist view is a bit too simplistic.

Let’s look at the factors at play in this possible warfare scenario.

Guns and Factions

In Venezuela, there are three major groups that form a firearms oligopoly. The first is the state, made up of the Army, Air Force, Navy and National Guard. This group also includes repressive and coercive institutions like the National, Regional and Municipal Police, well as the country’s intelligence agencies.

The second group is made up by paramilitaries commonly known as “colectivos” or collectives. They were part of Hugo Chávez’s plan to“defend the revolution.”

The third group, but no less important, is made up of the common criminals that are so well organized in Venezuela that they’re call a “pranatocracy” — derived from the name “pran” given to criminal leaders of jail.

In Venezuela, jails are almost always controlled by the criminals themselves and accumulate the largest number of illegal weapons.

There are 7 million illegals weapons in Venezuela according to university professor Victor Aranguren, an alarming number for a country of 30 million people.

But the question remains: how feasible is a civil war in Venezuela? The government is repressive, and doesn’t hesitate to make use of its own weapons. The collectives were created by the government, but aren’t as loyal anymore. This became obvious after Minister of Defense Miguel Rodríguez Torres started fighting the collectives, who ultimately pressured him into resigning.

There is photographic evidence of Minister Iris Varela and former Minister Antonio Álvarez sitting together next to the most renowned pranes of the country at the same time that those pranes were setting up roadblocks in Marite, among other clues.

Civil war is only possible if there is a clash between those who own the guns: the government, the paramilitary, and organized crime.

A spontaneous uprising from Venezuelan society, which in this moment is made up of the hungry and sick, seems unlikely. It would end up being a premeditated massacre for political reasons — a genocide like we’ve never seen in the history of the Americas.

Gian de Biase is a political science major of the Universidad Rafael Urdaneta. He has worked in the Venezuelan Congress as well as a youth political coordinator, as local coordinator for Students for Liberty, and a collaborator of CEDICE Libertad in Maracaibo. He is currently a member of the libertarian movement in Colombia.