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RED VZLA Urgent Request to the OTP-3

REDACTED Page 102 of 190 (6)De facto control of the Presidency over the Pro Government Armed Paramilitaries As described in the background section, Chávez previously promoted the creation of pro government armed paramilitaries supporting the Bolivarian Revolution itself defined by the GoV and the USPV.416 The term colectivo, often used to refer to those groups, include “pro-government community organisations of various kinds, most non- violent, but it has come to be used for armed groups of the revolutionary left that have proliferated under chavista governments”.417 They have also been described as "armed gangs who use violence with impunity" to harass political opponents of the Venezuelan government.418 These groups which were created under the Chávez Presidency were further encouraged under the Maduro regime. Several sources confirm that these pro government armed paramilitaries have received training, money, weapons, vehicles and still regularly receive resources from the GoV.419 Although, they are still not formally part of the GoV, several pro government armed paramilitiaries which have had close ties, since their foundation, with the GoV as recognised by the IACHR,420 still enjoy this privileged relationship. Iris Varela, current Minister for of Prisons and Penological Services and a member of the National 416 For a thorough narrative on the origins of the colectivos and their early relations with the Chávez government, see: INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP. (2011) Latin America Report N°38: Violence and Politics in Venezuela. International Crisis Group. [Online] 17 August. Available from: america/venezuela/38%20Violence%20and%20Politics%20in%20Venezuela.pdf [Accessed 25 October, 2015] Chapter IV 417 INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP. (2014) Venezuela: Dangerous Inertia 418 REYNOLDS, G.T. (2014) Venezuela marcada por la violencia. Voz de América. [Online] 10 October. Available from: oposicion/2499273.html [Accessed 25 October, 2015] 419 See: EL PAIS. (2014) Así operan los 'colectivos', las fuerzas paramilitares chavistas de Venezuela. El País [Online] 23 February. Available from: chavistas-venezuela [Accessed 25 October, 2015]; MADARIAGA, S. (2014) Comando Criminal Sincerniza Ataques de Colectivos: Diosdado Cabello-Freddy Bernal-Eliecer Otaiza. Ahora Visión. 29 March. Available from: sincroniza-ataques-de-colectivos-diosdado-cabello-freddy-bernal-eliecer-otaiza/#.UzcB7GsZjzM.twitter [Accessed 25 October, 2015]; STRATFOR. (2014) Venezuela’s Pro-Government Activists Play a Role in Protest Violence. Stratfor. [Online] 19 February. Available from: violence [Accessed 25 October, 2015]; GURNEY, K. (2014) Venezuela’s Leftist Collectives: Criminals or Revolutionaries? InSight Crime. [Online] 24 November. Available from: [Accessed 25 October, 2015]; MARKOVITS, M. and RUEDA, M. (2013) Venezuela Election is a High Stakes Affair for Local Vigilante Groups. ABC News. [Online] 27 March. Available from: vigilante-groups/story?id=18822407&singlePage=true [Accessed 25 October, 2015] 420 IACHR. (2009) Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela. p.205

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