Nicolas Maduro has announced the creation of a new police force tasked with “defense of the country against destabilizations plans.”
The new police force will be presided by Major General Hernán Gil Barrios and, according to Maduro, “will be in charge of the complete operational defense of the country and the dismemberment of all the terrorist groups that may disturb peace and security.”
Maduro also warned that these terrorist groups “are sent from Colombia and the United States to sow discord in Venezuelan society.” He also linked Juan Guaido, appointed President by the National Assembly in January last year, to these terrorist groups who have “activated their articulation mechanisms, using US dollars, in order to use organized crime for destruction, from the inside, so they serve as instrument for new guarimbas [street protests] and terrorist violence,” Maduro explained.
Similar security agencies have been created by Maduro before, usually preceding the arrest of opposition activists. For example, in January 8, 2017 the government announced the creation of a new Anti-Coup Command, coordinated by Vice-president Tareck El Aissami. The new force would “take preventive, legal, and corrective measures against coupist sectors,” said Maduro. Two days later El Aissami announced the arrest of Gilbert Caro, opposition National Assembly representative, on charges of planning “terrorist actions in the country.” The Anti-Coup Command was shot lived as it seems not to have generated any formal institutional structure. Since Gilbert Caro’s arrest the Command has not been mentioned again by the government.