Published On: Thu, Jun 15th, 2017

Venezuela government takes control of police in opposition-governed state

venezuela-policeCARACAS - Venezuela’s interior ministry has seized control of the police force in the opposition-controlled state of Miranda.

The ministry accused Miranda’s police of human rights violations and involvement in criminal networks, according to a BBC News report.

The state, which has been governed by Opposition Leader Henrique Capriles since 2008, has seen some of the biggest protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Capriles, an attorney by profession, said the ministry’s intervention was a political attack on the state.

The 44-year-old said the interior ministry was now in charge of all police activities there.

“It’s clear they’ll try to use the police against the people,” he said, and urged the force to disobey any orders that violated the constitution.

Capriles has kept to the high road during most of his political career, but of late, as once-prosperous Venezuela sinks deeper into poverty, food insecurity, and social and political chaos, he has adopted a more radical stance.

He has accused Maduro and his officials of being “corrupt narcos,” of “overthrowing democracy,” of promoting riots and encouraging looting in his state’s capital, Los Teques.

He has also described Maduro as “abhorred” by Venezuelans for what he described as “paramilitary” assaults on peaceful protesters.

On April 7, the nation’s comptroller general disqualified Capriles from running for any public office until 2032, alleging, without offering proof, that he misused public funds as governor.

Capriles denied the charges, saying furthermore that his disqualification went against laws that say only the Supreme Court can make such a judgment against a sitting governor.

Given widespread discontent with the Maduro regime, Capriles was thought to stand a good chance of beating Maduro, a former bus driver, in next year’s presidential election.

Capriles’ disqualification, combined with public reaction to a brief but ill-advised move by the Supreme Court to shift powers of the National Assembly to Maduro, set off massive protest marches across Venezuela.

Clashes between marchers and government forces using water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets has left at least sixty dead, hundreds injured, and an unknown number arrested.

The government and the opposition continue to blame each other for the deaths and for alleged human rights abuses.

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