Venezuela Death Squads: Maduro’s army killed thousands and covered it up

Venezuela Death Squads: Maduro's army killed thousands and covered it up

Venezuelan special death squads have carried out thousands of extrajudicial killings of political opponents in the past 18 months and then manipulated crime scenes to make it look like the victims were resisting arrest, the UN said in a report detailing the socialist dictatorship abuses.

Special Action Forces described by witnesses as “death squads” killed 5,287 people in 2018 and another 1,569 by mid-May of this year, in what are officially named by the Venezuelan dictatorship “Operations for the Liberation of the People,” UN investigators reported.

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Families of 20 men had described how masked men dressed in black from Venezuela’s Special Action Forces (FAES) had arrived in black utes without license plates. In the accounts, the death squads broke into houses, took belongings and assaulted women and girls, sometimes stripping them naked.

“They would separate young men from other family members before shooting them,” the report said.

“In every case, witnesses reported how FAES manipulated the crime scene and evidence. They would plant arms and drugs and fire their weapons against the walls or in the air to suggest a confrontation and to show the victim had ‘resisted authority’.”

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“There are reasonable grounds to believe that many of these killings constitute extrajudicial executions committed by the security forces,” the investigators said.

The report said the killings were part of a strategy by the government of President Nicolas Maduro aimed at “neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing political opponents and people critical of the government”, which accelerated since 2016.

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