It is an idea that no doubt was born in Havana and implemented in Venezuela by Cuba’s puppet dictatorship in Caracas. The “Colectivos” (Collectives), as they are known, are nothing more than armed gangs of thugs sent out to terrorize, attack, and murder peaceful protestors and dissidents. In Cuba they go by a different name, “Rapid Response Brigades,” but their characteristics and purpose are identical: terrorize, attack, and murder peaceful protestors and dissidents.
It’s not a word you’re used to hearing at the OAS: “Colectivos”. But at recent Permanent Councils, Venezuela’s pro-government armed gangs have become an object of heated debate. The shift signals a change in what the international community is now willing to tolerate from the Bolivarian Government.
The word “colectivo” is a catch-all term used —not always precisely— to describe a wide range of grassroots pro-government groups. Some, such as the UBChs (sometimes described as “Revolutionary Battle Units” by state propaganda) and the Frente Francisco de Miranda, are formally part of the ruling party and openly financed by both the public budget and off-budget slush funds. Others, such as the Tupamaros, Frente Alexis Vive and La Piedrita, sometimes pre-date the government, though they actively work together with it. Still, other groups are directly armed and organized by the ruling party and take direct orders from political bosses to terrorize opponents. Opposition talking heads often describe them as paramilitaries when in fact, they should be referred to as para-police, since there is no internal conflict in Venezuela —yet— that would fall under the appropriate definition under international humanitarian law.
Some of these “organizations” amount to little more than armed gangs. They receive commands (both express and implied) from PSUV officials, government higher-ups and at times ministers, the Vice President and the President himself. Several are hechos públicos y comunicacionales, public acts openly aired on national radio and television.
There are hundreds of videos online now showing active collusion between armed civilian gangs and the security forces, working shoulder to shoulder with the police and national guard, often clearly there to do the dirty work that requires some semblance of deniability from the state. These include firing live ammo at civilians, beatings, apprehensions and renditions to the police.
In order for a state to be held responsible for internationally wrongful acts or omissions, two things must happen: That the act or omission is (a) attributable to the State under international law; and (b) that it constitute a breach of an international obligation of the State.
Continue reading HERE.