Chavez successor tells Venezuelans to 'voluntarily disarm'

Following a gun ban in 2012, Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's successor, has called on Venezuelans to voluntarily disarm themselves

by The Commentator on 12 March 2013 21:30

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In a concerning speech delivered yesterday in Caracas, Nicolas Maduro, the successor of and former Vice President to the late Hugo Chavez asked citizens of Venezuela to voluntarily disarm, using the rationale of reducing escalating crime rates in the country.

However, critics have noted that since the 2012 gun ban in Venezuela, violent crime rates in the country have continued to soar. Opposition figures are concerned that the move is Maduro's way of attempting to a create an underarmed state should he seek to illegally cement his control over the people of Venezuela.

A key concern is that Venezuela's murder rate has soared since Chavez took office in 1999, growing from 4,450 murders in 1998 to over 21,000 in 2012. Estimates put the number of legal and illegal firearms in circulation at between nine and 15 million in the country of 29 million people.

In June 2012, Chavez's government banned private gun ownership, meaning only the army police and security groups could procure weapons. It also offered an amnesty allowing people to give up illegal firearms.

Maduro, currently the Acting President of Venezuela said in an address to supporters this week, "Commander Chavez' Revolutionary government invites you to surrender your weapons. Next week we launch a disarmament plan in every neighborhood, in every subdivision, street, and avenue of this Nation. There can be no weapons for robbery... for murder... No. That has to end. Weapons must be [held] by a decent police force such as the Bolivarian National Police... the Armed Forces... the Bolivarian National Guard. I hope you've listened to me."

Critics have questioned Maduro's invocation of Chavez, and his insistence that the Venezuelan police can be described as 'decent' following a spate of attacks and raids on opposition figures, as The Commentator exclusively reported last year.

Since Chavez's death last week, Maduro and his opposition counterpart, Henrique Capriles, have been butting heads over the upcoming elections, with the latter insisting, "Nicolas [Maduro], I'm not going to give you a free pass".

Capriles said, "Nicolas lied to this country for months," Capriles said. "You are exploiting someone who is no longer here because you have nothing else to offer the country ... I don't play with death, I don't play with suffering, like that."

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