By Sheyla Urdaneta
During the first six months of 2020, law enforcement got involved in the deaths of 377 individuals in Zulia state alone, according to the latest report from the Commission for Human Rights of the State of Zulia (Codhez in Spanish).
The capital state, Maracaibo, the second-largest city in Venezuela, recorded 158 deaths involving police, almost 42% of the total. In eigh of the 21 municipalities of Zulia, forces police had been linked in more than ten deaths.
The report was published only days after the Maduro-controlled Attorney General Office admitted the involvement of eight officers from the FAES Special Police in the deaths of two workers from a Zulia state community TV station.
Populous and bordering with Colombia, Zulia was once the top oil-producing region. Now, the state is suffering from political and criminal violence, blackouts are an everyday occurrence, and running water is scarce bordering on inexistent.
The municipality of San Francisco is second in the ranking of police-shootings, with 42 deaths representing 11.14 %.
The organization explains that they obtained the data by monitoring the media in Zulia, where it is evident “that both police violence and the potentially illegal deaths associated with it, tend to increase.”
There has been no death penalty in Venezuela since the 19th Century. Law enforcement usually explains the deaths of the suspects as cases of resistance to the authorities.
Codhez explains that this situation is due to “the failure of the Venezuelan State to respect the basic principles as the rights to life and personal integrity, and the failure to fulfill with two of the highest values, namely life and the pre-eminence of human rights.”
Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.