Non-state armed actors in Venezuela. A domestic or international problem?

24th Feb 2022

Venezuela has lost sovereignty over part of its territory due to the presence of non-state armed actors who exercise control over the population and establish their political and economic dominance. The composition and origins of these groups are very diverse: they are guerrilla groups from Colombia such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) or former guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); large criminal gangs; drug traffickers and paramilitaries called colectivos or pranes that dominate the penitentiary centers.

The actors are different, but the result they accomplish is similar: they occupy large or small territories, through large organizations or alliances between groups, made up of Venezuelans and foreigners. Although they embody different forms of criminal governance, all of them take advantage of the fragmentation of the national territory and exemplify the consolidation of a diversity of factual powers in the country.

In the second decade of the 21st century, the purposes of this territorial occupation from its domestic purposes to a different international projection. Several factors have influenced these mutations and among them are the destruction of the national economy, the decline in oil revenues, Venezuelan emigration and the internalization of the Venezuelan political conflict.

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