The Guardia del Pueblo, a component of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) created by late President Hugo Chavez, is directly responsible for planning and executing the brutal repression that Nicolas Maduro’s illegitimate regime has unleashed against the Venezuelan people since 4 February.
It does not appear that any army, air force and navy units have been deployed or utilized in the direct repression of civilian protesters since the anti-government demonstrations started a month ago.
Perhaps this perception is inaccurate, but so far I haven’t seen any photos, videos or direct eyewitness accounts that implicate army, air force and navy troops in the repression.
I did post a twittered picture several days ago of a uniformed individual wearing an army shoulder patch at a protest in the interior, but army sources insist that no army units have been deployed.
But Guardia del Pueblo forces appear in every audiovisual record of the daily demonstrations where anti-government protesters have suffered brutal human rights violations including the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians.
The Guardia del Pueblo was created ostensibly to combat crime more effectively in the streets of Venezuela’s largest cities. But in practice, the Guardia del Pueblo always appears to have operated as the regime’s primary instrument of official repression.
The Guardia del Pueblo is, de facto, the Praetorian Guard of the narco-state within a state that I’ve written about back in 2009-10.
The Guardia del Pueblo (easily identified by their red vests) has about 5,000 members nationally under the command of General Sergio Rivero Marcano.
The Guardia del Pueblo maintains its headquarters in Fort Tiuna in Caracas and has “regiments” based in the Capital District and the states of Miranda, Vargas, Carabobo, Nueva Esparta, Lara and Zulia.
The Guardia del Pueblo currently also has forces deployed in Aragua, Tachira and Merida.
Guardia del Pueblo’s commander, General Rivero, is a longtime close associate of former Military Intelligence Directorate (DIM) chief Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios.
The association between Rivero and Carvajal dates since before the notorious 2005 Barrio Kennedy massacre of seven students by DIM agents supported by Policaracas and CICPC officials.
Carvajal reportedly gave the original orders that resulted in the Barrio Kennedy massacre.
Carvajal and Rivero also reportedly were directly involved in obstructing the investigation of the Barrio Kennedy massacre and tampering with the forensic evidence.
All of the DIM, CICPC and Policaracas officials directly involved in the Barrio Kennedy massacre were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. But Carvajal and Rivero escaped unscathed.
Carvajal left his DIM post in 2008 shortly before the US Treasury designated him a FARC narco-collaborator.
General Rivero was named commander of the Guardia del Pueblo in September 2012.
Carvajal for years has operated a crew of rogue officials inside the regime’s security establishment that protects drug traffickers and drug shipments in Venezuelan territory.
Carvajal’s crew also is known to engage in kidnappings, extortion and assassinations.
Carvajal, nicknamed “El Pollo,” served Chavez well over the years, rooting out military dissidents within the armed forces and carrying out special black ops tasks for the late president.
Carvajal is one of the most dangerous criminals in Venezuela, someone genuinely to be feared.
Nowadays Carvajal is very close to National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello, who is one of the chief intellectual authors of the month-long repression of a legitimately enraged people.
Carvajal and Rivero also continue to work together.
Guardia del Pueblo forces have been physically present at every incident where anti-government protesters have been killed since the demonstrations started on 4 February.
The Guardia del Pueblo’s troops also are coordinating their repression strategies and tactics with armed civilian “colectivos” to jointly attack anti-government protesters throughout the country.
Coordination between the Guardia del Pueblo and the “colectivos” is explicitly mandated in the component’s rules of operation since its creation several years ago.
Individual operational descriptions of every area where the Guardia del Pueblo is authorized to act – disarming individuals with unlicensed weapons, alcohol control, criminal investigations, road control, battling micro-drug trafficking, suppressing school violence, identify and criminal spot checks, and vehicle and foot patrol – start with the words “working meetings with organized communities.”
But the “organized communities” that Guardia del Pueblo officials meet with regularly to “coordinate” their nominally official “prevention” activities do not include elected city officials, homeowners associations, business groups and non-governmental associations.
The Guardia del Pueblo does meet with “colectivos” and groups within the Psuv and government entities that are armed and deployed when the regime needs shock troops to intimidate its opponents and silence critics.
As the anti-government demonstrations continue, caution should be exercise wherever Guardia del Pueblo forces arrive because they will, definitely, be accompanied by civilian “colectivo” members and will certainly employ live munitions against unarmed civilians.
The regime’s continued brutal repression of anti-government protestors with Guardia del Pueblo and “colectivo” forces has alarmed and angered the regular armed forces command, according to army contacts.
Regular FANB commanders, even many supposedly committed ideologically to the revolution, are concerned that the Guardia del Pueblo’s attacks against the people threaten increasingly to spark a civil war in Venezuela.