Venezuela: Operation Liquidation of the Poor

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Alex Vegas and his family are lifelong residents of El Valle. On March 10 of this year, police forces stormed into Mr. Vegas’ house in search of his 16-year old son, Alex Johan. In Part 2 of the series produced by Valentina Pereda, we follow Mr. Vegas in his search for justice for the murder of his son by members of a special police unit called OLP – Operation Liberation of the People.

OLP was launched in 2015 by President Nicolas Maduro. Its mission: to eradicate alleged criminals that reside in Venezuela’s barrios and “free the people.” Two years into the program have shown that crime rates have actually increased, and at least 500 people have died in the hands of OLP forces, many of them unarmed at the time of their murder. Despite local and international calls by citizens and human rights activists to put an end to the program, the Maduro government has revamped and increased the intensity of OLP operations, responding to criticisms by adding the word “humanist” to the name – Humanist Operation to Liberate the People. Meanwhile, as more families continue to mourn the loss of their sons, little is achieved in their search for justice.

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