Wikipedia leaked rumors of a possible coup spread through the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas last week, as citizens woke to find armed soldiers patrolling the streets. The soldiers were sent out to the barrios as part of Operation Liberation and Protection, a 2015 anti-crime initiative.
The soldiers set up check-points in the streets and searched homes that were rumored to have heavy weapons. Soldiers were stationed on rooftops, and many patrolled the streets on foot and motor vehicles. State-operated television stations reported that the military also deployed tanks and helicopters.
Operation Liberation and Protection (OLP) was launched last year after Caracas was realized to be one of the most violent cities in the world. It is feared by expert Jose Gonzalez that the recent military deployment is less about crime prevention and more about political control.
Venezuela’s economy has been on the door of collapse for approximately a year. The impact of the government’s poor choices has hit the citizens in the forms of food shortages and the rationing of utility services. Necessities such as laundry detergent and toilet paper have been rationed, as well as diapers.
“They are here to control us,” said criminologist Luis Izquiel said. “They are here to intimidate.”