Troops deployed to subdue Venezuela crime
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that his government will dispatch some 3,000 police and army troops throughout the country in a bid to stem spiraling violent crime.
"We have decided to fight with all our heart and soul to create a safer country," said Maduro, announcing the launch of what authorities are calling operation Safe Homeland 2013.
Troops were to fan out across what the government says are the least safe parts of Venezuela, including the Sucre and Baruta neighborhoods of Caracas located in the state of Miranda, where vanquished presidential challenger Henrique Capriles serves as governor.
"I am not a dictator, but I have to protect Venezuela's children," Maduro declared, adding that the troops eventually will be sent to every region of the country.
Also on the list of locales where troops were to be sent first is opposition stronghold state of Lara in the northwest, as well as other regions with a strong anti-socialist leanings, including Zulia in the northwest and Carabobo in the north.
Capriles narrowly lost a vote last month to succeed late president Hugo Chavez, sparking a surge of post-election violence that left nine people dead.
Many Venezuelans remain angry over disputed April 14 elections that erupted in violent protests after Maduro was proclaimed president with an 1.8 percent margin of victory over opposition candidate Capriles.
But in addition to the post-election violence, Venezuela has the highest homicide rate in South America, with 54 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants.
In the first four months of the year alone, there were 3,400 homicides, according to government figures.
A UN report published in September ranked it number six in the world for murders, out of 206 countries surveyed.