Venezuela announces police 'purge'

Oct 29, 2014, 2:41 AM EDT
Cuban President Raul Castro (2nd L) talks as Nicolas Maduro (R), President of Venezuela listens, during the inauguration of an extraordinary summit of the ALBA (The Bolivarian Alliance for the People of our America) dedicated to the control and prevention of Ebola in the region October 20, 2014. in Havana, Cuba.
AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he will "purge" the police force after alleging officers were involved in the murder of lawmaker Robert Serra. The BBC reports:

The president said police officers had taken part in the murder of governing party lawmaker Robert Serra this month.

Mr Maduro said he would name a presidential commission to "revolutionise the police" and "fix everything that's wrong" with it.

Mr Serra was found stabbed to death at his home in Caracas on 1 October. His partner, Maria Herrera, was also killed.

A rising star in the ruling PSUV party, Mr Serra, 27, was known for delivering impassioned speeches in favour of the government.

"Let's dig deep to build the kind of police force that our fatherland really deserves. We need a revolution of the police force here in Venezuela, and I will carry it out without delay, without excuses," he said during a news conference on Monday.

Mr Maduro said on Tuesday he would announce the members of a presidential commission aimed at transforming the police force. The socialist leader said that, as part of the investigation into Mr Serra's murder, it had come to light that "small groups of officers" were in the pay of criminals.

He said that one group from the Caracas force had been detained which "had put itself at the service of Colombian paramilitary mafias to kill this leader of the Venezuelan youth". He accused the officers of "betraying their oath".

Meanwhile, Venezuela is suffering from severe economic problems. Forbes reports:

In a recent article for the World Politics Review, Paul Shortell, a Latin America analyst from the Inter-American Dialogue explained, “With crude oil prices down 25 percent since June and holding at roughly $86 a barrel on Tuesday, Venezuela is getting nervous.

Lower prices will put greater strain on Venezuela’s oil-reliant economy as its government struggles with growing macroeconomic imbalances.” Oil accounts for 95 percent of Venezuela’s exports and nearly half of the government’s revenue.

The problem for Venezuela is that the distortionary exchange rate policies implemented by Hugo Chavez are causing huge problems for producers in Venezuela. In September Clorox shuttered its operations in Venezuela.

Delta and American airlines have reduced their flights to Venezuela. Rather than address any of the underlying issues the country’s government has focused on attacking its critics (both figuratively and literally). Bottlenecks continue restrict trade, encumber business activity and further reduce government revenue.