Venezuela’s repressive socialist government announced a “disarmament campaign” this weekend, urging civilians to surrender their weapons to government officials in what they claim is an attempt at reducing the nation’s astronomical murder rate.
The BBC reports that President Nicolás Maduro announced the investment of $47 million into the creation of “disarmament centers”–government locations at which civilians could hand over their weapons without facing any legal repercussions. The announcement occurred at an event commemorating the International Day of Peace in Caracas.
“Let us chase after the dream, after the utopia, the utopia of a Venezuela in peace,” Maduro said in his remarks, describing the disarmament as part of “the movement of peace and life.” Maduro concluded, “Disarmament must come from the conscience of the youth.”
Among those reacting with support for the disarmament center plan is Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, which also published photos of Maduro playing basketball at the Caracas event this weekend. The Chinese government previously released a condemnation of the United States’ Second Amendment rights as Venezuela announced its gun ban, though reports this year noted that many of the weapons the Venezuelan government has used to oppress opposition rallies originated from China.
“Although news of gun confiscation on a national level will be music to the ears of gun control proponents, the fact remains that real criminals will not be turning in their guns,” explains Breitbart News Second Amendment correspondent Dr. AWR Hawkins. “Thus,” he concludes, “the law-abiding vulnerable will only be more vulnerable after their means of self-defense is gone.”
The news of such disarmament centers may come as a surprise, given that Venezuela does not have any laws supporting the private right to bear arms. Venezuela banned private gun ownership in 2012, ostensibly to fight the surging violence in the nation, but many opponents of Hugo Chávez’s dictatorship noted that disarmament allowed the government to more-efficiently subdue the opposition. The near-immediate social reaction to Venezuela’s gun ban was a spike in the nation’s murder rate, causing the nation to extend the ban in 2013.
Much of Venezuela’s gun violence has no relation to petty crime. This year, particularly, in the aftermath of the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo López for organizing peaceful anti-Maduro rallies, many of Venezuela’s victims of gun violence were peaceful opponents of the socialist regime. Many of these died at the hands of what are known in the nation as motorizados–pro-Chávez motorcycle gangs that terrorize active opposition areas. Violence in western San Cristóbal state, where Maduro has proven least popular, took the lives of countless young protesters, including a 16-year-old boy and a pregnant woman within the same week. Closer to the capital, in the more centrally located Carabobo state, 22-year-old beauty queen Genesis Carmona became the face of the anti-socialist movement in the nation after being shot in the head for opposing the regime during a peaceful demonstration.
By April of this year–two years after Venezuela initially imposed a gun ban–the nation had the second highest murder rate in the world.
In addition to soaring violence and a gradual elimination of many rights inherent to free societies, the government of Venezuela has mismanaged the OPEC nation’s economy to such an extent that basic needs are hard to come by. Scarcity–from water rations to coffin shortages to a severe lack of breast implants–has defined the Venezuelan economy as the nation continues to give away much of its oil resources to ideologically kindred nations like Cuba.