Police killed at least nine people during a raid at the Viasa Tower in central Caracas on Monday, November 12. According to human rights monitors, a unit of the police special operations forces (FAES) raided the former headquarters building of the defunct Viasa airline, now occupied by low-income families, to "search for criminals" and reportedly engaged in a shootout with the suspects. Residents accused security forces of carrying out "extrajudicial killings." A heightened security presence is to be anticipated in the area over the coming days.
The raid and alleged shootout in the city center highlights growing insecurity in Caracas amid a sustained economic and political crisis in Venezuela. Human rights groups report many as 1126 people have been murdered in the Caracas Metropolitan Area from January through September 2018.
According to humanitarian officials, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees have fled the country since the beginning of the year as Venezuela's economy continues to falter, with a large percentage settling in Colombia and Brazil. As of October 2018, the IMF reports the Venezuelan economy is experiencing hyperinflation after five consecutive years of recession. Venezuelans face shortages of gasoline, food, medicine, and other basic necessities, as well as extreme rates of violent crime and social unrest.
Individuals in Caracas are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid police operations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Copyright and Disclaimer