The Ombudsman, Alfredo Ruiz Angulo, reported that a special commission was formed on March 21, made up of the Apure State Defender and six other defenders in charge of handling all complaints about alleged acts of violence that occurred in La Victoria and surrounding areas, says a press release from the institution.
Likewise, the senior official highlighted that “these officials went to the scene of the events to coordinate with the Public Ministry, with the Integral Defense Operational Zone (ZODI) and the Integral Defense Strategic Region (REDI), as well as the the Government and the Mayor's Office ”, and in this way to be able to carry out their investigative work in Apure and attend to any complaint or demand for support from the population of the municipalities affected by the situation of violence and attacks by irregular groups, especially in the sectors close to The victory.
For this reason, he welcomed the creation of the Temporary Integral Defense Operational Zone by the MPPD and the CEOFANB in that strip of Alto Apure to maximize the protection and security measures of the population as well as the territory, now in conflict due to the presence of groups criminal and irregular that seek to intimidate and threaten the peasants and producers that inhabit said town.
Ruiz Angulo stressed that the defenders are interviewing all the families in the area to gather possible complaints about the threats and activities of Colombian criminal groups that operate in La Victoria on the Venezuelan side and in Arauquita in the Colombian sector. For this, "the two municipal Ombudsmen of Páez and Muñoz, as well as the staff of the Ombudsman delegated in Apure are working permanently."
He also specified that "there is a complex situation in the entire area surrounding La Victoria, since most of the complaints received are for violence and extortion" in the sectors near that town. "This forced the residents to leave there and seek temporary shelter in Arauquita, Colombia, where their relatives live."
Regarding the complaints of alleged human rights violations, the investigation is being carried out, as well as being investigated by officials of the Public Ministry, who coordinates this preliminary stage with the CICPC and the Ministry of Popular Power for Internal Relations, Justice and Peace. While the military forces maintain patrolling in the area, as well as scrutinizing to detect and eliminate bombs and antipersonnel mines.
He also stated that there is already a return of some compatriots to the country, since in some areas calm has been restored, despite the presence of mines and homemade bombs in various land routes and fields that could cause injuries to the inhabitants. For this reason, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the UN for the help of experts to expedite the deactivation of these explosive devices.
Finally, he asked the population of Alto Apure to remain calm and also to take biosecurity measures to avoid possible Covid-19 infections, as well as to report any irregularities.