In border areas, school dropout is around 80% in Venezuela

The Fundaredes annual report, which will be presented this Monday, denounces that “the recruitment of children and adolescents in educational institutions, to be incorporated into the networks of armed groups, exceeds, until 2019, 30 thousand students. But In 2019 alone, direct or indirect recruitment reaches 15,000 infants and young people« 

The key points They are summarized in: 1) Colombian guerrilla recruits Venezuelan children to enter their ranks. 2) Irregular armed groups exploit Venezuelan children and adolescents on the border. 3) Venezuelan children exposed to the confrontations of irregular armed groups when attending classes in Colombia ”.

How do they seduce children and adolescents? « They offer them school supplies and gifts, including money, to convince them to join their ranks, knowing that parents have fewer and fewer resources to provide their children with adequate food, much less school supplies or toys.« 

Fundaredes adds, “It has been possible to accelerate an ideological process and behavioral conditioning where people, out of fear, become accustomed to living with these criminal organizations, even going so far as to have an association with their illegal activities, thus seeking to mitigate the occurrence of an event that affects them in their entirety, that is, they avoid being victims of these groups as a result of the intimidation reached cognitively by them ”.

The material distributed by the ELN

Through the Amigos de la Escuela foundation The Colombian guerrilla « entered rural educational centers in at least five border municipalities of the Táchira state: Bolívar, Pedro María Ureña, Junín, Capacho Viejo and Rafael Urdaneta. » The report highlights that the intention was to deliver school supplies, gifts and food between September and November 2018. Although the complaint was made before the Public Ministry, there was no action. And that December, the guerrillas « gave gifts to children during the Christmas season. »

Fundaredes highlights that they received more than 30 complaints of rural inhabitants of Táchira, Bolívar, Apure, Zulia and Amazonas states, realizing that during the school break (July and August 2019) “the National Liberation Army (ELN) carried out a census in their homes to specify the number of boys and girls in each community that attend classes, their age range, their level of education and identify their needs with a view to a massive delivery of school supplies ”.

Fundaredes’ conclusion is that « 20,624 students would have been registered by the Colombian guerrillas to receive school supplies and direct influence from this armed group. » The organization found that until 2018 “the Colombian guerrilla ELN and FARC had intervened in at least 214 schools in Táchira, Apure and Amazonas; for the year 2019, the figure exceeds 325 ”.

The most affected Venezuelan states

The serious thing is that despite the public complaints and those filed before the various national and local instances of the Public Ministry, Ombudsman and the Council for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, the authorities have not investigated or taken corrective measures to prevent this from happening. ”

The culture of violence has a diverse origin, as Fundaredes reveals, one of them is the displacement that irregular guerrilla and paramilitary groups have had in recent years.

The most vulnerable

The situation of children and adolescents is made more vulnerable to irregular armed groups on the border with Colombia, due to the complex humanitarian emergency that Venezuela is suffering.

« This situation led to, in many homes, one or both parents will migrate out of Venezuela looking for work and income opportunities to subsist, leaving their children in the hands of grandparents, another relative, or some friendly family in vulnerable conditions, since the irregular armed groups have a policy of attracting new troops for their organizations or simply for carrying out eventual criminal activities. ”

“Children without parents present in the home or even with them present, but under conditions of great economic deprivation, are propitious victims of the seduction of these groups that initially hire them to do work at border crossings, assign them tasks in criminal actions –

In the face of serious failures in education, on the Venezuelan side, many border children study in Colombian educational institutes “having to transit from one country to another daily, facilitating the use of illegal armed groups as actors of the illegal, and even becoming in latent victims before the danger that runs their security and integrity every time they cross the border lines, often by irregular steps (trails), before the closing of the official steps ”.

The quality of education has been affected by several causes, one of them « the decrease in the academic load and the content of the basic subjects in the training of students and the incorporation of Marxist ideological training », which according to Fundaredes is a « Fertile scene for the performance of irregular armed groups that have disrupted the social dynamics on the border and that seek to ideologize the population to facilitate their growth »,

They are the authority

We must add « the elimination of support programs, such as school meals to meet the protein needs of students, the provision of laboratories to carry out practices in subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry, and the lack and non-existence of teaching materials and sports equipment« 

It cannot be dismissed, as relevant, “the null action of the Venezuelan State to preserve school facilities, which has allowed irregular armed groups to use them and serve as a seat to control their illegal activities, and the establishment of a visual reference that penetrates the consciousness of the inhabitants of the area of ​​influence of the educational facility, who see these irregular groups as authorities who must be obeyed. ”

Fundaredes mentions the use of foundations made up of guerrilla agents, which is allowed by the Venezuelan State. The guerrillas use them for « propaganda activities, seduction of young people and recruiting followers. »

The armed groups calling themselves collectives have proliferated. Fundaredes mentions them as a new form of violence and intimidation to the population that sees their right to life, free transit and freedom of expression violated: People’s Collective, Ezequiel Zamora Collective, Che Guevara Collective, Aragua Train, Border Security Collective, Francisco de Miranda Collective, Tupamaros, Communist Collective, Lina Ron Collective and Camilo Torres Collective ”.

It highlights that these groups “have mobilized towards the border with Colombia, since they initially operated in the Venezuelan capital, but little by little they expanded their presence to other entities in the country until they reached the metropolitan area of ​​the capital of Táchira and more recently ventured into the Bolívar and Pedro María Ureña municipalities ”.

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