The uniformed men who shot Mr. Moreno were not government security forces, witnesses say. Rather, they were members of armed bands who have become key enforcers for President Nicolás Maduro as he attempts to crush a growing protest movement against his rule.
The groups, called collectives or colectivos in Spanish, originated as pro-government community organizations...
As rising foreign debt and falling world oil prices have depleted the
Venezuelan government’s coffers, it has increasingly turned to
colectivos as enforcers. From labor disputes with unions to student
demonstrations on university campuses, colectivos are appearing almost
anywhere the government sees citizens getting out of line, Venezuelans
Eladio Mata, a hospital union leader, says he was shot last year by
colectivo members when negotiations deadlocked with the University
Hospital of Caracas.