Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent soldiers to disarm Caracas police officers this week. Chavez has accused the police of siding with anti-government demonstrators and harassing his supporters in the streets. Chavez has ignored a Supreme Court order to relinquish control of police stations, which he seized in November. Government spokesmen said it was necessary to confiscate police weapons, including machine guns and riot gear, to keep the public safe. Police Chief Henry Vivas said Caracas’ 9,000 officers, armed only with service revolvers, are now “defenseless” against criminals carrying automatic weapons. “Instead of disarming criminals, they disarm the police. It’s outrageous.”