The notion of masked men on no-license-plate motorcycles shooting down hapless citizens to rob them for their loaf of bread, dispersing tear gas and emptying magazines of bullets on crowds of anti-government protesters or lurking at the door with threats against an outspoken journalist has become commonplace in the ever-ravaged country that is Venezuela. These groups are known as the collectives or “collectivos” in Spanish, and function as embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s unofficial – albeit staunchly loyal – to take on the dirty work to extinguish dissent to avoid the optics of the state’s military acting with a heavy hand.


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