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Published on 22 September 2016 by venezuelanalysis.

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Venezuelan authorities said on Wednesday that they had melted down 17,000 firearms, and would use the scrap metal as material in public housing units.

During a public demonstration in Barquisimeto, Lara state, the thousands of arms were crushed in preparation for being melted down. The firearms included illegal weapons confiscated by police, along with others voluntarily handed over to authorities during government sponsored disarmament drives.

Speaking at the public event, interior minister Nestor Reverol praised gun control as a crucial part of reducing violent crime in Venezuela.

“The Bolivarian Revolution has destroyed more than 423,000 firearms so far. This is a significant figure to show to the world,” he said.

The country has long struggled with one of the world’s highest rates of gun violence.

“On the occasion of this day of peace, we want to show the country … the public act of the destruction of 17,014 firearms,” he said.

According to the interior ministry, scrap metal will be salvaged from the destroyed weapons, before being melted into steel bars for use as construction material in the Great Housing Mission (GMVV).

The GMVV was one of the key projects of the Hugo Chavez presidency, and today provides Venezuelans with low cost public housing. Impoverished families are given preference, and often pay almost nothing for the homes. Government figures suggest 184,000 GMVV units were constructed in 2015 alone, and President Nicolas Maduro has said he hopes to have as much as 40 percent of the population living in the low cost housing by the end of the decade.

Wednesday’s public gun crushing in Lara state coincided with an event inaugurating a monument to peace in Caracas. Shaped like a dove, the Monument to Disarmament itself was constructed with 1.5 tonnes of material salvaged from firearms.

“It consists of 814 parts and pieces of firearms that were once used in crime and violence, and which are now part of a beautiful monument,” Reverol said.

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