Crime in Venezuela

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Murder rate (1 murder per 100,000 citizens) from 1998 to 2013. Source: Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia

Venezuela is among the most violent places on Earth. In Venezuela, a person is murdered every 21 minutes.[1] Crimes have been so prevalent in Venezuela that the government no longer produces crime data.[2] Class tension has long been a part of life in the South American country, where armed robberies, carjackings and kidnappings are frequent. In 2013, the homicide rate was approximately 79 per 100,000, one of the world’s highest, having quadrupled in the past 15 years with over 200,000 murdered.[3] The capital Caracas has one of the greatest homicide rates of any large city in the world, with 122 homicides per 100,000 residents.[4] In 2008, polls indicated that crime was the number one concern of voters.[5]

Crime rates are higher in 'barrios' or 'ranchos' (slum areas) after dark. Petty crime such as pick-pocketing is prevalent, particularly on public transport in Caracas. The government in 2009 created a security force, the Bolivarian National Police, which Hugo Chavez said it "has succeeded in reducing homicides in at least one violent area of Caracas", and also created a new Experimental Security University. However, human rights groups still say the effort by the government is too "timid".[6]

Drug trade[edit]

Venezuela is a significant route for drug trafficking, with Colombian cocaine and other drugs transiting Venezuela towards the United States and Europe. Venezuela ranks fourth in the world for cocaine seizures, behind Colombia, the United States, and Panama.[7]

Senior Venezuelan government officials have been known to associate with the narcotic terrorist organization FARC and "armed, abetted, and funded the FARC, even as it terrorized and kidnapped innocents".[8] In 2007, authorities in Colombia claimed that through laptops they had seized, they found that Hugo Chávez allegedly made payments of as much as $300 million USD to the FARC.[9]

There have been several incidents involving drugs being trafficked from Venezuela with supposed aid from corrupt officials. In September 2013, an incident involving men from the Venezuelan National Guard placing 31 suitcases containing 1.3 tons of cocaine on a Paris flight astonished French authorities.[10] According to former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Eladio Aponte, he was forced to acquit an army commander who had connections with a 2 metric ton shipment of cocaine. Aponte also claimed that Henry Rangel, former defense minister of Venezuela and General Clíver Alcalá Cordones were both involved with the drug trade in Venezuela.[10] Venezuelan officials have also been allegedly working with Mexican drug cartels.[10]

Murder rate[edit]

In Venezuela, a person is murdered every 21 minutes.[11] In 2013, the homicide rate was approximately 79 per 100,000, one of the world’s highest, having quadrupled in the past 15 years with over 200,000 murdered.[12] The country's body count of the previous decade mimics that of the Iraq War and in some instances had more civilian deaths even though the country is at peacetime.[13] The capital Caracas has one of the greatest homicide rates of any large city in the world, with 122 homicides per 100,000 residents.[14]

Corruption[edit]

Corruption in Venezuela is high by world standards, and was so for much of the 20th century. The discovery of oil had worsened political corruption,[15] and by the late 1970s, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso's description of oil as "the Devil's excrement" had become a common expression in Venezuela.[16] Venezuela has been ranked one of the most corrupt countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index since the survey started in 1995. The 2010 ranking placed Venezuela at number 164, out of 178 ranked countries.[17]

According to some sources Venezuela's corruption includes widespread corruption in the police force.[18] Many victims are afraid to report crimes to the police because many officers are involved with criminals and may bring even more harm to the victims.[19] Human Rights Watch claims that the "police commit one of every five crimes" and that thousands of people have been killed by police officers acting with impunity (only 3% of officers have been charged in cases against them).[20] The Metropolitan Police force in Caracas was so corrupt that it was disbanded and were even accused of assisting some of the 17,000 kidnappings.[21] Medium says that the Venezuelan police are "seen as brutal and corrupt more likely to rob you than help".[22]

Foreign Visitors[edit]

Venezuela is especially dangerous toward foreign travelers and investors who are visiting. This is due to Venezuela's economic problems. The United States State Department and Government of Canada has warned foreign visitors that they may be subjected to robbery, kidnapping for a ransom or sale to terrorist organizations and murder, and that their own diplomatic travelers are required to travel in armored vehicles.[23][24] The United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all travel to Venezuela.[25] Most visitors have been murdered during robberies and criminals do not discriminate against their victims. Recently, former Miss Venezuela 2004 winner Monica Spear and her husband were murdered with her 5 year old daughter being shot while visiting, and an elderly German tourist was murdered only a few weeks later. [26] [27]

See also[edit]

General:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Castillo, Mariano (9 January 2014). "Beauty queen's killers nabbed, Venezuela says". CNN. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Gallegos, Raul (10 January 2014). "Miss Venezuela's Murder Is the Price of Politics". Bloomberg. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Rueda, Manuel. "How Did Venezuela Become So Violent?". Fusion. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Venezuela Country Specific Information". United States Department of State. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Crime threatens Chavez vote in Venezuela slums | Reuters". Uk.reuters.com. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Romero, Simon (22 August 2010). "Venezuela, More Deadly Than Iraq, Wonders Why". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  7. ^ United Nations, World Drug Report 2010 Statistical Annex: Drug seizures
  8. ^ "Treasury Targets Venezuelan Government Officials Supporting the FARC". Press Release. United States Department of Treasury. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Padgett, Tim (3 September 2008). "Chávez and the Cash-Filled Suitcase". TIME. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Meza, Alfredo (26 September 2013). "Corrupt military officials helping Venezuela drug trade flourish". El Pais. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Castillo, Mariano (9 January 2014). "Beauty queen's killers nabbed, Venezuela says". CNN. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Rueda, Manuel. "How Did Venezuela Become So Violent?". Fusion. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Romero, Simon (22 August 2010). "Venezuela, More Deadly Than Iraq, Wonders Why". New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Venezuela Country Specific Information". United States Department of State. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  15. ^ From 1917, "greater awareness of the country's oil potential had the pernicious effect of increasing the corruption and intrigue amongst Gomez's family and entourage, the consequences of which would be felt up to 1935 – B. S. McBeth (2002), Juan Vicente Gómez and the Oil Companies in Venezuela, 1908–1935, Cambridge University Press, p17.
  16. ^ "The perception of petroleum as the cause of Venezuela's corruption had become widespread during this period." – Coronil, F. (1988), The magical state: nature, money, and modernity in Venezuela, p353
  17. ^ El Universal, 21 January 2011, The truth of Pdval
  18. ^ Reel, M. "Crime Brings Venezuelans Into Streets". Washington Post (10 May 2006), p. A17. Accessed 24 June 2006.
  19. ^ Wills, Santiago (10 July 2013). "The World Is Getting More Corrupt, and These Are the 5 Worst Offenders". Fusion. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "World Report 2012: Venezuela". Report. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Venezuela: Police corruption blamed for kidnapping epidemic". The Scotsman. 30 May 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  22. ^ Beckhusen, Robert (20 February 2014). "Pro-Government Motorcycle Militias Terrorize Venezuela". Medium. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  23. ^ "Venezuela Travel Warning". United States Department of State. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "Venezuela". Government of Canada. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  25. ^ "FCO travel advice mapped: the world according to Britain's diplomats". The Guardian. 
  26. ^ "Venezuelan soap star Monica Spear, ex-husband murdered". NBC News. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "German tourist, 76, shot dead on Venezuelan island". Reuters. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014.