A rare moment of admission

How often does a State-owned newspaper put crime on its front page (except to blame the opposition)?!

It’s been easy to forget these last few days that all the “normal” problems of the country are still there just the same. Last week, for instance, Interior Minister Néstor Reverol kindly informed us that 16,000 murders took place in Venezuela last year, 12% more than the official number for 2011.

Nicolás Maduro acknowledged the problem during the presentation of his annual report to the National Assembly.

However, he continued to put the blame on  “the rotten values of capitalism,” and proceeded to chastise media outlets over its “irresponsible coverage” of the issue.

Regardless of the spin they give to the news, the government is slowly taking notice that crime can’t be just dismissed as a “sensation”. This also indicates its latest plan to fight crime (Gran Misión a Toda Vida Venezuela) didn’t have the expected results.

Still, the announcement calls into question the numbers’ veracity. After all, the State stopped releasing official data on the subject almost a decade ago (with some rare exceptions), and the role has been somewhat filled by independent NGOs, like the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV).

Some of these organizations have denounced that the official data is still incomplete, as gang-related violence and shootings by police are simply left out.

2013 has not started well, according to CICPC’s latest internal report leaked by newspaper El Universal: 2.576 homicides nationwide during the first two months, only 1% less when compared to last year. Violence is making headway all around the country, from our small towns to the capital city of Caracas, which had the most violent February in four years. And the numbers from the first days of March are not much better.

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  1. First there needs to be root and branch reform of the sueldo-minimos. Make the police force a respected entity with good pay and career prospects; in tandem with severe punishment for corruption. Make the prisons prisons again, by bloody and brutal force if necessary. In Rio and Sao Paolo police kill over a thousand gang members (mostly) a year. It’s tough but doing nothing just makes the problem fester as Venezuela is finding out.

  2. This announcement is significant in that it shows Maduro’s desire to break away from the typical Chavez concerns and create a reputation for himself by addressing a problem that people really care about and which Chavez largely ignored . He is going to have to fight more to get the popular support that Chavez got free from the use of his charisma and communicational skills. The problem of crime is not simply one of better organized more energetic crime enforcement or of a judiciary that works to punish them effectively but has its roots in the deepening degradation of the social fabric among the very pooor , the single mother not really up to the task of taking care of her brood materially or emotionally , the macho culture of irresponsable padrotes who abandon their women soon after they become pregnant or later abandon their children when they change mates , Once again I wish someone read father Alejandro’s Moreno studies on the subject . The swipe at capitalism ignores the fact that among imprisoned professional criminals Chavez eletoral support was greater than what he got in the general population . Political Ideology does not change people’s character nor improve their behaviour . Ideology in Venezuela for the very uneducated is just a lot of histrionic play acting that gives them a sense of being noble good great strong and passionately heroic .

  3. “the rotten values of capitalism,” or rather, the all-encompassing greed that becomes the norm as Venezuela becomes more “Social-lista”. A greed without limits and rules. Greedier and more in your face than anything you could see of Americans, Europeans, or others. Greedy as in black-market greedy. Greedy to the point of arranging contract killings on people and of stealing from people right on their faces.

    Anyhow, my advice to anyone thinking of going to Venezuela after Chavez passed away or lost power went like this: “See, the thousands of armed robbers and murderers are not going to have a heart attack and fall down dead the moment Hugo dies or chavismo loses power. They will be there looking for victims, business as before.”

  4. Murder rates like Venezuelas have nothing to do with Capitalism or Socialism, they have to do with a general feeling of lawlessness, social decay, and breakdown of traditional values and institutions.

    There needs to be a total war on crime, with the military heavily involved and patrolling the streets. The problem is, I don’t think Maduro or anyone else would risk it; they probably know the criminal culture is so pervavise among some of their hardcore supporters that any incursion would involve infighting and internal disputes. The only person who had the authority to do something like that with any chance of success would be Chavez, and he didn’t seem interested.

  5. First of all there where social programs before Chavez. “fundación del niño”, “museo del niño”, “el vaso de leche”, etc etc even “el sistema” which he was about to delete too, when he saw the potential. Fe y Alegría schools helped the poor children get a good education. There were other education programs in Miranda thatbwere a model to be continued.
    Sorry…but I do not believe Chavez really and truly cared for the poor. i believe he used them as a populist, for consolidating his power. He understood the poor, because he was one. I’m convinced that if he really cared fo them, they wouldn’t have to stand in the rain for hours to get on a camionetica, fight for their lives to get on the deteriorated matro, get killed by droves in the barrios. I saw what a leader that cares for his people does for them. i saw it in two communist/socialist countries: i saw it in Vietnam, I saw it in Singapore. The standard of living for everybody is the same. Everybody is taken into account. They make the citizens responsible for their well being. So it’s a two way street. My vietnamese guide explained how they got away from the russian/cuban model when the gvment realized everybody became lazier by the tabula rasa system. The citizens collaborate with the rules and regulations, and the government takes care of it’s citizens. No handouts! What i try to understand is that even though we have now a country of populist gimme gimme gimmes, is the bequita or the washing machine enough to blind the masses so effectively to the fact that we have been been colonized by the Castro’s? Maduro IMO is just like losmzapatos de Manacho… De cartón.

    • Lavici: without dissenting on anything else you write I do feel he cared about the poor in the sense that as a narcicist of the first order he needed their adoration in order to feel great about himself , also in the sense that such profession of love for the poor made him feel saintly and noble which also gratified his narcicism . By loving the poor he was actually loving himself!! Not that he was ever aware of how subliminally his exhuberant love of the poor actually worked!

      • Well Bill of course, i also think that he didn’t care for them in the sense of the word, he only reveled in their adoration, to feed his ego. In some ways he behaved like a pederast giving them “candy” to use the hold he had on them to perpetuate himself. What I’ve noticed these days is how clueless is most of the international,press even when they think they are being objective. The always state “he cared for the poor” and it’s sooo not true!
        I was telling a person that lives in Petare, how they don’t let a guy into Singapore with hair longer than his shirt collar, or to chew gum, or the fines for not flushing toilets. Also how the gvmnt sends a citizen a free bus tkt if the said bus arrives more than 3 minutes late. He answered ” i wouldn’t mind not chewing gum, or having my hair cut, if I could get home safely “

    • .I agree with you, lavici. Chávez SAID HE CARED about the poor. He showed us HOW MUCH AFFECTION he had for the poor, who naturally responded in kind, and made GREAT PHOTO-OPPS. But deep down, he was burning to avoid any whiff from the stamp of poverty. The poor were there to SERVE HIM POLITICALLY, to help consolidate his power base. That’s all Chávez cared about. En el fondo. So he gave out a few trinkets here and there. He established band-aid dispensing Barrios Adentros, at the expense of institutions with a greater capacity to serve medical needs. He deliverd very poorly constructed housing in nowhere near the numbers promised. He ensured little infrastructure over the course of his 14 years. And outside the BS claim of having eradicated illiteracy through the Misión Robertson, he never was interested in ensuring a better quality of education, overall, for the poor.

      We’ve just seen the culmination of all his so-called caring in these last few days, first, with a phony casket to make the pueblo believe it was him (#AnotherLie), second, by not acting in good faith to provide basic, decent facilities for that same pueblo who had come to pay their respects.

      These ‘chavista’ officials and those who help to propagandize their political aims for power retention are the greatest hypocrites I have ever had the misfortune to hear or read about.

      • Syd I couldn’t agree with more… You have written exactly my feelings! I am absolutely incensed! And frustrated as I can’t do anything about it except rant here.

  6. In fact i’m just reading the veredict of Criminal Justice International which calculates Chavez’s personal wealth in 2 billion dollars, AND the cuban handouts in 5 BILLION A YEAR! Can you imagine what Venezuela could have done with all that money? From a president who really cared for the poor? Maybe the poor cubans. Selling his people for a jurassic ankylosing ideaology >:(
    Me va a dar un infarto de la frustración! So I’m just wishing the trolls don’t come out to play..

  7. billl bass: The problem of crime is not simply one of better organized more energetic crime enforcement or of a judiciary that works to punish them effectively but has its roots in the deepening degradation of the social fabric among the very pooor

    In the long term this is true… but did these conditions get 5x worse in the last 14 years? Nearly all criminals are adults or teenagers, who were born before Chavez came to power, and whose family situations were already established (or changing predictably).

    The explosive growth of crime in Venezuela under Chavez can be most immediately traced to the neglect of the infrastructure of law enforcement. When there is very little chance of being caught or punished for a crime, the criminal-minded commit more crimes. This can be a positive feedback circle: Law enforcement was already overloaded, so the increase in crime reduced the chance of getting caught even further, making crime more attractive.

    This is something that scares me personally, as here in Chicago we are approaching such an overload condition. Already over 3/4 of homicides in the city go unsolved.

    Venezuela’s immediate need is for large expansion of law enforcement, including adequate prison space to accomodate the existing population of criminals, additional police to restore public order, additional courts to process those arrested and charged. There must also be a clean-out of corrupt or incompetent people in the system, and organizations and procedures should be carefully scrutinized for bottlenecks and sources of error.

    • Rich without detracting one bit with what you say , there is an added element contributing to the exponential rise of crime in Venezuela and which has been widely researched by Padre Alejandro Moreno and the research institution he heads for many years . This is the progressive breakdown in the family structure of the poorest people over the last 30 years , men routinely abandoning their mates and children as soon as someone new comes along , very young mothers have children simply to attach a male to themselves and in the course of a few years give birth to many children from different mates , then many emotionally and materially virtually abandon their children to go seek the next male mate. because of this abandonement children are raised in conditions which not only affect their health , bodily and mental growth but leave deep emotional scarrs that often turn them into vicious criminals . The average IQ of a Venezuelan is now 84 (16 points below whats considered normal) . I was skeptical of these studies until I had several people close to me working with these young victims of paternal abuse and abandonment tell me their experiences with these children and young men and the kind of maimed thwarted personality that marred them . A similar problem developed in American Negro Ghetoes , there are articles that document this problem and its development . In the US its been controlled thru two basic policies which Im not sure would work here , one is making abortion easily available to all young single mothers thinning the next generation of would be criminals from the land of the living , the second the kind of aggresive law enforcement which the much better organized and equipped US government agencies can efficiently implement. That takes a lot of resources and a organizational competence which is largely absent in Venezuela’n bureaucracy and takes years of focused effort to create. If you can try to read father Alejandro Morenos research and talk to physicians working full time with barrio inhabitants.or to their school teachers.


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