Killing them loudly

Just another statistic
Just another statistic

As the year comes to a close, it’s time for countries to take stock of official and not-so-official numbers. One figure that has raised a lot of eyebrows is Venezuela’s murder rate.

According to NGO Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia, more than 24 thousand Venezuelans were murdered in 2013. This comes out to 79 people per 100.000, making our country the third most deadly in the world.

On the heels of a much publicized plan called “Patria Segura,” this is nothing but a resounding failure for the government. In a normal country, the wave of violence alone would be cause for impeachment – from the President, all the way down to the Supreme Court in charge of handing out “justice.” But these are deaths without guilt – according to chavista talking points nobody is responsible, it’s a worldwide trend, and … let’ talk about faulty poverty statistics instead!

This reality also serves as an indictment of the policy of not revealing actual statistics, or lying about them. The government thinks opacity will make the problem go away or alow them to control the message, but all it does is give credibility to NGOs and other civic actors. This year, expect the same thing to happen to inflation numbers – from now on, it’s likely that local economists will be the ones publishing reliable inflation numbers, just like in Argentina.

At any rate, spare a thought for those 25 thousand Venezuelans who lost their lives. They will never again see the light of day – but the revolution responsible for their deaths is alive and well.

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  1. Excuse me, I am an outsider and I’ve never been to Venezuela. I know that the Venezuelan government no longer publishes the homicide statistics, but how accurate and impartial is the homicide rate compiled by the Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia? I know that Venezuela is an extremely violent country(like the rest of South America) but is it as violent as the OVV claims? The Venezuelan government has often claimed that the homicide rate as calculated by the NGOs is usually faulty.

    • As someone who knows people working with the OVV and Roberto Briceño Leon himself, I can say that they’re more reliable in this subject than the government.

    • I have checked out over the years the monthly murder reports appearing at a local newspaper in my region (Greater Valencia, aka Carabobo). They publish names of victims, ages and so on. It’s hard to make that up.
      It would be nice if this organisation would publish data per state, though. I don’t know if they do (I haven’t seen that).

      Here you can see the last report the Chávez government submitted to United Nations:
      Venezuela has had about 11 ministers of interior in the last 14 years…which is quite remarkable given the fact it is supposed to be the same government (at least until the caudillo died).

      In any case: the murder rate has more than tripled since Chavismo came to power, even by official numbers.

      I really can’t understand how most of my compatriots reason.
      Chavismo goes like this:
      1) crime had already increased during the IV Republic and we just got the problem
      2) In the last few months we have managed to reduce crime in X% (crime as defined by them, not some really hard figure like murders, which are a bit harder to massage).
      3) THUS we have improved the situation and are better than the opposition.

      Sometimes they say “there are more people now than 14 years ago”.

      And the opposition does not seem to explain what the hell RATE is.
      You don’t need more than primary school to grasp the concept of murder rate.

    • Something wholly anecdotal to consider:

      My wife is an ex-pat and we have numerous ex-pat friends in the community and we all know someone back in Venezuela that has been the victim of murder.

      This holds true for everyone we know in Venezuela as well, rich or poor, chavista or opposition.

      How common is that outside of a few countries anywhere else in the world.

      • Yes, I don’t think that there is any doubt that Venezuela is in a league of its own in South America with violent crime. There may be some comparable areas in Brazil and Central America, but in Venezuela, everyone everywhere has a big target on their backs. Even if you ignore the stats, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. I would be surprised if there was a single Venezuelan living in Venezuela reading this blog who was not a victim of violent crime, most probably multiple times. If you enlarge the category to “homicide” (i.e. include car accidents), we are talking about something that touches the daily life of everyone. A close relative of mine was hit by a drunk driver on Christmas eve; the driver was an on-duty state police officer. This is insanity and yes, the regime is responsible and human life in their eyes means nothing except a business opportunity. You kill someone, you hurt someone, and if that act was not already done with the complicit support of the regime or its agents, in which case the perpetrator is protected, the perpetrator buys his way out. Was it this way before Chavez came to power? – not hardly this much, is what everyone tells me.

    • Thanks, Kliq.
      It would be nice if they could produce data per state as well.
      I have plotted a lot of charts on crime in Venezuela. I just looked for one where I did the comparison with other American countries.
      You can see it here.
      Unfortunately, that one is from 2007 or so. The situation has worsened since then in Venezuela whereas it has kept improving in Colombia.
      That would be an eye popper to every Venezuelan but it seems like no one is capable of producing that kind of simple charts and explain them. There is nothing like putting things in context of region AND time. And it is not that hard.

      • The OVV is doing what they can to create regional chapters. They’re some already in place and other on planning stages.

  2. A clear example of the “lists” that the Minister of information from the Bolivarian Venezuela will never published in her twitter!

  3. Remember now “tourism” ministry Risarrita, laughing his heart out at the murder rate statistcs?
    Check him out in YOUTUBE. This is a dictatorship.

    • Don’t know, but I have to be in Venezuela soon and that price was ‘god-given’ – I live in the US and all other tickets I could find were over $2K (even AA had no tickets for sale at all) – I guess LAN hasn’t figured out that they can charge way more for flights to Venezuela

  4. I saw the episode in CNN when the Minister tried to ridicule the information a critic of the govt had just mentioned by producing a very forced , faked laughter that went on and on and which sounded so transparently false that it became embarrasing to see him continue with it . He wasnt laughing at the victims of the crime , he was very ineptly trying to ridicule the govt critic with a very unconvincing laughter .
    What really concerns me is not just the awful statistic but what is making them happen . Of course part of the problem is the govt inattention/ineptitude in fighting crime or a sentimental revolutionary posture which sees the hard boiled criminal as an innocent victim of capitalism ( which excuses him for commiting those crimes) . The person who has most closely studied the phenomena is anthropologist Alejandro Moreno ( a scholar priest who has spent decades living in La bombilla in Petare) . he points out to the fact that the poorest citydwellers live in a social medium where there are no fathers only macho studs that go from woman to woman making them pregnant so that at a very early age mothers are burdened with a load of children (from different fathers) they cant take care of and which they simply abandon materially and emotionally causing traumas in the child which to gain some measure of self respect feel they must incurr in some kind of violent crime to prove themselves strong and powerful . Because this population of abandoned children has grown exponentially the last 20 odd years there are every year a greater number of damaged children who in turn reproduce and give brith to new generations of violent criminals , the fragile social fabric that used to hold together these children semi protected inside a kind of matricentric familily group 20 odd years has become more and more frayed each year giving rise to an exponential growth in criminal violence . There is a paralell phenomena ocurring at the middle class level where parents abandon their children emotionally albeit not quite as drastically with rising criminal activities among the middle class children , the latter however have the chance of resorting to crimes which are less noticiably violent . The cause is social and has a historical background in the mentality of the macho man who doesnt take any responsability for his wife and children causing the single mothers to assumme a burden they often can not take leading to abandoned children who resort to crime .
    Its a problem that can be mitigated through good crime fighting and prevention by the govt and the judiciary but ultimately it involves an effort at changing the mentality of people who dont take their parental rsponsibilities seriously . A big big job that requires a lot of resources and intelligent effort .
    In the US there are many studies done to explain why negro young men fall behind the children of other origins and fall into criminal behaviour despite the huge efforts of the govt to provide them with extra help in education and welfare assistance . The problem is the same , too many abandoned children, too many parents that syre their children and then abandon them , too many ssingle mothers that dont have the will or upbringing to make them into adequate mothers and instilling in their children the habits that can help them scape into a better life.

    • If I understand you correctly, you say that parents have abandoned their children who then fall into crime, and the government has abandoned the problem which is increasing exponentially, and that CNN has abandoned thorough journalism which isn’t getting the problem laughed at instead of being made public.

      • Gordo : problem with blogs is that you have to summarize and simplify your message to fit the space so much that what comes out is almost a caricature of what needs to be said , but basically what you state as the cause of crime growth in Venezuela, according to the many studies made by the institute headed by father Alejandro Moreno is correct . Govts dont understand the causes, they always quote poverty and lack of ‘education’ but miss the social and cultural underpinnings of these causes . We had poverty and educational shortcomings before but the problem has grown worse and worse beause of the cummulative effect of these social and cultural factors compounded by a lack of govt attention to the pursuit of adequate crime prevention and punishment . This is also happening in Central America and to smaller degree in Mexico. CNN as most mass mdia dont have the format to examine these phenomena in any deptht , they just want to be watched by lots of people , maybe because most of their audience dont have the intellectual literacy or interest to go any further than the most superficial/frivolous presentation of this kind of subject . CNN didnt laugh at the problem, the minister they interviewed did , he alone , and as mentioned before he just made believe that he was laughing because he wanted to be derisive of what a critical voice in the program was saying and unfortunately for him it came out exagerated and wrong. These same factors are operating in the black ghetto culture of the US but the number of exposed children is propportionally much smaller in the US and the policing and imprisonment rates much better than they are here, so it doesnt show that much.

    • Bill, in that interview Izarra was laughing at Briceño from OVV. He was trying to discredit Briceño as ridiculous and thought that it was laughable to compare Venezuela’s murder rate with Iraq’s. In a functioning democracy he would have been fired immediately.

  5. I don’t understand how come every time murder and crime rates are mentioned no one mentions the ginormous white elephant in the room: a flawed justice system where you can get away with murder, literally, if you have the right amount of money.

    • Nevermind the flawed system, it is a political party in power whose leadership is either morally debased or intends deliberate harm to the common good of those it governs.

      • I understand that maintaining the flawed system is in the best interest of the ruling elite. What I mean is that people don’t seem to understand the very strong relationship between crime, violence and a perverse “justice” system.

        • Let’s, for a moment, leave the “system” out of it. We have a situation where the Ruling Leadership has harshly censured various opposition leaders by name for having vacations outside Venezuela, while laughing at the opposition for censuring the Ruling Leadership for not addressing the horrendous murder rate. Yes, the justice system is flawed, but what about the outrageous behavior? Where do you start?

          • I don’t get where your argument is going.

            I’m not saying that the perverse “justice” system is the only cause for violence, murder and crime rates, I’m just saying that it is a huge influencing factor that often gets overlooked

        • To me, harsh judgement against those who leave the country for vacation as though it were an important crime, while laughing at those who want to address the problem of people being murdered in the streets, is something that needs careful consideration. To me, the flaws of the justice system pales in the face of a government being led by a group of deranged criminals.

          • That’s you, but Yonaiker the jibaro or Carlos the thug/motorbiker are more eager to shoot someone to death cause they know that paying 200.000 bolívares fuertes to the CICPC and the Fiscalía will get them in the street free of charges.

            Or in the case that they can’t get away with murder, they know that they can pay the Judge to be incarcerated in PGV, where “mi primo Rodilla ‘e perro es el pran” and keep on making a livin out of crime.

            So the way it is today, having a flawed justice and penitentiary system is kind of a big deal when we’re talking crime rates.

          • I think we agree that both the government leadership and the flawed justice system are problems. Certainly, the flawed justice system is the most “proximate” problem to the murderers thinking they can get away with murder. Certainly, the morally deranged government leadership is the most “proximate” barrier to the solution of murderers getting away with murder.

          • Simply put, yes. The morally deranged government is a huge barrier to the solution for criminality problem.

            And “morally deranged”, as well as any other equally offensive adjective is an understatement that doesn’t even start to describe the way this gang of law-raping motherfuckers behave, pardon my french.

    • Actually, I should point out that “morally debased” doesn’t quite hit the mark. It should be they are morally debased under pretense of being the moral voice of the people while expressing unfounded harsh judgement against opposition who seek to petition for redress of this horrible situation per their constitutional responsibility to do so. These people are savages!

        • Hypocrites are those who hold others to higher standards than they hold themselves. I don’t think that hits the mark. The opposition is at the higher standards!

    • Leonardo you are right that the level of impunity prevalent in Venezuela is a factor in our exceptional crime rate . You actually need three institutions to function in tandem , 1.- a police system to catch the criminals and take them to court ,2.-a judicial system to prosecute the criminals and sentence them to prison . 3.- a prison system to make them pay for their crime and really put them out of circulation . None of the 3 systems work in Venezuela . The 3 systems are both inept and corrupt . My fear is that even if you had these 3 systems working as they should there would still be a lot of crime, for two pyschological reasons . one that the criminal doesnt believe when he commits the crime that he will be caught and made to pay for his crime , he is in thrall to beliefs which are not rational and which make him feel the exception , the one that will always get away . secondly beause they are so filled with anger and vile and passionate pride at being able to demonstrate their manliness at committing a crime that they are blind to the consequences for them of being caught , they dont think about it . So although a good police , judicial and prison system can really help the crime rate go down , it wont stop it from happening and becoming a big social problem. When you look at the portion of Venezuelan population in which the social fabric is dysfunctional for the reasons already mentioned the challenge to the police judicial and prison systems are enormous and very costly , youd have to build whole prison cities to deterr the problem. And yet the need for such 3 systems cannot be overlooked.

      • I’m not saying it is the ONLY influencing factor, therefore fixing it is not the only solution, but it would certainly help.

        Mothers and children being abandoned by irresponsible fathers, that was already mentioned, is another cause for kids to adopt a (short) life of crime. And when I say kids I’m talking about 11 year old carricitos involved in killing and drug trafficking.

        Lack of a nuclear family with good role models, poverty and the so-called misery belts obviously provide the breeding ground for violent criminals, I get that. But don’t understimate the power of fear as a regulator of human behaviour, if you fear getting caught by policemen who do their job right, fear being prosecuted by a law abiding Fiscalía that has its shit together, and fear being incarcerated in a place where the GNB will actually enforce rules, imposing discipline and a decent way of living, you’ll be less prone to go around being a trigger-happy crazy dude.

        • Pankas , we are in total agreement , it would help greatly if we had a functioning police, judicial and prison system which, unfortunately we havent got . Perhaps Im now overly influenced by having just read Malcolm Gladwells latest book David and Goliath which has a section dealing with the ‘3 strikes your out’ California system of punishment which later turned out not to be as succesful in preventing crime as people originally believed . Basic message: people are not always very rational in how they assess risks and punishments, specially in the heat of the moment in which they decide to commit their crime. Do read the book and youll understand !! thanks for your comment.

          • Very different realities, I don’t think that when the program started in California they had the kind of distortions we’re dealing with in our criminal justice system. I’ll put the book in my overly-stacked to-read list, sound like an interesting read.

  6. El Plan Patria Segura es la primera fase y ha sido buena, exitosa, pero no es suficiente”

    He’s right, of course the first phase was only thinking of a name for the plan.

    On the macabre/sick humour side, the high murder rate probably explains – partly – the lower poverty rate.


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