International oil community concerned about violence … in Iraq

Same problem, different wardrobe
Same problem, different wardrobe

An article on violence in Iraq, a country of similar size to Venezuela, courtesy of The money quote:

“A wave of violence has swept parts of Iraq at the start of 2014 as the central government fights back against Al-Qaeda aligned militants in Anbar Province… Over 7,800 civilians were killed in Iraq in 2013, the bloodiest year over the past five.”

Imagine that, almost eight thousand civilians. A third of our murders, and yet the international community says absolutely nothing about the violence in Venezuela.

Shame on them.

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  1. violence in Iraq is many times more likely to disrupt oil production than violence in Venezuela, hence the apparent international oil community carelessness about Venezuela’s violence problem

    • Pretty much this. As violent as Venezuela has become there is no Al Qaeda in the country and the world powers only pay attention to direct threats to their well being. Venezuelan crime is a threat to Venezuelans but it doesn’t threaten oil production.

  2. To be fair, this is a wave of militant violence. Murders in robberies and such are a separate category, and also pretty bad in Iraq. Road deaths are a similar issue, their toll is much higher worldwide than death toll from wars.

  3. Well, that’s a no brainer. In the middle east, insurgents go for the oil fields to keep the oil revenue from the governement, and eventually use it as a source of revenue for themselves. The article in repeats the word “oil” more than 30 times

    Libia recently threatened to sink any oil tanker that dared try to load oil from a facility recently captured by rebels. (

    Syrian rebels have also used this strategy (

    In Nigeria, rebels have sabotaged oil facilities repeatedly.

    I don’t think we’ll see anyone so worried, unless pranes start taking over oil rigs and selling oil outside Petrocaribe.

  4. At least in Germany, there are news about the crime issue in Venezuela. The murder of Monica Spear + family got 1 article and 1 movie in Spiegel online, which is the most read online news site. The article mentions the serious crime issue of venezuelan society under Chavismo. There was no coverage in tagesschau, our most popular tv news program. But the crime topic got coverage in TV before. The euro kids, pendejos sin fronteras, etc. who wish to adore chavismo, are actually a small group. Of course people here have problems to contextualize the news, because its quite a remote country.

      • I saw it here in the local news this morning, which was a surprise.
        They didn’t mention anything about the high murder rate, it was all about the Miss Venezuela killed. I may write a note to the TV station pointing out that this is one of many, and most of them go unresolved.

  5. Guys, I want you to take a brief view of this:

    There is a point that comes time after time and we, people who came from “casas sanas”, never seem to notice it much: DRUGS.

    I was told this by a relative of mine who is a doctor and has been working in public hospitals from the IV Republic times: the amount of guys who get there after been shot while shooting
    and who are full full full of cocaine and other drugs really increased dramatically at the same time that the murder rate went from 10 to 19 x 100000 (I didn’t hear that but “from the eighties to the nineties”.

    It is almost certain that the problem has only got much worse. Many of these guys are on drugs.
    Venezuela is nowadays not just a transport country. It has huge cocaine consumption problems, even if that seems like another world for (most of) us.

    And we need to talk about that.

    • There is a difference between spiking drug use among barrio gang members ( such as your relative mentions ) and drug trafficking gangs , some studies appear to show that the latter are more organized, more business functional and dont necessarily foster the use of drugs among their members .
      Example, in the Caucagua area there was a drug gang headed by two brothers that did its dirty business but kept the more chaotic forms of violent crime under control ( holding up a bus in a road and raping all the women ). The police broke up the gang and imprisoned the brothers ) , the result: crime incidence and severity got worse as there was no one to control its worst excesses, there is the same reference in one of padre Morenos studies where he compares different kind of criminal gangs in the barrios. The drug traficking bands engage in wars which cause a lot of murders , but they dont necessarily target the civilian population .

      • Bill,

        We are not talking about drug wars here (although they do happen a lot).

        We are talking about quite some of these guys either high on cocaine when they attack or needing more cash for more cocaine.
        There is a lot of this.
        I remember – and that was 1997 – how I was explaining to a German girl in front of my relative how we actually had mostly a problem of trafficking when the other told me: “you have no idea, brother”…and started to tell me things that shocked me. We have been talking about the topic since then and I have been able to verify that with other doctors who also work in public hospital in places where they have to extract an awful lot of bullets every single night.

        There is also another topic: the desplazados de Vargas and places around Caracas.
        I have heard this not only from old poor from all around Carabobo but also from traditionally humble people from many places in Lara that are now extremely dangerous: starting in early 2000 a huge amount of people started to settle there from the Vargas-Caracas area. Most of these people brought very dysfunctional families.
        They had no jobs whereas the others were farmers and the like. All those areas are now extremely dangerous.

        I think it was in Happiness: Lessons from a New Science by Layard where I read about the profound consequences that important displacement of people has had in violent crime. Think Pakistan. Think Venezuela.

        It is hard for virtually all expats in this blog and for most others in middle-class+ areas in Venezuela, but if you can, try to find out a little bit about the background of many of the people involved in those crimes, where they live, what is their political preference.

        I will also venture this: in Carabobo the old poor who moved up or at least remained in a stable position are much more likely to be oppos.

        As I showed in a previous post, I tracked several of the guys now detained for the Spear case in the CNE registries of 2010 and now. I see they were living in the worst of the worst in Puerto Cabello and one of them went from bad to worse place. They actually voted in the most Chavista centres of Puerto Cabello and at least one of them has been repeatedly involved in drug stuff.

        • I definitely agree with Vargas refugees being a factor in going from some “ghetto violence” in the misery belts around mayor cities, to a Pran State.

          Small rural/oil towns, like Punta de Mata in Monagas, used to be the pretty zanahoria: people had a conuco, or worked for PDVSA/the municipality/the governorship or a mom and pop shop. Now they’re rife with violence, crime, drugs, lawlessness, etc.

          I’ve heard people refer to those initial Vargas refugees as malandros/putas since they were relocated without any job prospects and promptly jumped to drug traficking, prostitution, pan handling, robbery, kidnapping, etc. Old residents from such small towns usually remember make a before/after distinction using the Vargas refugees as a reference. But nowadays the violence is local, most of the Vargas refugees returned to the misery belts because they didn’t like the rural life, but their example left a deep mark on a national scale.

    • Yes of course, this is a problem that comes from drug use and the much higher presence of drugs in the country, and the drug gangs. I spoke one time with a guy who was high in the 80s with the DISIP. He said to me that all the work they did during those years to prevent the drug cartels to get into the country, it’s gone now. All that work was done in vain since Chavez decided he wasn’t gonna fight them. To what extend this no fighting, doing business? Turn the eyes away, let them in peace? Who knows was I am not sure, and I don’t think anybody is. But Venezuela stopped the war against drugs after Chavez. All of this is a reflection of that policy of negligence against crime and criminals.

      • “Turn the eyes away, let them in peace? ”
        I believe so, dear feathers. To name just one example: that’s why there are no longer tolls or oversight on the main route on which Mónica Spears and her ex-husband were assassinated.

    • Here’s another profile (

      I think we should hold accountable several people (mostly judges) who had it in their power to stop at least one of these criminals (Adolfito). The highlights:

      – In 2003 the guy was caught by the police with a stolen motorcycle. A judge dismissed the case (Who and why?).
      – Then he spend some time in and out of prison (Why did he come out?)
      – In 2007, already a notorious criminal, he joined the military (WTF! where’s the background check?)
      – In January 2008, he deserted the military, stealing a rifle and other military equipment/stuff (Who was taking care of the arsenal?)
      – Then he settled his turf on the Valencia-Puerto Cabello highway and founded his gang.
      He proceeded to improve his tactic of putting traps on the road, robbing the stranded victims, and going back to a hidden HQ to wait for the next victim. (Why didn’t the police increase security in the area or bait him with cops posing as victims?)
      – In 2009, a military court issued an arrest warrant on him (took them a year).
      – In 2010, the police caught him for drug trafficking. He only served 3 months in Tocuyito prison before being released (Why was he released? Who ordered the release?)
      – In July 2013, he was caught again, and released by the military court “on parole”. He was supposed to report back every 30 days. He never reported back. (Why was the sentence so lenient? Who sentenced him?)
      – In January 2013, he was caught by the locals, who were sick and tired of his crimes, and delivered to the police. Once the police start investigating, they find some objects that belonged to Monica Spear, and other less news-worthy victims.

      I’ve seen this many times before. Police officers risking their life to capture criminals, only for them to be released back on the street in a matter of weeks or months (instead of years or decades).

  6. Anyone who thinks there is not a huge cocaine consumption problem must be living in a unusually protected environment.Right now I am involved in long distance helping of several kids that grew up in and around Caurimare, former friends of my children,and children of some of my friends who tell me the reason they STAY in Venezuela is because it is so easy and cheap to be addicted to cocaine, and “everybody” is doing it…it was even that way to a slightly lesser extent in the late 90’s….when the upper class used it in their foul parties.

    Just think how easy it is to live on the streets in Venezuela.Kids are sleeping outside because the weather permits….kids break in and crash in their friends houses and apartments because nobody calsl the police on them, due to the lack of infrastructure and formal obligations in Venezuela people do not have to be paying home or car insurance,high utility bills,or taxes, in order to survive…..a lot of money can be thrown into drugs.Even a car is not necessary in Caracas.People offer you food wherever you go and many kids live with their parents until middle aged of more,freeing up most of their money.Families spoil their children with too much support, opening the gateway for willful and immature behavior.I don’t give 2 cents for any statistics in Venezuela..I simply know that the problem of cocaine consumption there is horrendous .

    • Wow, hold it. I was with you up to the second half of the last paragraph. Emancipation in Venezuela is not easily achieved at all.

      “[…]People offer you food wherever you go and many kids live with their parents until middle aged of more,freeing up most of their money.Families spoil their children with too much support, opening the gateway for willful and immature behavior[…]”

      Many kids live with their parents up to middle age because renting a ROOM (not an apartment, mind you) in Caracas goes for VEF 4000 a month on average, while a fresh-out-of-college engineer should be making, according to the Engineering Guild, VEF 8200 a month. Some kids are still dependent on their parents even after they graduated, and got jobs because doctors and nurses in public hospitals are making even less than engineers, the same is true for college professors and teachers.

      • J Navarro,

        I am aware of what you say, but it is is still a fact that children live at home til middle age or after no matter what the reason.

        As for the spoiling, it is also a fact in many cases that parents do not enforce their offspring to pay their full share of expenses.Sometimes even when parents are at ages where the kids should be taking responsibility for them.

        All of this leads to more free money for the younger generation to spend on drugs.

        • Like I said, I mostly agreed with you. Emancipation is just a pet subject of mine.

          We are definitely on the same page on spoiled children, (especially the infant-teenage variety).
          A part of me dies every time I see a parent caving in, instead of being tough, when a child grows insolent (buying an expensive toy, just so kid stops a tantrum in public)
          Or when parents demand that teachers give their children a passing grade (as opposed to making the child study and learn).
          Or when parents do their kid’s homework or pay someone to have it done.
          Or the whole attitude that no one is allowed to chastise their children, “that’s my kid, stay out of it”, including other authority figures like family members, watchmen, police officers, teachers, etc; even if their kids are found beating someone, drunk/doing drugs, vandalizing property, skipping school, cheating on tests, armed, with stolen goods, etc.

          • There’s the problem, for the most part: fruit-loop parents and their inability to create a harmonious home centered on values that matter, perhaps because they didn’t have that growing up (yeah, that means you, grandma). How about, too, some of those who hide their imbalances under cloaks of presumed authority — teachers, police, etc…

          • That’s one great topic for a dissertation or book Navarro, the psychological effect that living with their parents until middle age had in this generation thanks to rent regulations. Moving outside your parents place is incredibly difficult in Venezuela and I found laughable saying that because people in Venezuela lives with their families they have a lot money to spare in cocaine, when in fact many people has to help their parents, specially in Venezuela where inflation has eaten away the value on any retirement pension.

          • Exactly. We are seeing a lot of domestic conflicts, due to the lack of housing:

            – divorced spouses living together because neither can afford to move out, even if they took half the proceeds of selling the house.

            – Multiple single-room-homes inside a house: Mom and dad had two kids, each kid had a room. The kids grow up, get married, but can’t afford to move out. So there’s Mom, Dad, two grown up kids, two in-laws, and maybe a couple of babies crammed into an space designed for just one married couple and a couple of infant children. There’s conflicts over noise, children discipline, house chores, cleaning habits, food stealing, clothing stealing, money for house expenses, sibling rivalry, con-cuñado/a rivalry, conflicts between the parents and their kid’s spouses, etc.

          • Yes, and people sort of lives in a arrested development, with their parents, not being able to go out much because of fear of crime. That produces a lot of anxiety and feeling of defeat of people my age.

          • agree, that the topic is multi-faceted and must never be summed up on the basis of one person’s extrapolated experience, albeit indirect, and at a distance.

  7. Kepler : I mentioned the drug trafficking gangs as a separate phenomena to drug use by barrio gang members as a disgression , not to underplay the importance of the latter , I am fully aware of the role of expanding drug use in worsening the already huge violent crime problem . I too have a close relative who has worked as a medic in barrio environments and the tales are horrifying !! I also have another close relative who has worked as a medic to help young drug addicts and their families and the extent of the problem cannot be underestimated .,


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