Perceptions of a crime wave

Life's a riot when you're an enchufado
Life’s a riot when you’re an enchufado

Venezuela’s Tourism Minister Andrés Izarra (infamous for having laughed about Venezuela’s high death rates on an international cable show in 2010), recently had this to say

“[la inseguridad] es un problema real, existe. No lo negamos, estamos trabajando, como todos los países de América Latina lo están trabajando, lo están atendiendo (…) ¿cuál es la particularidad de Venezuela con ese tema? La percepción, la guerra mediática que sobre el país existe”. (Transl:Crime is a real problem, it exists. We don’t deny it, and we are working, as other countries in Latin America are doing, on solving it … What is special about Venezuela? The perception of high crime that we have, [which is caused by] the media war that exists in the country.”

According to the latest Global Study on Homicide (2014) published by The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “South America now has the same homicide rate as in 1995, which is the result of very different trends at the country level.”

Venezuela, as you can imagine, stands out … “[T]he Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the only country in South America that has had a consistently increasing homicide rate since 1995.

Central America experienced an increasing homicide rate starting in 2007, “often related to drug trafficking and high levels of organized crime-related violence, which has resulted in one of the highest sub-regional homicide rates in the world”. However, Venezuela stands out in South America. We now rank as the second deadliest country in the world, only after Honduras.

According to the last available homicide rate of the 219 countries included in the UNODC study, 158 countries (72% of the nations in the world) have a rate of less than 10 homicides per 100.000 habitants. Only 12 of them (7.5% of them) have a rate over 30.

Venezuela has a rate of 53.7.

Even if we consider the Guerra de Cifras, taking both official and unofficial we can say that between 11 thousand and 25 thousand Venezuelans were killed in 2013. Violent deaths in Venezuela started to outnumber the ones in Irak starting in 2008.

It seems obvious, but it should be said: our high levels of insecurity are not a matter of perception.

In January and February of 2014, 2.841 Venezuelans were killed – one Venezuelan every 30 minutes. Izarra probably finds that hysterical.