Last month, Caracas Chronicles published a minutely researched article raising serious questions about the Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia’s headline finding that there were 27,875 violent deaths in Venezuela in 2015. The estimate, Dorothy showed fairly decisively, probably overstates the body count by around 6,000 deaths.

To our surprise and delight, OVV essentially agreed. In paragraph 14 of their response to us they own up that they had misinterpreted a crucial data point from 2013 and that when you recalculated murder totals on the basis of the corrected 2013 data, you found a substantially smaller number than 27,875.

We think their correction didn’t go far enough: but one thing is not in doubt, both explicitly in their communications to us and more circumspectly in their public response, OVV accepts that their original number needed correcting.

That was 39 days ago. This was yesterday.

El director de la organización no gubernamental (ONG) Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia (OVV), Roberto Briceño León, aseguró este martes que ha aumentado la incidencia de los delitos no violentos en la nación caribeña, que registra altas tasas de criminalidad y que se espera que este año se reporten al menos 30 mil muertes violentas.

Aseguró que reportan un incremento general de los delitos en Venezuela y, aunque reconoce la dificultad de hacer proyecciones en materia de criminalidad, estima que 2016 cerrará con aproximadamente 30 mil muertes violentas, frente a las 27.875 reportadas por esa ONG para 2015. Frente a los datos de la ONG, las cifras oficiales cifraron, sin embargo, en 17.778 los muertos en casos de homicidio intencional o doloso en 2015, lo que representa una tasa de 58,1 homicidios por cada 100.000 habitantes.

OVV head Roberto Briceño Leon just went back to using a figure that OVV, in its own obtuse way, had already recanted!

Better yet, he went on to project 2016’s violent death tally…in August! Because who needs to wait until the end of the year when you’re projecting murder numbers on the basis of zero new evidence?

I’ve long suspected that OVV operates on Trumpian levels of tirapiedrismo, but now I have evidence. Now we know OVV spreads information it knows to be false.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Great… Now we can start thinking about the natural extension of this topic, why is OVV acting in such way? Any motivations (if any) or plain sloppiness?

  2. Aren’t you kind of jumping the gun a bit here Francisco?

    Briceño Leon said in the article from 2001 you linked that they “estimate” 30K violent deaths.

    Granted, you could ascribe a possible political motive for releasing an estimate in August, given the state of things right now.

    If the news were that OVV next February releases a 30K figure, and it turns out they went back to including data/methods they used before, that’s another thing.

  3. Maybe it’s time to contact OVV’s donors and ask them to stop financing it if the organization is unable to take corrective actions showing its willingness to act responsibly: Roberto Briceño León dismissal, for instance

    Otherwise this money could be much more fruitful in the hands of serious fact-driven people

  4. I said it once here, long before the research, and I will say it again: Who in its right mind would trust anyone with that moustache?

  5. While this is very disappointing, it is an unnecessary distraction from a much more important point. The Government is not publishing the statistics, and when and if they do so, they are not reliable. The real story here is that it necessary to fall back on complex statistical gymnastics to arrive at estimations of statistics which should be published on a timely basis and based upon officially collected and reported data.

    • It isn’t a distraction. NGO’s such as OVV shouldn’t be allowed to spit out blatant lies. That’s the core of the Venezuelan political decay: No one cares about telling the truth anymore.

      • I am in agreement. This is important. I did not mean to suggest otherwise.

        What I meant to lament is that OVV’s irresponsibility has shifted the focus away from the Government’s larger irresponsibility in not publishing accurate and timely statistics AND the actual human tragedy of tens of thousands of violent deaths.

  6. Cleary OVV has done a clumsy job.

    And yet I wonder when we are going to try to find out what is happening in the last year or so.

    A couple of things: since 2004 I was collecting the murder statistics per municipality of Carabobo based on Notitarde data. The data seemed pretty reliable (I won’t go into it now but I will in a post). Last year, a few months after Notitare was bought, those stats stopped being published. I had seen the stats from El Carabobeno for the same region, Carabobo, and even though they diverged, the difference was rather small.
    I have recently seen the statistics from El Carabobeno and they showed a clear hike. Is something happening or they are making up numbers per municipality of Carabobo? I doubt it’s the second.

    I do know people are more scared and even though I have always heard of friends and relatives who had seen shootings in and around Valencia – most of them are in Venezuela, not in Miami or in Montreal or her in Europe- now they are reporting a lot more. Anecdotal? Maybe.

    Now: why has the government now decided to stop so dramatically the access to several of the well-known mortuaries?

    Just today opposition deputies were prevented from accessing the main one in Caracas, but the military have been controlling its access for some months now.


    • Kepler dixit: Now: why has the government now decided to stop so dramatically the access to several of the well-known mortuaries?

      One of the places where data was collected was precisely the mortuaries.

      Since the government wants to jigger the mortality reporting they had to start there, no?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here