Venezuelans Despair Over Rampant, Deadly Violence

August 24, 2010 11:33

Monitoring group reports country suffered more than 16,000 homicides last year. Far from containing the violence, police increasingly find themselves targeted by criminals.


“A non-governmental monitoring group, the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, reports the country suffered more than 16,000 homicides last year, more than triple the total in 1998 when President Hugo Chavez was first elected. The group says 2009 saw more violent deaths in Venezuela than in war-torn Iraq and civil war-weary Colombia combined.

Violence is heaviest in poor areas. But even in middle and upper class Venezuelan neighborhoods, many homes resemble small fortresses, encircled by stone or brick walls topped by razor or electric wire. In Caracas’ fashionable Chacao neighborhood, Roberto Blanco, 27, says he rarely leaves his home at night.”

‘”People get killed over pocket change,” said Dominguez. “And where is the president? Why doesn’t he take charge and eliminate the criminals?”

Even Chavez backers, like Caracas chef Edgar Sifuentes, list controlling crime as the president’s biggest failing.

“The lack of security – the president needs to use a stronger hand to combat it,” said Sifuentes.

President Chavez says Venezuela’s capitalist past is to blame for the high crime rates.’


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