Venezuela's interim president and socialist party presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro has blamed the country's crime and violence problems on capitalism, and his rival Henrique Capriles led a march calling for improved security, as the country's security issues increasingly come to the fore in the presidential campaign.
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidate Maduro echoed his predecessor, the recently deceased Hugo Chavez, in blaming the country's endemic violence on the "legacy of capitalism," and pledged to create a Venezuela, "without violence, without crime," if elected April 14.
Maduro also stated that a new disarmament plan will soon be approved, and that various armed groups have responded to calls by his government to lay down their weapons, reported Pagina 12.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Capriles led a political march in Caracas and 17 Venezuelan states, demanding security and an end to violence.
On April 1, Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol announced that 3,400 homicides have occurred in Venezuela since January 1, with 545 occurring in Miranda state, where Capriles is currently governor.
InSight Crime Analysis
The fact that both candidates are openly discussing Venezuela's security problems marks a significant change in the country's political discourse. While the homicide rate has dramatically risen since Chavez came to power in 1998, the problem was rarely directly addressed by the Chavez administration. In the past, even Chavez's opponents have been reluctant to make it a primary focus.
For his part, Chavez was so agile politically, that he could sidestep or blame it on someone else. Maduro, who is expected to win the upcoming elections handily, does not have the same agility or charisma as his predecessor, and he may find that blaming capitalism will be a short-term solution.