HomeNewsBriefChavez Blasts US Travel Warning, Plays Down Venezuela Violence
BRIEF

Chavez Blasts US Travel Warning, Plays Down Venezuela Violence

HOMICIDES / 28 MAR 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reacted angrily to a US State Department travel warning pointing to the "pervasiveness" of violent crime in Venezuela. However, the president's comments neglect both the facts and the seriousness of Venezuela's precarious position.

Speaking from Cuba, where he is receiving treatment following the recent removal of a cancerous tumour in his pelvis, Chavez criticized the travel warning issued by the US State Department that says Venezuela has one of the top five highest murder rates in the world. The State Department cites statistics from the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (OVV), an NGO that says 2011 was Venezuela's most violent year ever with 19,336 murders.

The Venezuelan president responded on Tuesday, stating, "Where would there be greater lack of public security on the streets? In Venezuela or in the United States? Let's look at the figures," reports the Associated Press.

On the same day as Chavez's comments, Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami announced that more than 89,000 police officers will soon enroll in the state university dedicated to training the security forces, the Experimental Security University (UNES). This is part of Venezuela's ongoing efforts to expand the National Bolivarian Police (PNB), a new police force created in 2009 in order to better confront rising crime rates.

InSight Crime Analysis

Chavez's indignance is, to say the least, misplaced. A recent report from the·Metropolitan Observatory on Citizen Security (OMSC) echoed the OVV's conclusion that 2011 was Venezuela's most violent year on record, though it provided a more conservative number of just under 19,000 homicides, equating to a muder rate of 66 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In the capital Caracas, the 2011 murder rate stands at 108 per 100,000, according to the OMSC. In comparison, the most violent city in the US last year, New Orleans, registered a murder rate of roughly 57 per 100,000 inhabitants.

While Venezuela saw violence rise steadily over the last decade, homicides have gone down in the US. Based on FBI figures, the national per capita murder rate currently stands at 4.8 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010, less than half the numbers registered two decades ago (9.8 per 100,000).

Chavez's comparisons are also senseless because Venezuela faces a far more uncertain future in terms of public security. Chavez's challenger in this year's presidential elections, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has a poor record on security issues: while serving as governor of Miranda, the state became one of the most violent in the country. If Capriles is to win, there are also fears that leftist armed groups could rise to prominence, possibly becoming an insurgency.

The ongoing plans to expand the PNB may be the government's best bet at stemming the violence, although it is difficult to measure the full effectiveness of the force. The PNB director has said that murders have dropped by as much as 60 percent in the Caracas neighborhoods where the police units are active, but he is arguably under pressure to spin good results. The PNB are not scheduled to fully replace the local and state police forces until some time next year.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 24 JAN 2023

As American-made guns continue to flood the Caribbean, heads of state are demanding that the US do more to stem the…

COLOMBIA / 19 DEC 2022

Entrenched criminal groups on the Colombia border keep resisting Venezuelan Army efforts to root them out.

ECUADOR / 8 NOV 2022

Environmental crime is devastating the Amazon. What are these five Amazonian states doing to protect it?…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…