The demand for bodyguards has surged by 70 percent in Venezuela in recent years, according to a bodyguard association, with those in the profession often earning three times more than police officers.
Speaking to El Nacional, a representative of the Inter-American Society of Bodyguards for Venezuela said that soaring crime rates and general insecurity have resulted in a greatly increased demand for protection services, though the newspaper did not specify the exact period in which he said demand had tripled.
Salaries three times higher than the average police officer have encouraged many to change profession, according to Fernandez. While a police officer typically earns around 3,000 bolivars ($700) per month, a bodyguard earns, on average, 9,000 bolivars ($2,100), Fernandez said.
Those seeking the services of bodyguards have traditionally included politicians, businessmen and executives in multinational corporations and their families. Fernandez claims the market has now expanded and that many sports and entertainment stars demand bodyguards as a requirement before entering the country.
Since President Hugo Chavez came to power, the murder rate in Venezuela has more than quadrupled, according to some observers, while the country now has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world, with the recent abduction of U.S. baseball player Wilson Ramos drawing global attention to the problem.
The risks involved in being a bodyguard, however, can be considerable. Mario Falcone, who trains bodyguards in Mexico, told El Nacional that several of his students have died while protecting their clients. "When there is an attack, the first to die are the bodyguards,” Falcone said.