June was the most violent month of the year in Caracas, according to a new report, but specific security trends in Venezuela remain clouded in uncertainty due to a lack of official crime statistics.
A total of 500 bodies were sent to the Bello Monte morgue in Caracas last month, the highest figure of any so far in 2016, reported El Nacional. The morgue received 2,827 bodies during the first six months of the year, an 8 percent increase from the first semester of 2015.
Some 80 percent of the deaths were the result of homicides, while 20 percent were due to traffic accidents, according to El Nacional.
In addition to civilians, increased violence is being directed at Venezuela's security forces. In early June, the Foundation for Due Process (Fundación para el Debido Proceso - Fundepro) reported 163 military officials, police officers and bodyguards had been killed during the first five months of 2016, or 14 percent more than in the same period last year.
InSight Crime Analysis
El Nacional's report suggests violence is rising in Venezuela's capital as the country's overall outlook continues to worsen. Venezuela is teetering on the verge of economic collapse, and the political situation has grown increasingly contentious as the opposition attempts to depose President Nicolás Maduro from power via a recall referendum.
Venezuela's security situation is also looking increasingly dire. Already considered one of the most violent countries in Latin America, the Attorney General's Office registered a 47 percent increase in homicides during the first three months of 2016 compared to the same time period in 2014. The government did not release homicide figures for the first trimester of 2015. And in mid-June, the University of Santa Maria in Caracas reported that the number of kidnapping cases nationwide has increased by 170 percent in 2016.
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The data, however, is far from conclusive. The number of violent deaths in Caracas, for example, include non-criminal and unintentional incidents such as car accidents. The statistics in the kidnapping report, meanwhile, were based on anecdotal evidence and perceptions.
Obtaining accurate crime statistics is a major challenge for countries across the region, but in Venezuela the problem is amplified by political indifference to improving the quality of the data sets. In the past government officials have admitted to refraining from publishing crime statistics, while more recently a report surfaced illustrating how difficult it is for researchers to gain a clear understanding of the country's violent death rate, let alone its homicide rate.