HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Confronts Homicide Statistics
BRIEF

Venezuela Confronts Homicide Statistics

HOMICIDES / 3 FEB 2016 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

In a presentation before Congress, Venezuela's Attorney General said that Venezuela registered almost 18,000 homicides last year. While some have disputed this number, the frank discussion of challenges facing the country may mark a shift in tone regarding how the government treats its crime and violence problem. 

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz addressed Venezuela's National Assembly on February 2, providing legislators with an update of year-end crime and homicide figures for 2015. The report cited a total homicide count of 17,788, putting the murder rate at 58 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In her presentation to legislators, Ortega Diaz noted the easy availability of firearms and police involvement in criminal activity as two key concerns connected to high crime and murder rates. 

Immediately after Ortega Díaz's update, Congressman Juan Miguel Matheus challenged the attorney general's figures, citing a counter-figure of nearly 28,000 violent deaths for 2015, putting the country's homicide rate at 91 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Both the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia- OVV) and the Mexican Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal- CCSPJP) offer additional competing Venezuelan homicide rates for 2015, citing 90 and 73  per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The figures on homicides in Venezuela are all over the place largely because of discrepancies in what is actually being reported. The 17,788 figure reported by Ortega Diaz corresponds only to registered intentional homicides, but leaves out violent deaths of unknown intent and deaths at the hands of police. Alternatively, the numbers used by the OVV are projections based on 2013 and 2014 data that take into account intentional homicides, violent deaths of unknown intent, and police-involved shootings. 

SEE ALSO:  Venezuela News and Profiles

Dorothy Kronick, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University whose research interests include violence in Venezuela, told InSight Crime via e-mail that if the government offered an official count of all three of these categories, its figure would likely be closer to that of the OVV. Otherwise, the OVV's estimate and the numbers cited by Ortega Díaz before Congress are simply not comparable, she added. 

Because the OVV numbers are estimates based on past data, the actual number of homicides in Venezuela is likely somewhere in between the OVV's estimate and Ortega Díaz's numbers, possibly closer to the one reported by the Mexican CCSPJP, David Smilde of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) told InSight Crime via e-mail

This most recent appearance before the National Assembly marks the first time in five years that a top law enforcement official has formally presented legislators with crime and homicide statistics. Smilde told InSight Crime this is partly due to the changing political context in Venezuela. With the opposition party now in control of the National Assembly, pro-government officials -- like the current attorney general -- are now subject to this type of demand for information from legislators, whereas previously they generally were not. Smilde noted that the absence of spin in Ortega Diaz's report and her direct recognition of firearms and police criminality as serious problems in the Venezuelan justice system show that she is willing to acknowledge hard truths. 

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

CONTRABAND / 19 JUL 2012

A new government strategy to counter gas smuggling in the Venezuelan border state of Zulia has created a fierce backlash…

ELITES AND CRIME / 19 DEC 2017

The sentence handed down in a US court to nephews of Venezuela’s first lady is anything but lenient, and it…

ELITES AND CRIME / 31 JUL 2020

Recent incursions by the ELN to set up illegal mining facilities along the Caura River in central Venezuela are being…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.