HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Murder Rate Rises Amid Security Crackdown
BRIEF

Venezuela Murder Rate Rises Amid Security Crackdown

HOMICIDES / 4 MAY 2016 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Newly released homicide statistics show violence continues to rise in Venezuela almost a year after the government launched a hardline campaign to break the grip of criminal organizations and end the country's security crisis.

The Attorney General's Office announced that Venezuela registered 4,696 homicides between January and March 2016, reported AFP

This compares to 3,192 homicides registered during the first trimester of 2014, according to government statistics. The government did not release a homicide round-up for the first trimester of 2015, but did say that in total the year saw 17,778 homicides -- an average of 1,482 to a month compared to 1,565 for the first three months of 2016.

The Attorney General's Office blamed the 2016 homicide rate on "organized criminal gangs" in the country, reported AFP. Other government officials have blamed insecurity on sophisticated gangs and Colombian "paramilitary" groups -- a claim used to justify the launching of a huge security operation last year in several key urban neighborhoods. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Given the Venezuelan government's long tradition of not releasing homicide statistics, this recent increased transparency is a positive development. Nevertheless, it is clear that the long-running trend of escalating violence in Venezuela shows little sign of reversing. 

SEE ALSO:  Venezuela News and Profiles

The 2016 homicide statistics do not reflect well on last year's security surge, dubbed "Operation Liberation and Protection of the People."

The massive deployment of security forces into many of Venezuela's poorest and most violent neighborhoods was supposed to break the hold of increasingly powerful gangs. However, as documented by Human Rights Watch and local media, the operation has led to alleged extrajudicial killings by police and a steady stream of complaints about human rights abuses. It may have also prompted criminal groups to become more organized in the face of such repressive policing, some analysts have suggested. 

Extrajudicial killings and indeed any deaths involving police shootouts are not included in the government's homicide count for 2016, which also excludes deaths of unknown intent. This means the actual number of violent deaths in Venezuela may be significantly higher, as reflected in the figures of non-governmental organizations such as the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia -- OVV).

Despites concerns about security forces abuses, the aggressive approach to rooting out gangs looks set to continue. In one recent operation in Aragua state, the police and military engaged in a lengthy shoot-out with a local gang that officials claimed were linked to Colombian paramilitaries

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

HOMICIDES / 21 FEB 2011

After a bloody weekend in Ciudad Juarez, a new analysis of government statistics sheds light on the patterns of violence…

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2017

New US President Donald Trump has ordered the construction of a border wall to keep out what he has labelled…

SECURITY POLICY / 23 NOV 2018

Two sweeping investigations into police units serving along Venezuela’s border were ordered after the arrest of 15 officers, several of…

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.