HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Youth Crime Up 70% In 2014
BRIEF

Venezuela Youth Crime Up 70% In 2014

HOMICIDES / 3 DEC 2015 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Venezuela’s social and economic disarray has resulted in a sharp increase in the amount of children involved in crime, spotlighting the importance of security issues for voters ahead of upcoming elections.

According to the Venezuelan children’s rights group CECODAP, the number of crimes perpetrated by minors (those under 18 years of age) increased 70 percent in 2014, while one youth was murdered every 10 hours, reported Reuters. UNICEF also states that, after gang-plagued El Salvador and Guatemala, Venezuela is the third worst country worldwide for youth homicides.

In certain neighborhoods, an estimated 30 percent of local youths take part in criminal activities, with children as young as eight being used as drug mules. Some of the most high-profile murders of 2014 were committed by teenagers, including that of former Miss Venezuela and a local folk singer. Furthermore, while the government has doubled prison sentences for violent crimes committed by minors aged 14 and older, children younger than 14 are protected from legal action, even for serious crimes, according to Reuters.

Serious economic issues, a 90 percent impunity rate, and inadequate social and rehabilitation programs were indicated as factors behind the rising involvement of children in criminal activities.

In one particular case, a 17 year old gang member said he earned at least 150,000 Venezuelan Bolivars ($23,800 at the official exchange rate) per month — or 15 times the minimum monthly wage — and that a single paid assassination could earn him 200,000 Bolivars ($31,700).

A 16 year old living in a poor suburb in the city of San Felix shed light on why he and other youths may be tempted to join the gangs: “They killed my two brothers here in the barrio. I wanted revenge,” said Jesus. “Then I thought ‘I’ve not met anyone who turns to crime and escapes death.’ To die or to suffer, those are the options.”

InSight Crime Analysis

As the December 6 National Assembly elections approach, sky-high crime rates remain one of the main preoccupations among Venezuelan citizens. And reports of the widespread involvement of children in murders and thefts highlights how Venezuela’s social and economic deterioration is afflicting some of its most vulnerable citizens.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

A recent survey by the Observatory on Organized Crime demonstrates the ease for ordinary people to become involved in crime owing to the country’s current climate of insecurity. Of those questioned, 42 percent thought it was “easy” or “very easy” to get a gun in their neighborhood, while 36 percent gave the same answers regarding how easy it was to have someone killed.

Daily manifestations of common crime have galvanized popular frustrations surrounding the country’s suffering economy, a series of high-level corruption scandals, and fears of political violence. This chaotic social and political situation in Venezuela could spell electoral defeat for the incumbent PSUV party — which according to recent surveys only has 28 percent of voter support — wresting significant power from the socialist regime for the first time since 1999.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 13 JAN 2012

The indictment of a Lebanese man accused of running a money laundering and drug trafficking ring for Hezbollah in Colombia…

HOMICIDES / 24 MAR 2016

Mexico's Interior Minister has said less than half of all murders in the state of Michoacán are connected to organized…

ECUADOR / 20 JAN 2020

The criminal, economic and political dynamics behind illegal gold rushes this past year in Venezuela and Ecuador were very different.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…