Murders in Venezuela reached a record high of 58 per day during the first four months of the year, according to police figures contested by the government, highlighting a dire security situation amid political instability.
National police agency the CICPC registered 6,675 murders between January 1 and April 25, with 1,265 in the Caracas metropolitan area, reported El Universal.
Then-Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol presented conflicting figures at a press conference April 1, claiming 3,473 murders had taken place in the first three months of the year, an average of 38 a day.
In reference to the police figures, Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres acknowledged the country had grave levels of violence, according to El Universal. "We all have a common enemy which is the underworld," said the minister.
InSight Crime Analysis
The figures are yet more damning evidence of Venezuela's spiralling violence, which 19 different security plans implemented during Hugo Chavez's 14-year presidency failed to curb. Murder rates doubled or tripled over a decade from 1999, depending on different figures, with Venezuela now one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Chavez was able to deflect criticism with his charisma and powerful rhetoric, but since his death insecurity has become a top issue on the Venezuelan agenda, featuring heavily on the recent campaign trail for this month's presidential elections.
Newly elected President Nicolas Maduro recently reaffirmed that tackling crime would be a personal priority, but has not yet revealed any concrete plans. However, several days ago Rodriguez said that the government would soon announce measures to address the spiking violence. Meanwhile, the divisions Maduro faces within his own party, the disputed election result, and the high levels of tension generated by an utterly polarized society -- highlighted by the post-election violence -- create a cocktail of instability that can only serve to exacerbate the situation.