The Washington Post

Venezuela murder-rate quadrupled under Chavez
The Washington Post

Homicides in Venezuela have quadrupled during President Hugo Chavez’s 11 years in power, with two people murdered every hour, according to new figures from a non-governmental organization.

The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), whose data is widely followed in the absence of official statistics, said the South American nation has one of the highest crime rates on the continent, with 54 homicides per 100,000 citizens in 2009.

Crime repeatedly comes first on Venezuelans’ list of worries. It has also begun to drag on Chavez’s traditionally high approval ratings as well as scare tourists who come to Venezuela. Briceno, a criminology professor at the Central University of Venezuela and at the Sorbonne in Paris, blamed a weak judicial system and ineffective and corrupt policing in Venezuela, where he said 91 percent of crimes go unsolved.

He collates his figures from police sources and media reports. When Chavez came to power in 1999 there were 4,550 homicides whereas in 2009 there were 16,047, the OVV said. That means Venezuela experiences every month about as many deaths as occurred in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s early 2009 offensive, Briceno said.