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  1. 26 Aug '10 19:02
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/world/americas/23venez.html

    Venezuela, More Deadly Than Iraq, Wonders Why

    by SIMON ROMERO
    Published: August 22, 2010

    CARACAS, Venezuela — Some here joke that they might be safer if they lived in Baghdad. The numbers bear them out.

    In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000.

    Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.

    Venezuelans have absorbed such grim statistics for years. Those with means have hidden their homes behind walls and hired foreign security experts to advise them on how to avoid kidnappings and killings. And rich and poor alike have resigned themselves to living with a murder rate that the opposition says remains low on the list of the government’s priorities.

    Then a front-page photograph in a leading independent newspaper — and the government’s reaction — shocked the nation, and rekindled public debate over violent crime.

    ...
  2. 26 Aug '10 19:03
    ...

    While many Venezuelans saw the picture as a sober reminder of their vulnerability and a chance to effect change, the government took a different stand.

    A court ordered the paper to stop publishing images of violence, as if that would quiet growing questions about why the government — despite proclaiming a revolution that heralds socialist values — has been unable to close the dangerous gap between rich and poor and make the country’s streets safer.

    “Forget the hundreds of children who die from stray bullets, or the kids who go through the horror of seeing their parents or older siblings killed before their eyes,” said Teodoro Petkoff, the editor of another newspaper here, mocking the court’s decision in a front-page editorial. “Their problem is the photograph.”

    ...
  3. 26 Aug '10 19:04
    ...

    Venezuela is struggling with a decade-long surge in homicides, with about 118,541 since President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a group that compiles figures based on police files. (The government has stopped publicly releasing its own detailed homicide statistics, but has not disputed the group’s numbers, and news reports citing unreleased government figures suggest human rights groups may actually be undercounting murders).

    There have been 43,792 homicides in Venezuela since 2007, according to the violence observatory, compared with about 28,000 deaths from drug-related violence in Mexico since that country’s assault on cartels began in late 2006.

    Caracas itself is almost unrivaled among large cities in the Americas for its homicide rate, which currently stands at around 200 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to Roberto Briceño-León, the sociologist at the Central University of Venezuela who directs the violence observatory.

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  4. 26 Aug '10 19:07
    ...

    More than 90 percent of murders go unsolved, without a single arrest, Mr. Briceño-León said. But cases against Mr. Chavez’s critics — including judges, dissident generals and media executives — are increasingly common.

    Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda, a state encompassing parts of Caracas, told reporters last week that Mr. Chávez had worsened the homicide problem by cutting money for state and city governments led by political opponents and then removing thousands of guns from their police forces after losing regional elections.

    ...
  5. 26 Aug '10 19:09
    i heard a kid got capped in no1marauder's neighborhood a few years ago.
  6. 26 Aug '10 19:17
    Venezuela has a large gap between rich and poor, and very low taxes for the rich. This is already a template for high crime, but drug trafficking and Chavez' anti-rich people rhetoric fuels crime even more.