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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

VenEconomy: The Strategy Backfired

From the Editors of VenEconomy

The more than 13.975 homicides in 2009, 18,007 more than the 5,968 registered in 1999, are sufficient for this problem to be considered the one that gives Venezuelans most cause for concern.

How have things reached such extremes under a “revolutionary” government that claims to have eradicated inequality and exclusion, raised the level of education and put an end to illiteracy, and reduced poverty?

The answer to this question begins with the perception that all these statements are based on falsehoods and have no bearing on reality. It also has to do with the fact that the Chavista revolution has distorted the meaning of a citizen security policy that caters to society in order to design a highly politically biased policy customized to the ideology of those who today govern the country.

In these times of Hugo Chávez, the judicial institutions have been dismantled to put them at the service of his political project. As has happened in other areas, contributions by experts in the field have been discarded in order to privilege centralism and new parallel police forces that are accountable to the presidency. An example of this is the rejection of the recommendations made by the National Committee on Police Reform (Conarepol), in which security experts from all sectors took part.

Apart from that, there are a number of aggravating factors in the “revolutionary” strategy.

One is that they have allowed common criminals to infiltrate the police forces, something that was admitted by Internal Affairs Minister Tarek El Aissami when he said, at the end of 2009, that 20% of crimes were committed with the involvement of policemen. This was particularly true in the days when Juan Barreto was mayor, when members of the armed band, Los Tupamaros, entered the Metropolitan Police Force, replacing trained, experienced officers, several of them today unjustly imprisoned for the events of April 2002. The reigning permissiveness and impunity are two more factors. According to experts, three out of every four criminals who are caught are set free.

And there are more: the insistence of hiding crime figures from the general public; claiming that reports by the media on the high crime levels are untrue and that this is a matter of a “sensation of lack of security”; or laughing off opinions by experts, such as that of the sociologist Roberto Briceńo León when he explained on CNN that the homicide rate for Bogotá is 18 homicide for every 100,000 inhabitants compared to 140 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants for Caracas.

Ironically, the response to the accusations published in El Nacional last week, accompanied by horrific photos showing the dreadful situation at the Caracas morgue, was, once again, to persecute the newspaper instead of sitting down to find ways to solve a problem that affects everyone.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

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