Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The carnage continues 

Today crime is again at the forefront of the news in Venezuela. This is due to the high profile kidnapping and murder of three Venezuelan-Canadian children. But contrary to the image that case might create the real daily tragedy is in Venezuela’s poor neighborhoods. Everyday Ultimas Noticias has three or four articles detailing different murders. They are all too depressing like this one published today:

The people of the Brazul neighborhood blocked the Intercommunal avenue of El Valle to protest the murder of Aquimedes Briceno (35), who was murdered on Monday.

“My brother was a spokesperson for the Protonic Sciences Cooperative, that is part of the Committee on Urban Lands. Monday, at 4:35 pm, when he was returning to who neighborhood after purchasing some construction materials, was approached by two people who without saying a word shot him three times”, said Nelida Teran Briceno, sister of the deceased.

“Arquimedes was a graduate of Mision Vuelvan Caracas in electrical work, father of 3 children and an excellent friend. Under is command were 54 people, some of whom were waiting for the materials (cement, sand, ceramics, and cinder blocks) right when he was murdered” said a neighbor.

In the view of Nelida Teran, the death of her brother was a settling of scores, because according to her because the Land Committee had declared war on the criminals in the area.

The witnesses to the event have incriminated two individuals who have terrorized the neighborhood whose aliases are “Jhonatan” and “Carlitos”.

The neighbors expressed their desire that the Metropolitan Police leave the area. “Here the police are the primary accomplices of the criminals. We are tired of seeing them selling them turf to the drug dealers and selling contraband liquor. We want a more effective group like the National Guard,” said another of the women present at the demonstration.

Crime is definitely the one great issue that the current government has been unable to deal with in any meaningful way. More than 9,000 Venezuelans are murdered each year. While the murder rate was flat in 2005 that is hardly an accomplishment to be proud of when it is so high.

Despite several high profile initiatives and pro-Chavez political leaders now having control over virtually all police forces there seems to be lacking either the ideas or the will to effectively combat crime. Further it is interesting that the protesters mentioned in the article see the main police force in Caracas as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Maybe they should fire the entire force and start a “Mission Policia” or “Mission Seguridad” to replace them with people who will fight criminals, not become partners with them.

In any event, it would be nice if someone found a solution to this problem soon. This bloodletting got old a long time ago.


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