Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Job one 

As I mentioned in the wake of the defeat of the constitutional reform Chavez would do well to spend some time now simply governing and fixing some festering problems. One of the first problems to get Chavez's attention should be crime.


Well look at this:

Now before you laugh thinking "these fools who couldn't have been more wrong on the vote two weeks ago?" remember most everyone else got that vote wrong too. Further, this is only the last in a long line of polls showing that crime is far and away the number one concern of Venezuelans.

And it makes perfect sense. Their standard of living is way up, the economy is booming, health care is much improved, the country isn't at war with anyone, and even the recent vote went well. Yet virtually everyone in Venezuela has been personally effected by crime or knows someone who has in recent years. As anyone who reads newspapers like Ultimas Noticias (a pro-government paper) knows there is a daily bloodbath in cities throughout Venezuela.

Today, Ultimas Noticias reported some numbers from the respected Venezuelan Human Rights organization Provea that quantify exactly how bad that blood bath is.

Between January and September of 2007 9,567 Venezuelans have been murdered. This comes to nearly 13,000 annually.

This represents an increase of 10.28% from the same period in 2006 when 8,675 were murdered.

Just for sake of comparison the United States, which has a significant crime problem of its own and a population of more than 10 times the size of Venezuela's, had less than 17,000 murders in 2005.

Clearly Venezuela has a very, very big problem. Also, the responsibility for this problem clearly falls to the pro-Chavez forces as they control the large majority of law enforcement forces in the country.

Further, Venezuela's bad numbers don't even include deaths classified as "undetermined" and the stunning 1,153 people who died "resisting authorities".

How can this be dealt with? There probably isn't one solution. Though given that Venezuela has about 20,000 people in prison with the above murder rate it is safe to say there are plenty of murderers freely walking Venezuela's streets maybe getting them off the streets would be a good idea. Further, maybe some of the first real power that could be given to the community councils would be to give them control over Venezuela's notoriously corrupt and inefficient police forces.

Regardless, it is clear Chavez needs to spend some time in the most effected communities discussing with people how this can be solved. Then he probably needs to lock himself in a room with his advisers and not come out until they have a plan in hand. Too many lives are being destroyed for this problem to go unsolved any longer.

And if that isn't reason enough to do something about it I'm sure he can figure out the impact this constant worsening of crime is likely to have on his poll numbers.


Here are the murder numbers by State 2007 versus 2006:


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