Venezuela registered 19,133 murders in 2009, which places the rate of homicides in the country at 75 for every 100,000 inhabitants, according to a study by the National Statistics Institute, or INE, cited Friday by the press.
Capital daily El Nacional published a synopsis of results of a survey conducted between August and November 2009 by the INE at the request of the office of the vice president.
The newspaper compared the INE finding that homicide rate in Venezuela was 75 for every 100,000 inhabitants with strife-torn Colombia’s 32 for every 100,000, and Mexico’s 8 for every 100,000 inhabitants, which means that the US neighbour drug-war has claimed fewer lives.
If the figures are correct it also means Venezuela is even more dangerous than Iraq which with a similar population registered 4.644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009.
Nearly 80% of last year’s murders in Venezuela were committed with firearms, according to INE data. The document adds that more than four-fifths of victims belonged to the poorest sectors of society.
The Venezuelan court that banned publication for a month of “photos, news and advertising” of violence after two dailies featured an image of bloody, naked bodies at the capital morgue, scrapped the restrictions for all media outlets except those newspapers.
The two anti-government publications at the centre of the issue, El Nacional and Tal Cual, remain subject to some limits, the legal counsel of the National Ombud’s Office, Larry Davoe, said Thursday night on state television.
El Nacional, which was the first to publish the controversial photo of the morgue, can resume reporting on crime, but is barred from using images of violence.
“But the (complete ban on crime coverage) remains in place for Tal Cual,” Davoe said, because the daily, “heedless of public rejection, published the photo again” days after it first appeared in El Nacional.
El Nacional published the morgue photo last Friday, while Tal Cual came out with it on Monday, both for the purpose of complaining about President Hugo Chavez’s “irresponsible” handling of the fight against crime.
Chavez said that publication of the controversial photo of bodies in the morgue was part of a “conspiracy” being developed against the government by opposition sectors as part of a campaign aimed at next month’s legislative elections.