The new figures leave President Nicolas Maduro's country behind only El Salvador. Honduras comes in third but way behind the front runners. The Venezuelan Observatory on Violence (OVV) NGO announced that 28,479 killings over the course of the year is tantamount to 91.8 such deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
There is no denying that homicides and other violent crimes have increased in Venezuela throughout 2016 and the OVV partly blames that fact on the economic crisis.
El Salvador is the most violent place in the world where a war is not taking place with a murder rate of 103 per 100,000, while Honduras records 59 murders per 100,000.
Venezuela’s state attorney, Luisa Ortega Díaz, had put the country’s murder rate at 58.1 for every 100,000 inhabitants, but OVV leader Roberto Briceño León said that his organization had calculated its figures on regional observatories, press reports, primary data from public officials working in the justice system, and other “scientific” sources.
Of the total number of violent deaths, 18,230 were recorded by the justice system, while 4,968 were the result of bullet wounds, which were registered as ongoing “investigations,” while 5,281 involved resistance to the authorities.
Barely nine people are detained for every 100 murders, says the OVV.
The OVV estimates that Caracas is 14 times more violent than Sao Paulo in Brazil, 10 times more so than Bogota, the capital of Colombia, and 15 times more so than Mexico City.
The OVV’s report says that there are up to four killings each week in the country involving more than three victims. It adds that there has been a sharp increase in crimes related to hunger, with those responsible looking for food. It adds that the violence has escalated this year through the use of high-caliber weapons by both police and criminals.
Briceño attributes this process to “the destruction of institutions and the rules of the game,” by the Maduro régime. “The partisanship of the justice system, its attempts to control the legislative branch and the blocking of electoral mechanisms have created tension,” he said.
At the same time, there was a “generalized impoverishment of society,” a lack of foodstuffs, and deficient basic services, all of which increased unrest and violence in 2016. As a result, said the OVV, there were at least 120 lynchings, along with paid killings at the rate of up to four a week.
Briceño León says that these factors have created a sensation of fear that has prompted many people not to leave their homes after dark, while shopkeepers often close their premises early to avoid robberies or looting. At the same time, violence has led a growing number of people, many of them the children or grandchildren of immigrants, to emigrate. Spain, Colombia and Italy are said to be the main destinations.
The OVV added that this year had also registered an increase in the numbers of police officers resigning due to “victimization,” low salaries and lack of protection from criminals, who seem to enjoy increasing impunity.