Crime and Violence in Venezuela

Venezuela is now the most dangerous country in the world.

There are around 24,000 violent deaths a year – the highest murder rate in the world. Despite strict gun control laws, there are more than 15 million guns in the country, many in the hands of criminal gangs. Less than 2% of crimes are prosecuted.

Drug trafficking, kidnapping and robbery are everyday occurrences. Ordinary Venezuelans are terrified of going out at night or carrying valuables. According to a local student, “at the time it gets dark, you are totally alone. It’s dangerous.”

Armed men knock on car windows stuck and say, “Give me everything.” Mobile phones and jewellery are snatched from passing pedestrians. People are kidnapped whilst driving home at night, and ransoms are demanded from their families. No one is safe.

Even the security forces are afraid to go out in some areas. According to a ‘radiogram’ issued in November 2017 and obtained by el Nuevo Herald in Miami, Venezuelan soldiers have been ordered against traveling at night, using their mobile phones in their cars or showing their military IDs. From January to November 2017, 282 police, soldiers, guards and other security personnel were killed by criminals, many of them while off-duty.

Making it safely through the day in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, one of the world’s most dangerous cities, requires a careful mix of planning and precaution. As the Venezuelan economy has crumbled, rising crime has created what one local group called a “feeling of permanent and silent fear.”

Criminals are not the only culprits in Venezuela’s spiralling violence. 8,292 have been killed people by the police, the National Guard, the army and Venezuela’s version of the FBI [SEBIN], from 2015 through the first six months of 2017. These large-scale raids on the poorer areas of Venezuela are the government’s response to spiralling crime in the country. Former top prosecutor Zair Mundaray, now resident in Bogota, has claimed that these raids on impoverished and crime-ridden barrios are ‘training to control protesters’.