…por ahora; there are still ten months left in the year.
A total of 65 persons were murdered in Caracas during the 60 hours between 6 p.m. on Friday, 27 February and 6 a.m. on Monday, 2 March, reports El Universal. Preliminary police reports indicate the majority were murdered during armed robberies.
During the month of February, the Bello Monte Morgue received “at least 449” corpses of murder victims, El Nacional reports, citing “unofficial” sources. That works out to an average of 16 murders per day in Caracas during February, or 5,840 homicides on an annualized basis.
The daily homicide rate in Caracas very likely will spike higher in coming months as the economy contracts sharply. A 5% GDP contraction plus inflation of at least 50% can be expected in 2009, resulting partly from a devaluation of the official BsF 2.15/$ exchange rate and sharp cuts in government infrastructure and social spending.
In fact, all of Venezuela will experience increased violent crime rates in 2009 including more homicides, armed robberies, home invasions and kidnappings. But don’t expect an effective response from the Chavez regime. All of the country’s police forces are undermanned, underequipped and vastly outgunned by Venezuela’s violent criminal underworld.
Increasingly, violent crime gangs are also embracing (and declaring) their support for the Chavez regime’s Bolivarian revolution, seeking the cover/protection of the state including financial/material state support.
One anecdote to illustrate what the police are up against:
A group of 8-10 CICPC detectives armed with semi-automatic handguns and shotguns tried to arrest a suspect in the Caracas barrio of La Vega during January. As soon as the CICPC cops set foot inside La Vega, one of the oldest barrios in the city, they came under a withering hail of automatic gunfire from all sides. A CICPC detective in the group tells Caracas Gringo the shooters had “at least two FAL (assault rifles) with telescopic sights and a machine gun.”
Military assault rifles with telescopic sights…and a machine gun?
The CICPC detectives were pinned down by the gunfire, and called in support, our CICPC source says. Within an hour close to 80 CICPC, PoliCaracas and Metropolitan Police were at the gunfight in La Vega. Reportedly some National Guard troops also arrived on site. And what results this all this police firepower achieve? The hail of bullets fired at the security forces increased, and continued until the cops abandoned La Vega. The suspect sought by the CICPC was never arrested.
Police officials with PoliCaracas (Libertador) and PoliSucre (Petare) tell Caracas Gringo the January 2009 gunfight in La Vega described by our CICPC source is “el pan nuestro de todos los dias.”
The “barrios” of Caracas are owned by the armed crime and political gangs who rob and murder at will. The cops do not go into the barrios unless they absolutely have to, and then only with massive displays of force.
On any day of the week one can drive around the perimeters of Petare and see heavily armed cops and National Guard troops posted at some locations, like the Alcabala and La Bombilla “barrios” directly behind the Makro hypermarket in La Urbina.
However, these security forces never venture into the barrios whose residents they are supposed to protect, and if gunfire is directed their way by the gangbangers in the hills above checkpoints, the security forces leave the area.
Death rules the night in Caracas. At sunrise on 1 March, police found 10 corpses littering the streets of Petare (Sucre) and various barrios in western Caracas (Libertador).
Even the cops don’t stop at night in some parts of Caracas. Tragic anecdote: A good friend lost his 18-year-old son at 3 a.m. on 24 December when carjackers shot him while trying to steal his pickup truck. Only a year earlier, this boy had survived a previous carjacking in which he was shot through the neck in Las Mercedes.
As our friend’s son lay dying in the street on 24 December, three PoliSucre police patrol vehicles drove past the crime scene without slowing, and despite the efforts of the boy’s older brother and friends to flag down the cops.
Yet this same PoliSucre police force, every 15th and 30th of the month (quincena day), set up traffic checkpoints throughout their district to stop drivers caught speaking on their cell phones, making illegal turns, etc.
The typical PoliSucre traffic stop on a payday is simply a vulgar extortion racket that costs unlucky individual drivers between BsF.10-100 depending on the “severity” of the alleged offense and the driver’s haggling skills.
PoliCaracas and Metropolitan Police (PM) are even more corrupt than PoliSucre. Both police forces have been infiltrated by members of groups like the Tupamaros, and during the municipal misrule of Juan Barreto and Freddy Bernal PoliCaracas and PM also hired hundreds of new “officers” with criminal pasts including homicide and armed robbery.
The point being: violent crime in Caracas will worsen very significantly during the rest of 2009, and the government will be completely unable to control the crime tsunami in Venezuela’s capital because the cops are desperately lacking in manpower, firepower, command/control excellence, and the political support/commitment of the government.