Venezuela is setting new hemispheric records this year in terms of personal insecurity.
In 2008 there were 537 kidnappings for ransom involving lengthy periods of captivity, and over 14,400 homicides nationally, according to official data compiled by the government and private NGO’s.
The Observatorio Venezolano de la Violencia (OVV) NGO says Venezuela had 50 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2008, compared with a world average of 8.8 violent deaths per 100,000 persons.
The kidnapping data for 2008 does not include over 8,500 “express abductions” in which victims are held only a few hours while the kidnappers negotiate ransoms ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
But only mid-way through 2009, Venezuela is trending towards a new full-year record of some 900 kidnappings and almost 20,000 homicides, based on official crime data for the first five months of the year.
Some private crime experts think the number of express abductions nationally will easily top 10,000 in 2009.
Over 40% of the reported homicides this year will occur within the Greater Caracas Metropolitan Area. Over half of the express abductions will happen in Caracas too.
Many of the murders and express abductions will be committed by cops.
The police forces with the highest percentage of killers, kidnappers and armed robbers are Libertador Municipality’s PoliCaracas and the Metropolitan Police (PM).
This is because President Hugo Chavez, through acolytes like current Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez and his predecessor, Freddy Bernal, are guilty of consciously facilitating and/or deliberately recruiting criminals into PoliCaracas.
When Chavez intervened the PM after the April 2002 political violence, he gave the PM’s top command to the Tupamaros, a Marxist militant group which has many members reputedly involved in drug trafficking, armed robberies and contract killings (sicariatos), though its chieftain Jose Pinto insists the Tupamaros are just a peaceful (albeit heavily armed) people’s movement.
Over a week ago, psychologist Ana Matilde Raymondi was shot and killed by four PoliCaracas officials in plainclothes. The rogue cops initially tried to report the killing as the result of a “confrontation” with armed criminals. But the truth was the cops apparently tried to hijack Raymondi’s vehicle, and possibly kidnap her too. Raymondi was killed while trying to flee from what she obviously perceived as a kidnapping or robbery attempt against her.
Since January 2008 the Attorney General of the Republic has processed 755 homicide cases nationally in which killer cops are the perpetrators, including 72 homicides in Caracas in which 37 PM officers have been charged with murder.
But Venezuela’s criminal cops get a pass. Between 1 January 2009 and 31 March 2009, a total of 10,858 separate criminal investigations have been opened nationally against cops, but as of 31 March 2009 only 22 convictions had been secured, or 0.20%.
In effect, over nine out of every ten cops in Venezuela charged with a crime including murder and kidnapping get away with it.