When street crime and violence stares you in the face in Venezuela

October 11, 2010

Crime statistics are mostly treated like that: just numbers. Only today the Head of the new National Police began using Twitter to argue whether crime had gone down by one number or another. What we do know is that in the eleven years of Chavez’ Presidency, homicides have triples, give or take 10%. Crime and murder have simply gotten out of hand for the Government and arguing about ten percent more or less is not only frivolous, but simply offensive.

As crime has increased, not only does it get closer to you, but your self-imposed curfew grows and gets earlier. Your paranoia increases.

In the last four weeks, two people in my office have had attempts to kidnap them. The first one a month ago, four armed gunmen blocked his path forced them off the road and tried to take them away. Somehow, he managed to get the car out and escape in it.

This weekend it happened again, except that before the whole thing was over, one of my dearest people had been shot a few times, whether it was three bullets or five, it is unclear and it is simply another irrelevant statistic. What is relevant is that it is getting closer, it had to happen, it is not only the increased crime but it’s the profile, as I showed on August 29th. , it is either the poor or the the well to do that have the highest probability of being victims.

Somehow, three or five bullets missed critical areas, there was loss of blood, fingers were shattered, but everything else is fine. He came that close.

So did we. We came that close to the unimaginable. To the unexplainable. To the unthinkable.  To that which hits our basic humanity and makes you feel like wrapping yourself in a cocoon and not come out for days.

But instead you celebrate, you celebrate life, you celebrate survival. You celebrate that we all, somehow, beat the odds once again.

But those responsible for it are still in charge, untouched  and careless about the true human tragedy that touches thousands of Venezuelans every week.

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28 Responses to “When street crime and violence stares you in the face in Venezuela”

  1. Ira Says:

    Wow. Roy’s and Fire’s stories are unbelievable. (Plus the others.)

    My heart and best wishes are with all of you having to live under this misery and fear.

  2. firepigette Says:

    The year I left Venezuela in 2002, my daughter lost 7 friends to murder on the street, and lost many more to cocaine addiction.The corner Kiosco in Caurimare sold cocaine to kids and dared everyone to tell on him.

    My coworkers at school were being car jacked on a weekly basis.One’s father was murdered, and all of us had been assaulted at one time or another during the year.

    My next door neighbors were held at gun point by their maids and their friends, and one of them had a heart attack because of it.

    I had some rich students whose parents were preparing them to move to the US.One of them lived in a mansion in Cerro Verde with 2 swimming pools and a raquet ball court, tennis courts, and about 5 acres of prime land.They had to leave Venezuela because they had been kidnapped for ransom 3 times.Their house was guarded by mean rottweilers who scared the dickens out of me every time I showed up for classes and 2 armed guards…… but in the end malandros showed up one day when I wasn’t there and shot the dogs and killed the guards and held the family for ransom again.

    How can anyone sane say they are having fun and enjoying Venezuela with this kind of misery and terror, even IF nothing has happened to them YET?

    Crazy !

  3. Roy Says:

    Last night, a friend of mine was robbed coming while coming back home. Two men attacked him in front of his door. One held him at gunpoint on the sofa while the other searched the house for cash. This is now the third time this year he has been robbed!

    Another friend was robbed on Friday last week in the parking lot of a small strip mall. A car stopped in front of her in the parking lot, a man left the car and put a pistol to her head until she gave up her purse. This was in broad daylight.

    Another young man I know lost Bs. 8,000 (~US$1,000) when his trusted employee simply disappeared with the money.

    These three examples are things that have happened to people I know personally only in the last week! If I were to try and recount everything that has happened to people I know in the last year, I would be recalling and writing for quite some time.

    There is simply no one in Venezuela that cannot tell you similar stories. Crime affects every one of us and it is up close and very personal.

  4. firepigette Says:

    also should add:

    People in Venezuela often have a sense of the arbitrariness of authority which then allows them to perceive the present situation as basically the same thing but just worse.They also see the tyranny of authoritarianism as normal and unchangeable in any basic way.And lastly because of traditions and parental style governments, people give up personal power to authorities.This is called paternalistic government.

    You see many Venezuelans actually perceive giving away free money instead of creating a just society in terms of opportunities and protection as somehow more moral than its inverse….so until this changes we are stuck with a authoritarianism/paternalistic structure.

  5. firepigette Says:

    Loroferoz,

    “It depends on what will be unbearable, pain fit to force action, for the general population.”

    I am beginning to think that most Venezuelans have unlimited tolerance of crime and evil, because it seems ingrained in them to think that reacting in an ugly way is unacceptable( or in other words too dangerous).This comes from a long cultural history of internalizing the “correct” way to behave under tyranny( Spanish Authoritarianism, slavery and indigenous tribal thinking).

    People feel a kind of odd self righteousness when they say:

    “Hay que morir callado”

  6. loroferoz Says:

    Saying that the situation is unbearable and tragic and that the situations you describe are all too familiar would be just that, repetition.

    My take on it is that Venezuelan society is disintegrating in every sense I can think of.

    Querying and complaining to the government, which is also disintegrating is useless. It’s supporters and officials are in denial, delusional or are serious nut jobs who believe that this is the dismantling of the bourgeois state. Quite despicable attitudes, all of them.

    I am seriously on the side of civil liberties, but I cannot see how a disaster in this scale will be stemmed by a justice system, police and courts that, to summarize, are not there.

    The reaction, if there is one to all of this, will be ugly, much more decisive than just punishment voting and a 2% points difference in elections. The alternative is an indefinite continuation of the tragedy. It depends on what will be unbearable, pain fit to force action, for the general population.

    Not enticing anyway, to stay in Venezuela or to come for a visit. Maybe in 20 years. If all goes well.

  7. David Says:

    Truly sorry to see these senseless crimes happen over and over again.
    The government needs a brain scan.

  8. Kepler Says:

    Gibson, why don’t you just piss off?

    It is easy for you to talk whatever you want.


  9. […] self-imposed curfew grows and gets earlier. Your paranoia increases” explains Miguel Octavio from The Devil’s Excrement, in the post “When street crime and violence stares at you in the face in […]

  10. Ira Says:

    My nephew was shot a few months ago around 5PM in the Sabana Grande area, and thankfully, nothing critical.

    But every day, I expect to hear my wife crying from the other room because she just got a call telling her about something very serious and bad that happened.

    One of my brothers-in-law (my wife’s sister’s husband) was former military, and hated Chavez from day one. He retired before the purges, because he saw what was coming, but he stays because he refuses to accept that this has all happened to the country, and he wants to be there to help turn things around.

  11. odef007 Says:

    I am sorry for your friend’s mo. I am sorry you’re in a cocoon right now. I understand the reaction … I unfortunately understand the emotion taking you there.
    It has to get better. It has to get better for all the “ metodex “
    in Ve.
    This is a spiral most feel after an election hype. The democratic
    hearts felt they would wake up on the 27th and there would be a
    calm in the country. Unfortunately until January it may just
    get worse. We can all take comfort knowing that there are many
    good people in and out of Ve working towards the betterment of
    the country. It is going to happen, it will not be detained. One
    day at a time. May the heavens be with you all.

  12. metodex Says:

    I feel envy of all you people that have left the country. Im 22 when i graduate i wanna take my future wife and me outta here.But i guess the reality is that were gonna need a LOT of money.Finding a job, getting the visas or whatever papers you need to get out and there are so many things to do that makes ou wanna blow your brains with a shotgun. Is there an easy way to get shit done here in Vzla? A lot of relatively close people i know have already left and it just seems so easy for them.

  13. deananash Says:

    Get out while you can and leave the Chavistas to rot in their own, specially created hell.

    For those of you who can’t get out, by all means, flee the cities and head to the hills. Arm yourselves. Learn to farm. Bury barrels of fresh water. And I mean LOTS. And make sure that you can collect rainwater to replenish them.

    EXTREME? You bet. Extreme times call for extreme measures. In the end, your nice car or apartment are worthless if you’re lying in a pool of blood.

  14. megaescualidus Says:

    It is true. Violent crime is happening more and more often, all over the territory. Yes, Caracas may be spearheading violent crime horrific statistics, but “el interior” is following closely. In fact, the last few violent incidents we know about have happened to people we (my wife and myself) know in “el interior”, not in Caracas. In one case one entire family was kidnapped in their own house in San Cristobal. A similar case happened to another family we know in Punto Fijo. In these two cases “nada que lamentar” happened at the end, but everybody involved (specially the kids) were quite traumatized. A third more tragic case happened to a friend’s brother who was working in his bosses’ farm in Guarico when he and his fellow co-workers were assaulted at gun point. Unfortunately this young man (a normal, healthy man prior to the “accident”) has now boths legs paralized.

    Miguel, whoever had the misfortune to go thru such a traumatic experience, I hope he/she is doing well.

  15. GB Says:

    A 22 year old cousin of my wife was murdered about 5 or 6 months ago in Puerto Ordaz. Shot 9 times at pointblank range. The killer still runs free as far as I know.

  16. paul Says:

    It makes me nervous to read this and hope we can get our last two close relatives out soon. My wife’s cousin died in a hail of assault rifle bullets in Valencia a few months ago. 2 cousins murdered in the last 8 years. I was kidnapped, my wife was mugged twice, friends, assaulted, murdered, on and on it goes.Bye bye Venezuela.

  17. Gordo Says:

    My wife’s nephew was murdered last week in Porto Ordaz. He was shot over thirty times! A college student working part-time to support his mother. The family is devastated.

  18. Humberto Says:

    My mother (over 70 in age) was assaulted by three armed and masked men in her own house during the noon hours. Yesterday my cousin and her son were assaulted, again in their own house. My brother has survived his third attempted kidnapping but his business has been less fortunate and has been sacked several times. He is now setting-up shop in Panama where his entrepreneurial drive and business talents will benefit Panamanians. Seems to me a better deal than the option of staying in Venezuela, where the beneficiaries are simply criminals.

    In the past, I would send my Jersey-girl daughter to visit her Grandmother and Venezuelan friends and relatives, at least twice a year. No more.

    If chavistas want to delude themselves in the myth of New York streets being less safe than Caracas or any other Venezuelan city, let them drink that Kool-Aid. Unfortunately, unless they are careful, criminals will not spare them either.

  19. island canuck Says:

    You can’t convert fanatics.

    They’ll only change when some personal shock makes them lose the faith.

  20. firepigette Says:

    I almost spit in a Chavista’s face recently.He was an older man, a nuclear scientist and a military guy who is a faithful supporter of Chavez;he even led radio station close- downs.

    I talked with him extensively one day, and found him to be quite mentally deficient is many ways.His verbal intelligence was quite lacking.He asked my daughter when she was returning to Venezuela because life was so much nicer there than here in the US.She replied: never, because there is too much crime.

    He had the cynicism to say that crime was NOT high and that HE walked the streets quite safely.

    This kind of evil is common in Venezuela.They fit quite nicely with the come- flores who have been apologizing for them the last umpteen years.

  21. BB Says:

    With the above statement I refer to the people “in charge”.

  22. BB Says:

    Until it hits one of them and then all hell will break loose and extreme undemocratic measure will be taken.

  23. firepigette Says:

    Sorry this is happening to all.

    The strange is that so many friends and family I speak to on the phone tell me it’s about the same as it was, and that they still enjoy life in Venezuela.How can we enjoy life with people dying at this rate?

    I guess this is the main reason the problem continues, because if people were truly upset and refused to take it anymore, something would have to give.They would leave or they would be fighting like hell.

    I left Venezuela in 2002 for this reason.I refused to play Russian Roulette with my daughter’s life.

    Caracas has ALWAYS been a dangerous city, but from what I here it is now UNACCEPTABLE.

  24. Roger Says:

    When Caracas is running a close second to Cd Juarez its hard to imagine that some of this is not drug or political gang related. Uncontroled street crime just clouds the real issues.


  25. […] curfew grows and gets earlier. Your paranoia increases” explains Miguel Octavio from The Devil's Excrement, in the post “When street crime and violence stares at you in the face in […]

  26. Tom Says:

    That is awful, the reality of such things is always difficult to concieve. Did both of these things happen in Caracas, or other parts of the country. I have heard any stories that bad here in San Cristobal, but I am still wondering if I really should be here.

  27. Dillis Says:

    A well known businessman, and somebody I met not long ago, was killed in an attempted kidnapping here in Margarita a few days ago. Our next door neighbour was beaten up and then escaped another attempted kidnapping in Rattan Plaza last weekend.

    Margarita is no safer than Caracas now, and that is reflected in the huge drop in international tourism here this year. You cannot play Russian roulette with your life anymore – the main reason I am thinking to leave Venezuela next year…

  28. liz Says:

    Miguel,
    so sorry about it, I read some bits of this piece of news during the weekend. But did not know how terrible it was.
    Un abrazo vale.


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