Venezuela violence hit record levels in 2015; Colombia murders lowest in 20 years
The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV) has released a report which estimates that Venezuela has had a record number of violent deaths this year with 27,875 cases, putting the Caribbean country among one of the most violent in the region.
According to the OVV, the homicide rate is comparable only to that of El Salvador, which also had a significant increase this year.
The Venezualan rate of 90 deaths per 100,000 of the population is equivalent to 76 violent deaths every day, or three people every hour.
“The institutional destruction that the country continues to suffer from is the most significant explanatory factor in the sustained increase in violence and crime. The institutions of society, in terms of social life based on trust and governed by rules and laws, is diluted more and more each time to the arbitrary power and the predominance of social relations based on the use of force and weapons,” concludes the investigation of OVV, in which seven universities are involved.
According to the report, there are six factors that explain the increase in violence in Venezuela this year.
Among them, there is a greater presence of organized crime, further deterioration of the security of the state and increasing “privatization of security”.
On this last point it explains that in Venezuela “a process of privatization of security has occurred,” in which individuals assume security duties because of “abandonment” of state protection and the absence of punishment.
This phenomenon applies to “citizens running lynchings or contract killers, as police or military officials themselves, who have responded to extrajudicial executions,” the statement said.
The report draws attention to the Venezuelan security operation People’s Liberation Operation (PLO), implemented this year and is deploying a large number of law enforcement and military forces in areas considered “violent” to perform searches, arrests and seizures and has left several dead.
“There has been a repressive militarization of security, both in leadership positions and the type of action taken (…) The consequences of the PLO does not point to a decline in violence in society, but, on the contrary, an increase,” according to the report.
Murder rates in Colombia have been the lowest in 20 years, according to forensic records.
For the third consecutive year, the number of murders fell to levels comparable to those of 1985, when the country began to feel the violence of narco-terrorism, according to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
Although the figure is not confirmed, the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences confirmed that the projection indicates that at the end of 2015 there were fewer homicides than in 2014.
“2015 ends with an estimate of 10,500 homicides,” said Carlos Valdes, director of Legal Medicine.
Although the figure is consolidated, Valdes said that “the exact number of homicides ranges between 10,509 and 11,000.
Looking at the rates by city, the ones where most murders were reduced were Medellin and Cali, which were for years the capitals of violence in America.
Medellin’s achievements are impressive with 733 homicides, 197 less than last year. The capital of Antioquia recorded 20 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, 5 points below the national average.
Latin Correspondent | by Steven James Grattan