Homicides in Venezuela have quadrupled during President Hugo Chavez’s 11 years in power, with two people murdered every hour, according to new figures from a non-governmental organization.
The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), whose data is widely followed in the absence of official statistics, said the South American nation has one of the highest crime rates on the continent, with 54 homicides per 100,000 citizens in 2009.
That rate is only surpassed in Latin America by El Salvador where 70 in every 100,000 citizens were murdered last year, the OVV said, citing official statistics from that country.
Crime repeatedly comes first on Venezuelans’ list of worries. It has also begun to drag on Chavez’s traditionally high approval ratings as well as scare tourists who come to Venezuela.
“The problem is not so much the criminals, but rather the government’s inaction and lack of policies,” OVV director Roberto Briceno Leon told Reuters.
Too bad Chavez is more interested in cracking down on dissidents than he is on cracking down on criminals.