A decade and a half of socialist repression and months of protests with seemingly no end have catapulted Venezuela to the top of the list of the world’s most dangerous nations. According to a study by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Venezuela is surpassed only by Honduras in highest peacetime murder rates in the world.
Venezuela experienced 53.7 murders per every 100,000 residents in the nation in 2013, second only to Honduras, where 90.4 people for every 100,000 were murdered. Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa dominate the list of most violent nations– no country outside those two regions made the top ten list, and only Swaziland and South Africa brought Africa onto the list. As the study only examines countries that are not currently engaging in war, countries with high murder rates that are considered to be in wartime like Syria or Afghanistan do not make the list. Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala, respectively, round out the top five.
The nations suffering from the highest murder rates in other regions of the world did not have rates anywhere near as large as those in Latin America. Russia, which has the highest murder rate in Eastern Europe, saw 9.2 murders per 100,000 residents, while its counterpart in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, saw 8.8.
Trends in South America seem to indicate that some nations on the list are exhibiting hope of lowering their murder rates. Colombia, #10 on the list, has seen its murder rate decrease for years since the tenure of President Álvaro Uribe. Venezuela, meanwhile, is the only country in South America with a consistently increasing homicide rate since 1995. Hugo Chávez took power in 1999, but staged a failed coup attempt in 1992.
As the death rates for unarmed protesters at the hands of National Guard soldiers increases with every passing day since the current wave of protests began in February, President Nicolás Maduro has been outwardly calling for peace talks between the government and more left-wing elements of the opposition. Maduro stated on Thursday that there would be “no pact” between the opposition and the government, however, which would render the talks entirely purposeless.
The death toll in Venezuela rose this week to 41, and the nation was riveted by a new crime: the disappearance of Globovision journalist Nairobi Pinto. Pinto was abducted from her home by masked gunmen and not heard from since, and kidnappers have not called the family asking for a ransom. Speaking to Argentine outlet Infobae, a close friend of Pinto’s said Pinto was sympathetic to the opposition, and she had no doubt that Pinto had been kidnapped “for political reasons.”