Venezuela: Migrant Crisis Triggers Decline in Murder Rate

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The murder rate in Venezuela fell over the course of 2018 after many violent criminals joined the millions of people fleeing the crisis-stricken country, according to a report from the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV) published Thursday.

In its annual report, the OVV found that Venezuela still has the world’s highest murder rate of 81.4 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, with a total of 23,047 violent deaths. A staggering 7,523 of these killings (32.6 percent) were classified as “resistance to authority,” meaning government forces loyal to Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime committed them.  There were also a confirmed 10,422 homicides, while a further 5,102 deaths are still being invested.

“The violence presents new faces, impoverishment and police lethality, marked by extrajudicial actions. In addition, crime arises with force in rural areas, typically where there is food,” explained the director of the OVV, Roberto Briceño León, adding that the country is still experiencing an “epidemic of violence.”

Some of Venezuela’s most violent states include Aragua, with a murder rate of 168, followed by Miranda (124), Bolívar (107), Distrito Capital/Caracas (100), and Sucre (97). In October, a similar study by the OVV determined that one child was murdered every eight hours last year, noting that violence perpetrated by criminal gangs “has no limits” and affects children “of all ages and environments, families, communities and schools.”

The overall homicide rate has fallen from highs of 89 in 2017 and 92 the year before, something which Briceño attributed to evidence that many violent criminals are leaving the country.

“The majority of the Venezuelans who emigrate are honest people who have been forced to look for work elsewhere, but many criminals are among them,” he explained.

Around three million people have fled Venezuela in recent years, often in need of both economic and humanitarian assistance. According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, an estimated 8.2 million Venezuelans will leave the country within the next three years, noting that “people whose minimum caloric needs cannot be met under these dynamics will eventually be forced to migrate.”

The Maduro regime continues to deny the existence of such widespread violence and criminal activity, accusing NGO’s such as the OVV of exaggerating the figures to destabilize his government. Venezuelan officials in 2015 placed the official national murder rate at 58 per 100,000 people, making it still one of the most dangerous countries on earth. The regime has refused to publish official statistics since then.
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