Thursday, 7 June 2012

Venezuela's murder in perspective

Some people are discovering the wheel about crime in Venezuela. I have written previously a little bit about the topic. Here I wanted to add one extra reference. 

Venezuelans and some foreign historians have a problem in understanding long-time developments. Some Venezuelans with authoritarian tendencies tend to become nostalgic about Pérez Jiménez's dictatorship because of low crime levels back then. I am not sure about how "normal violent crime" was then: even if I have heard elderly in my family talking about how safe it was at night, how people would not lock their doors, I have no data. Of course, Pérez Jiménez did get  a lot of people tortured and murdered - a lot of them socialists, even if not all. The self-styled "socialist" Chávez, who has publicly shown his admiration for Pérez Jiménez, got elected, among other reasons, because some silly people thought he would bring back that "peaceful time". 

In some history books supporting Chávez we read as one of the boldest criticisms that "Chávez probably hasn't been able to manage the crime issue". They say crime levels before Chávez had dramatically increased. Was it so? How was the general development, really? 

I haven't been able to find murder rates for many periods of time, but I found some numbers about crime in 1911-1913. If you read Spanish, you can take a look at the document here, specially at the bottom. I translate a fragment:

Until the sixties, the murder rate and the amount of wounded were considerably higher in rural areas and they kept being very high until the seventies (Gómez Grillo, 1979). From then on, violent crime has dropped in the rural areas to increase in the urban ones. 

That is interesting.

I also have detailed information from 1995 on. My guess is that crime got to a historical minimum in the seventies, started to rise considerably in the early nineties and was going to stabilize about the time our current caudillo got elected. As soon as I can, I will try to find some hard data for the sixties and seventies. And then we can start bringing up a few more hypothesis and possible solutions.

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