The Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia (Venezuelan Violence Watch, OVV) issued its yearly report today tracking homicide in the country. The update came via a Twitter thread on the organization’s account.
According to the NGO, so far in 2019 there have been 16,506 homicides, placing the homicide rate of the country at 60.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. If accurate, the figure would place Venezuela among the countries with the highest homicide rates.
For comparison, El Salvador had the highest homicide rates in 2017, with 61.80 per 100,000. That same year, Brazil’s homicide rate was 30.5, Colombia’s 24.90, Mexico’s was 24.80, and Canada’s 1.80.
According to the OVV, 5,286 of the homicides this year were the result of “resisting authority”, indicating that the victims were killed in interactions with authorities like the police or the National Guard. The NGO also tallied 6,588 homicides carried out by “delinquents”, while the attribution of the rest were yet to be determined.
Below, a ranking of the states with the highest homicide rates for 2019, indicated in the red boxes. Miranda state led the country with a rate of 87 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the Capital District (Caracas) reached a rate of 76 per 100,000:
The NGO also provided a per-state overview of its figures. In Caracas, the OVV found that 85% of all homicide victims were male, that 71% were between the ages of 15 and 39, and that 36% of the homicides occurred while the victim was resisting a robbery:
In 2018, the OVV tallied 23,047 homicides. Paradoxically, the OVV report notes that the reduction in homicides from 2018 is the result of the worsening socio-economic situation in the country:
The figures [for 2019] show an important reduction in the numbers and the rate of violent deaths, however, [sic] we do not believe that this is a result of an improvement in social conditions, but on the contrary, on the worsening of the quality of life and in the complex and widespread humanitarian crisis affecting the country.
The OVV goes on to propose three theories for the decrease in the homicide rate as a result of worsening conditions in Venezuela, which I have summarized below:
- Worsening economic conditions have led to a “drastic reduction in the opportunity for crime”, given that businesses have closed and people have been forced to migrate from Venezuela.
- Organized crime groups have moved from targeting individuals to the trafficking of “drugs, minerals or people”, and from petty crime like gas smuggling to “extorting businesses”.
- Individuals who might otherwise have committed homicides have also migrated from Venezuela.
The report only poses these theories as possible explanations for the reduction in homicides, and does not provide any evidence to substantiate them.
The full OVV report can be found here.
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