Secrets and Lies

In a way, the most remarkable thing about El Universal’s front page story on the murder rate today isn’t that 8,839 Venezuelans have been murdered so far this year, or that killings are running at the rate of two per hour now, or even that the police has contrived to reclasify more than half the violent deaths in Caracas as “death investigations” rather than murders.

No. The most remarkable thing about that story is that El Universal had to rely on anonymous sources inside the Judicial Police to leak them the numbers because, in Venezuela, the police no longer publishes murder statistics.

It’s important to see this in conjunction with Congressman Ramos’s revelations on Fonden spending – unwittingly disclosed by a government that’s spent years working to keep that information out of the public sphere.

We’re talking about rock-bottom basic numbers here, the kind of building-blocks to an informed public debate a democracy can’t really do without: How much of the public’s money does the government spend? How many people are getting murdered? Public information doesn’t get very much more basic than that.

It’s hard for me to fathom how a nation kept deliberately ignorant of such facts could imaginably be said to know enough to govern itself freely.

But these days, finding out how many people get killed or how much the government spends count as journalistic coups somehow.

16 thoughts on “Secrets and Lies

  1. It’s back to chavismo’s zookeeper mentality: no need for the animals to know the zoo problems, they just need to stay in their cages, thankful for the zookeepers’ leftovers.

    • I agree with the notion that it’s down right preposterous for the Venezuelan government to hide the important numbers just because they make them look bad.

      But the idea that gun control has anything to do with murder rates is down right retarded. Other than countries with active military and/or mafia-like organizations (which are immune to gun controls), very few countries have a proportion of homicides committed with firearms greater than 35%. If a person wants to kill another, the presence or absence of guns is completely irrelevant. Guns are useful as means of threatening others, but are very bad for actual killing unless you’re the kind of person who is already being chased by the police and doesn’t care about how noisy, easily detectable and easily trackable firearms are.

      The real effect of guns in a society is in petty crimes, especially robberies. It’s considerably harder to be a successful robber if you use a knife than if you use a gun. Not the same for murderers. How many serial killers have ever used guns? Does the term “Axe murderer” ring a bell for you?

      But you know what truly determines the amount of homicides (and general crime rates) in a society? Homogeneity. A society were everyone has the same race, same political and religious views, same social status, similar tastes, etc, has infinitely lower crime rates than a “melting pot” with dozens of different races, religions and political opinions mashed together. Even the most shallow look at the statistics will prove that beyond the shadow of a doubt.

      So should I expect you and Quico to start mouthing about “Race Control” as a means to reduce homicides anytime soon? I don’t think so.

      • Yeah, right…that’s why Somalia – the most homogenous place in Africa ethnically, religiously and linguistically- is such a safe place. That’s how the Yanomamö society everybody is hugging. Have you ever compared that to Ghana?
        What’s that about Lesotho versus Ghana?

        Britain used to be an incredibly dangerous place to travel 7 centuries ago. It was rather homogenous. Belarus has a higher crime rate than Belgium and by God, Belorussians are rather homogenous (even with their Polish minority and all) and Belgium is chock-a-block with foreigners, some pretty different. I am right now spending a couple of days in the MOST dangerous place of Belgium with some friends…you should see the murder rate.
        Crime in the seventies in the Soviet Union was rather scarce.
        Nicaragua’ melting pot is not as Ontario’s.

        • Crime has increased since Chávez is in power. The murder rate went from 19×100 thousand in 1998 to over 35×100000 in 2002 and now it is much higher.

          Poverty is not all, no matter how many times you read Les MIserables, as Chávez did.
          There is Bhuttan; there is Ghana, as I mentioned. There is Venezuela, where the average citizen has been better off for ages than either of those countries

  2. These numbers are even more drastic when you realize that they do not include deaths in police confrontations which must number in the 1000s.

    I also wonder if it includes prison deaths?

    I have never owned a gun however with the way things are going I’m seriously considering finding one. As a Canadian I have never been surrounded by so much death. Here in Margarita things really got bad about 5 years ago & have been going downhill ever since.

    • Nice! Send us the code and we’ll see about hosting.

      (One thing though: you can’t say “published by CICPC” – it was LEAKED by someone inside CICPC, not published by CICPC as an institution!)

  3. Done. You should just be able to download the html file from the link though. Else, I don’t know how to contact/spam/facebook you

  4. It’s worth remembering, as we lament the government’s deliberate policy of denying Venezuelan citizens information about how likely they are to be murdered in the next 12 months, that current ‘information’ (ie propaganda) minister Andrés Izarra (at the time merely the president of Telesur) found it thigh-slappingly funny (on CNN) that anyone would describe this country as more dangerous than Colombia and Mexico (not long before interior minister Tarek el Aissami confirmed in parliament that indeed it was, and by a LOT). But perhaps the most memorable line delivered by rizarrita in that stomach-churning performance was when he claimed not to have the statistics to hand because ‘I’m a journalist, not a policeman’. I must have missed Izarra’s subsequent apology, after el Aissami revealed that Venezuela’s murder rate was THREE AND A HALF TIMES that of Mexico in 2009, even by official figures. Anyone catch it?

  5. The fact that the media and the opposition have jointly failed to reach the Chavista voters with issues of this gravity is ultimately why Venezuela is so screwed.

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