Yet Again: Crime

Britto Garcia argues that the media has been selective in what sort of crimes it reports, and looks at the motives behind this.


1. John Donne said: The death of anyone reduces me, because I am part of humanity; don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, they are tolling for you. The media campaigns know for whom they toll. They didn’t ring for the eleven people killed by armed squadrons whom Capriles Radonski incited on national television to come out into the street to “drain your rage”. They let the two hundred campesino leaders killed by hired killers go unnoticed, as well as the attempt on the life of Eduardo Saman. They finally toll the bells against the horrible crime perpetuated against a young couple and their small child.

2. What to do about the insecurity and crime? Define its size. All the discourse about violence is based on a study done by the INE [Venezuela’s National Statistics institute], the National Survey on Victimisation and Perception of Citizen Security 2009, from May 2010. It was just a survey about perception, not a real count of victims or bodies. Its results are disconcerting. On page 67 it adds up a “total number of reported crimes” of 21,132 in 2009. Page 68 registered 19,113 of them. How can 21,132 homicides cause just 19,113 victims? Perception inflates surveys, which swell perceptions, which at the same time, pad out the survey results. You can’t conduct surveys on oil production, on rainfall, nor number of homicides. In order to combat insecurity, the general attorney’s office, the Ombudsman’s office, the justice and internal affairs ministry, and other relevant organisations should unite forces to compile exact, objective, and verified data about the true number of homicides, which is very different to the subjective perception of them.

3. Security can’t be guaranteed without an adequate regulatory framework. It’s important to use the enabling law and the parliamentary majority to broaden the authority and responsibilities of the relevant bodies in the area. The opposition can’t continue with its doublespeak of demanding a tough stance on crime while also asking for impunity for corrupt, murdering people and banking criminals, as they condemn the insecurity but also all the efforts to plan against it.

4. In order to combat insecurity it needs to stop being used as an electoral argument. In 2012 Juan Jose Rendon declared that the opposition campaign should focus on just one issue, “insecurity” [crime]. The oligarchy focused instead on the economic war, which left them worse off, they don’t have any other choice but to obey their advisor in cold wars. A symptom of that is the appearance, in Caracas, Barquisimeto, Merida, and other cities, of tabloids exclusively dedicated to sensationalism. The covers become horrendous with blood, and the headlines don’t report news but instead feelings. Let’s contemplate the television and the repertoire of luxury goods that advertising offers but doesn’t deliver. Let’s count the media parade of murders, serial killers, mass murders, drug dealers, hired killers, psychopaths, rapists, mercenaries, and monsters who obtain these goods through crime. Some media that clamours against insecurity should revise its daily pedagogy of inciting crime.

5. Years ago I denounced a paramilitary infiltration that received financing through threats and kidnapping, put roadblocks in place, dominated informal business and mining contraband, impersonate local criminals, set up casinos, acquire companies and politicians, and count on the complicity of a certain opposition. Does that explain the proliferation of horrendous crimes, the importing of a new culture of death to Venezuela, of a foolish cruelty that reins over the profit motive and would seem to point to the political objective of planting terror and de-legitimising the government? The paramilitary invasion is a question of security and defence. We have to face it with all our might if we want sovereignty and democracy to survive.