Merida, July 2, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol has claimed that crime has dropped by 27 percent during the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period last year.
Speaking at an event to commemorate National Journalists’ Day, Reverol also reported that murders rates have fallen 26 percent and kidnappings 54 percent. He offered no net crime data to explicate the statistics.
The figures corroborate data offered by the Interior Ministry on previous occasions which suggest a generalised fall in crime rates across the country since 2016.
This year, the minister has twice made statements about falling crime rates in the capital, Caracas, saying that they had dropped 24 percent in January, with an apparent further fall of 30 percent compared to 2016 figures announced in June.
In December 2017, he stated that crime across Venezuela was down 20.9 percent compared to 2016. He also suggested that murders were down 10 percent in the populous state of Zulia during the second half of 2017.
However, other organisations have challenged the official government figures, arguing that crime continues to be a major problem in the country.
Renowned anti-government NGO Observatory of Organised Crime recently alleged that organised crime had risen 72% in February, whilst the opposition-aligned Venezuelan Observatory of Violence have alleged that four of every ten crimes are committed by a uniformed law enforcer.
Similar accusations have also been raised by renowned Chavista journalist and ex-Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel who has denounced violence and heavy-handedness by state security forces against community and rural leaders. It is unlikely that such cases are reflected in official crime data.
To explain the reported drop in crime, Reverol pointed to a series of new policies being implemented by his office, such as the Preventative Front program which looks to integrate communities and families into cultural and educational activities. He also highlighted the expansion of the Justice House program, which looks to offer quicker and more local responses to minor crimes or disputes.
The Interior Ministry has also implemented special localised programs and interventions into inefficient or allegedly corrupt local police forces, prioritised 79 municipalities with the highest crime rates this year, mainly located in Miranda, Carabobo, Anzoategui, Aragua, and Lara states, as well as in the capital Caracas, for extra police resources. The minister affirmed that these states contribute 52 percent of all Venezuelan crime.
In the tourist destination of Nueva Esparta state, which he indicated in March was the only state to present raising crime levels, 200 special tourist police and 83 peace patrollers were deployed to bus stations, hotels, boat ports, and restaurants in the holiday season.
“We are here to confront the reality [of high crime in Venezuela]. We have studied the elements which affect crime, taking into account the different sectors and actors which belong to the state… and we have constructed a plan,” stated the minister in March.
Apart from the government programs, the minister made no mention of other socio-economic factors, such as hyperinflation and emigration, which may be playing a potential role in changing crime levels.