Security could be weakness for Venezuela opposition
Crime prevention is a hot-button issue in Venezuela, where nearly three times as many deaths as in Iraq occurred in 2009.
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Capriles has said that violence has worsened in some parts of the country because the Chavez administration has cut funding to regional governments led by opposition politicians, gutting their ability to fund police forces. The government has denied this, however, saying that Capriles has not requested any federal funds (in Spanish) for the state police. El Aissami has claimed that this represents a “complete abandonment of [Capriles’] responsibilities,” and proves that the governor is hypocritical in criticizing insecurity in the country.Skip to next paragraph
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The Chavez government is not alone in criticizing the rate of crime in Miranda. Two years after Capriles took office in 2008, the non-governmental organization, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV) released a report condemning not only the high level of murders in the state, but also the lack of investigation into homicide cases (in Spanish). According to the OVV, most homicides in the state are met with impunity, and 93 percent of murder cases in the state lack even a single suspect.
Capriles’ lackluster record on crime in his own state, as well as the ferocity of the government’s counter-attacks, may prove to be a major flaw for the Miranda governor in the coming months. Indeed, this weakness could partially explain why one of his MUD rivals, former Chacao Mayor Leopoldo Lopez, dropped out of the primary race in January to support Capriles’ campaign. After his own campaign was marred by corruption allegations, Lopez was unlikely to win. Now that he is on the Capriles team he can lend his own, considerably better, security reputation to the campaign. Though it is located in Miranda, Chacao became safer under Lopez’s watch (in Spanish).
So far, however, neither Lopez nor Capriles has released a detailed proposal to combat insecurity, a key issue for Venezuelans. According to public opinion polling project Latinobarometro (in Spanish), the majority of Venezuelans (61 percent) rate “crime/public security” as the most pressing issue facing their country. Unless his campaign comes up with a more specific policy prescription for crime which dramatically breaks with Chavez’s, he will have trouble convincing the electorate that he’ll do any better.
– Geoffrey Ramsey is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region. Find all of his research here.
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