Venezuela: Why are brushes with crime so pervasive?

More than half of all government officials are believed to be involved in corrupt practices in Venezuela, according to the World Justice Report's annual index.

Jorge Silva/Reuters
Police fire teargas at antigovernment protesters during clashes at Altamira square in Caracas, Venezuela, March 3, 2014.

Rule of law in Venezuela is weaker than anywhere else world in the world, as measured in the World Justice Report’s annual index. More than half of all government officials are believed to be involved in corrupt practices, and three-fourths of Venezuelans feel unsafe or very unsafe walking in their neighborhood at night.

Surprised?

Not our correspondent in the South American country, who was robbed twice in the past month in his Caracas neighborhood – where he’d lived for the previous eight months without incident. Indeed, violence is escalating and law enforcement is spiraling out of control amid weeks of antigovernment protests and clashes with military police.

“My neighborhood is the epicenter of the protests and crime has risen substantially,” says our correspondent. “The local police have stepped back with the entry of the national guard, and a lot of thugs and gangs have capitalized on it.”  

Our correspondent’s latest brush with crime happened last week around 11 p.m. when he opted to walk home two blocks rather than call a taxi. A band of motorcyclists passed him, then circled back and surrounded him, stealing his iPhone and about $10 cash.

“I started running but they trapped me,” he says.

Such motorcycle robberies are somewhat common in Venezuela, which is why the government in January imposed a nighttime curfew on two-wheelers as part of an attempt to crack down on crime. The move came after the shooting death of a former Miss Venezuela. Some international companies have imposed evening curfews on their employees amid the escalation in violence. 

The Rule of Law Index, which is based on surveys with 100,000 households and experts to measure factors such as protection of fundamental rights and order and security, also found that Venezuela ranks ...For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Global Outlook.

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