Reliable global crime statistics are hard to come by, but here are five cities that stand in a class all their own when it comes to brutal, homicidal violence.
Population: 3.2 million
Murder rate: 130 per 100,000 residents (official)
What’s happening: The capital of Chávez country, Caracas has become far more dangerous in recent years than any South American city, even beating out the once notorious Bogotá. What’s worse, the city’s official homicide statistics likely fall short of the mark because they omit prison-related murders as well as deaths that the state never gets around to properly “categorizing.” The numbers also don’t count those who died while “resisting arrest,” suggesting that Caracas’s cops—already known for their brutality against student protesters—might be cooking the books. Many have pointed the finger at El Presidente, whose government has failed to tackle the country’s rising rates of violent crime. In fact, since Chávez took over in 1998, Venezuela’s official homicide rate has climbed 67 percent—mostly due to increased drug and gang violence. Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, who recently resigned as interior minister, claimed in July that homicide has dropped 27 percent since January—but experts say he’s just playing with numbers. As for Caracas, some speculate that its murder rate is closer to 160 per 100,000.
Politically Motivated Murder
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of a student leader who helped organize protests against constitutional amendments proposed by President Hugo Chavez.
Julio Soto, a student leader at the University of Zulia, was killed Wednesday by unidentified gunmen in the western city of Maracaibo.
Local Police Chief Jose Gonzalez said he believes Soto was specifically targeted because the assailants sprayed his vehicle with gunfire and then fled without taking anything.
But Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami said federal authorities have not yet determined if the killing was a politically motivated hit.
Soto was a member of the Copei opposition party. Voters rejected Chavez's proposed reforms in December.