Crime Has Turned Venezuela Into a Multi-Layered Ghetto

April 8, 2012

An electric door at the entrance of a neighborhood in Venezuela

I last wrote about the Brisas de Oriente barrio last year, its residents were protesting after a string of murders, the Government finally sent in the National Guard and after two months of no murders they left. Crime picked up again, but so far there has been only one murder since the Guard left.

Talking to my friend who lives at Brisas de Oriente, I was intrigued when he asked for monetary help to build fences and ramps. When I dug more into it, I discovered that poor barrios in Venezuela are now using the same techniques that fancy residential areas have used for about two decades: Neighbors are getting together, fencing around their houses and putting in a common gate to block the hoodlums from breaking into their homes or mugging them. Much like in the wealthier areas of Caracas and other cities, this creates small ghettos everywhere. In the fancy areas there are guards and electric doors and fences, in the poor areas there are fences, locks, chains and padlocks to keep crime out.

Thus, crime is turning Venezuela into a multi-layered ghetto. It began with bars in the windows and walls around homes, then came the fences around a group of houses, which my friend says is now becoming quite common in his and other barrios. everyone is looking for protection since the Government no longer provides any form of safety. After dark, whether in the barrio or the East of Caracas, there is democracy, everyone feels the problem, so you try as much to stay inside your ghetto, where you think and hope, you are safe.

The end result is terrible, a country privileged by the weather and the enviroment, but citizens have to close themselves in more and more, ugly bars on windows, huge walls that block views and stop air from moving.

Another failure by Government, from the same man that pleads for more time to do “more”. Sure, more damage.

24 Responses to “Crime Has Turned Venezuela Into a Multi-Layered Ghetto”

  1. CarlosElio Says:

    I read in a sociology of education journal an article regarding school discipline problems in American schools. In years past, the problem was kids throwing paper tacks with rubber bands whereas today was kids carrying guns into the schools and firing them. In a different vein, a couple of guys, Robert Frank and Philip Cook wrote a book titled The Winner-Take-All Society about the razor thin margin for competition. The metaphor they use is the fractions of a second that separates the Olympic gold medal from the silver.
    The point is that as information and resources become more widely available to all members of society, competition increase, and the dangers also increase. In business as in crime, the boundaries between the precipice and the safe ground are narrower and more slippery everywhere.
    The normal response of a government of the people for the people and by the people is to also increase the resilience of society to deal with crime through a combination of education, preventative measures, better police, and citizen participation.
    The problem in Venezuela is that as the crime severity and propensity has increase, so has the ineptitude of the government to deal with it. Such ineptitude is not reserved to crime prevention or mitigation. It extends to all other aspects of the function of the state: roads, infrastructure, water, electricity, employment, national accounts, foreign policy, and so on.
    When a top leader intimidates all his subordinates, the name of the game of public service changes from serving the people to serving the master.
    The main challenge for a new government would be to develop a culture of public service in the midst of a long tradition of ass kissing.

  2. Jose Says:

    In reference to the Venezuelan situation, Urugyay’s Pepe Mujica said recently that to build socialism it is necessary to start with a society which is more sophisticated and rich than that found in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America “una sociedad mucho más culta, inteligente y rica”. Is that just an excuse from one who has been a man of violence to justify the excessive level of violence in Venezuelan society? Venezuela is rich, and has (or had when Chavez started his “revolution”) a reasonably sophisticated middle class. People’s intelligence is pretty much the same everywhere, and small variations don’t count for much. There will always be a leftist who blames the failure of socialism on the very people they are trying to lead to the promised land. Mujica may not believe in an afterlife, but he dreams of a place in which you don’t have to lock yourself up behind a fence. Not in Venezuela any time soon.

    • LD Says:

      Here is the video:

      http://globovision.com/news.php?nid=225557

      He is not saying rica as wealthy, but rica as “abounding in pleasing, desirable or valuable qualities” (my Bantam Dictionary), and I think he has a good point. He also says intelligent society, that is not the individuals intelligence.
      He is not fascinated by any measure by Chávez Socialismo del Siglo XXI. He is leaning to a (social-) democracy like in the scandinavian countries.

  3. LD Says:

    I live in Germany, and I’m appalled visiting Chile, where I was born and grow up. Even my brother and my sister live in fenced communities as this the standard for new houses is. For me, that is like living in a jail, the city is not more your city, you can’t walk as you like anymore. And in Chile there is a lot less crime than in Venezuela. I’m not sure if people realizes what an amount of quality of life they give away. Very sad this happens.

    • LD Says:

      I mean *gated* communities, but well, fenced is not that different…

      • Kepler Says:

        LD,
        Imagine…the murder rate in Chile is basically not much higher than in Germany (theft may be probably higher, but I can only guess).
        The murder rate in Venezuela is not <2x 100 000 like in Chile. It is not 4 x 100 000. It is not 10 x 100 000 but over 65 murders per 100 000.
        Venezuelans are blind.

        • LD Says:

          I think the problem is that it has “gradually” increased. As we lived there in 1975 there was already a relatively high level of criminality. But sure, today rates are insane. Also many people can’t/wan’t compare with other countries. Try to explain “dry” to a fish…
          But I think Capriles should at least try to offer something like this “imagine you could go to the city at night, to the movies, restaurant, etc, without fear” How nice is to walk the streets at 02:00 here coming back from a party or the Kneipe…

    • Bloody Mary Says:

      LD,
      The answer is: yes…..people realizes how their quality of life has declined. This is why there are three groups of Venezuelas: those who are abroad, trying to move, or with possible future plans to move abroad; those making fortunes with the goverment (and moving their fortunes abroad); and those who are so poor that their only hope is HCF. Even those who work very hard to save the country are probably among the first group.

  4. LD Says:

    An interesting article I found today too:

    http://www.rnw.nl/espanol/article/¿soldados-para-todo

    About using the armed forces for other tasks as national defense, specifically as police forces:
    “La creciente utilización de las Fuerzas Armadas (FAS) en muchos países de América Latina para tareas que tradicionalmente han sido asumidas por la policía (lucha contra la delincuencia, combate al narcotráfico, violencia en cascos urbanos) ha hecho que se vuelva a poner sobre el tapete el papel que éstas deben cumplir en un estado democrático.”

  5. Bruni Says:

    LD, I don’t kow the situation in Chile, but I must underline that, at least in Caracas Urbanizaciones, these are not “gated communities” .

    To me, a “gated community” is a private property with a gate. In Caracas, public streets are being closed by the local neighbours so that only local cars and their friends’ can circulate. This is absolutely illegal, except that none has challenged the law in the more than twenty years that this practice was put in place.

    The day someone challenges that law in Venezuela, we’ll be closer to have a good country, since it would mean that 1) crime would have gone down and 2) that people would be aware of their personal rights.

  6. LD Says:

    Bruni, yes, that could be a difference, at least formally. Those gated communities are as small as maybe 8 or 10 houses builded in a former relatively big old house terrain, so more like a building. But also as big as a completely village (some square km., look at Chicureo with google) or a block with 50-100 houses, disrupting what a city is/was. Those are streets, but not public. I’m not sure if people could do this with existing streets, I suppose not, but the new areas are not public anymore (you are not allowed to get in there without permission and you have to be picked up by someone at the gate if you are not by car, see http://diario.latercera.com/2012/01/12/01/contenido/pais/31-96902-9-presentan-recurso-de-proteccion-contra-condominio-por-discriminacion.shtml).

  7. syd Says:

    I wonder if any part of La Urbina is gated, given the kidnapping of the commercial consul of the Embassy of Costa Rica in Venezuela … http://www.globovision.com/news.php?nid=225604

  8. CharlesC Says:

    My brother-in-law has a business making, installing burglar bars, steel doors,gates, fences, etc. since before Chavez…business has been increasing
    year after year.
    Occasionally you hear stories about criminals even trying to break through
    the bars..

  9. Dr. Faustus Says:

    It is one of the sad ironies to human life that communism and fascism provide safer environments to their inhabitants/prisoners. Having spoken with many people who lived during the Nazi era I am always struck how ‘orderly’ everything was. There was very little crime on the streets, even the petty stuff. During the 1930’s you could walk the streets of Muenchen, Koeln or Hamburg at any hour of the night and feel relatively safe. Er, the Gestapo did a hell of a job controlling crime. Yup, they did. The former DDR (East Germany) also had a very low crime rate. I mean, like, if you committed a crime on the Alexanderplatz Over the Wall? ,….where are you gonna run to? Most of eastern Europe was like that as well.

    What is odd is,….Venezuela. It’s almost as if Chavez ‘welcomes’ the chaos that comes from crime. It keeps everyone on edge. It strikes me as very strange that he has done nothing about crime, yet appears to still have a high popularity amongst the poor. Strange

    • moctavio Says:

      It is indeed a puzzle. In 2010 I published a graph:

      http://devilsexcrement.com/2010/08/29/how-the-poor-in-venezuela-are-the-largest-victims-of-homicides/

      showing that the lowest social strata of the population is the one with the highest incidence of crime. How this does not affect Chavez’ popularity is simply beyond me, we are talking a huge factor.

      Last week I had to go to Caracas for personal reasons, two people I know were kidnapped and one had her house robbed. I was only there five days.

    • Ira Says:

      Huh?

      The Nazis plundered the wealth and properties of Jews, Slavs and others and gave it to the Aryans, so why WOULD there be much crime:

      Because actually, the people were in cohoots with the criminal Nazi regime who was stealing left and right in the first place.

  10. Flavio Says:

    I saw this a long time ago, about 2005, in a few barrios while volunteering for the Dividendo Voluntario para la Comunidad.

  11. CharlesC Says:

    Newsbreak! -Cabello accuses the opposition of kidnapping Costa Rica
    diplomat. Says opposition wants to destabilize Venezuela and embarass
    Venezuela on the world stage…

    http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2012/04/09/diosdado-cabello-espero-que-delitos-contra-diplomaticos-sean-coincidencia/

    • LD Says:

      haha, it is so ridiculous, it is going to be the joke of the day. I think this is a positive aspect of the “physical lack” of Chávez, the clowns are more visible.
      “”Nosotros, en medio de todo lo que significa un problema de índole personal para algunos compañeros de otros países que han sido agredidos o que han sido atacados, esperamos que sea solo una coincidencia”, dijo Cabello ” Un problema de índole personal!!!!

    • Gringo Says:

      Cabello acusó a la oposición de tener como estrategia el “aislamiento” de Venezuela en el plano internacional

      Cabello accused the opposition of having a strategy of “isolating” Venezuela in the international areana ..

      Seems to me that Chavez is doing a pretty good job himself of isolating Venezuela internationally with his wholehearted support of the butcher Assad.

      Every time Cabello opens his mouth he supports the assertion that Thugo’s bench is full of scrubs.

  12. Greg Says:

    A question for all those better informed than me: Can this be seen as a step towards recovery, as much as a sad demonstration? Isn’t it positive when people start trusting their neighbors enough for mutual security? I don’t like gated communities as a way to keep the hoi polloi out, but that’s not the purpose here.
    I don’t see that Venezuela is comparable to Germany or Chile, there is just not the same belief that an orderly society is of prime importance. At least that’s my perception as an outsider.


  13. [...] Crime Has Turned Venezuela Into a Multi-Layered Ghetto Thus, crime is turning Venezuela into a multi-layered ghetto. It began with bars in the windows and walls around homes, then came the fences around a group of houses, which my friend says is now becoming quite common in his and other barrios. everyone is looking for protection since the Government no longer provides any form of safety. [...]


  14. [...] Crime Has Turned Venezuela Into a Multi-Layered Ghetto Thus, crime is turning Venezuela into a multi-layered ghetto. It began with bars in the windows and walls around homes, then came the fences around a group of houses, which my friend says is now becoming quite common in his and other barrios. everyone is looking for protection since the Government no longer provides any form of safety. [...]


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