Monday, January 13, 2014
Crime and the Systemic Failures
of Government in Venezuela
Why must a personal tragedy, such as the murder
of former beauty queen and Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her husband -- last week in Venezuela, bring such an intense public
outrage worldwide, with a weak leftist President Nicolas Maduro racing to silence the publicity?
Although these recent killings in Venezuela entail a well-known celebrity, the mother of a young daughter that survived
the shootings, this particular attack sadly shadows the many thousands of murders that preceded this particular mayhem.
Venezuela is, and remains, one of the most violent nations in the world. In a country
where the political apparatchik falsely claims that crime is falling, killings "rose to 24,763 last year," leaving
the country with one of the world's highest homicide rates (according to the non-governmental group Venezuelan Violence
In stark comparison, the United States, with a population
ten times that of Venezuela has about 14,000 homicides a year.
the murder of a high profiled figure is headline news and, as expected, Venezuelans are putting extreme pressure on the socialist
regime as a wake-up call and to at least act now on the homeland's escalating violent crime rate.
Clearly in a knee-jerk reaction, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said at a security meeting he convened with
mayors and governors last week, "It's terrible that this happened, and society has to react. It is not time to faint,
to throw in the towel, to let our guard down. To the contrary, it's time to react."
Maduro is the successor of past President Hugo Chavez's dictatorial-like regime that was in power for slightly
over a decade. Hugo Chavez alone probably inflicted more lasting structural damage on Venezuela's political institutions,
economy and people than any other president in Venezuelan history. He took control of economic matters, weakened the legislature
and judiciary, and tightened the grip by the military. There was rampant and systematic corruption, and mismanagement outside
of transparency, especially with the state run oil company PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela) that suffered billions of
dollars in oil revenue losses.
President Maduro has tried desperately
to fit into the vacant yet tattered shoes of the late Chavez. However, he should look clearly and rationally at that
façade which has run its course, and continues to bring desperate times to the once proud Venezuelan homeland.
Maduro, 50, who previously worked as a Caracas bus driver and union activist, appeared to
Chavez to be the answer to replace him in death. And common sense appeared to prevail somewhat when the Venezuelan
people allegedly gave him a razor thin 1.5 point victory in the special presidential election on April 14, 2013. That race
remains hotly debated due to outcries of corruption.
It is true that poverty
is an issue in much of the crime in Venezuela, where many of the poor were often placated and misled by Hugo Chavez -- who
frequently paraded as a martyr for the poor during campaign and election times. Chavez routinely touted his devotion
to the poor with his Bolivarian Revolution, and he spoke of a mass movement to implement popular democracy, economic independence,
an equitable distribution of revenues, and an end to political corruption.
after his death and under Maduro the poor continue to live below the poverty line, in squalor and unsafe homes, with little
food and rolling blackouts of electricity, among other issues -- that even include toilet paper shortages.
Venezuelans have had ample time to reflect and digest the failures of socialist rule under
Hugo Chavez and now Maduro. It is clear that the economy continues to fail, crime and violence continue to soar, and
Maduro, as did Chavez, continues to tout his admiration, allegiance and support to Castro's Cuba where the failures of
a tired communist regime have decimated the country for decades.
in death a vast world media negatively exploited the Chavez legacy, describing a systematically corrupt administration that
squandered billions of dollars of Venezuelan revenues, much of it still unaccounted for. Chavez's death brought the world
media to question the acquired wealth of the past president and his family over his 14 year Socialist rule, especially since
Venezuela had not been seeing the benefits of its once vast oil wealth and revenues.
Hugo Chavez consistently and verbally attacked the U.S. In terminating all cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration, Venezuela became a primary and expanding drug transshipment hub. A retired lieutenant colonel, who served
in Venezuela's military, Jesus Gonzalez Cazorla, has described Cuba and Venezuela as part of a "new cold war in which
Cuba controls Venezuela, and is directed by Cuban intelligence and other officials. Venezuela is directed by the Cubans, by
the Castro brothers, and they have a policy that the drugs that go to the States are something that will destroy the United
States that (is) the main enemy of Cubans."
Brashly, at a conference
Maduro held last week to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, he called for Puerto Rico to "take
the path of Latin America" in declaring itself independent from the United States. Much like Hugo Chavez, Maduro will
be judged by his own actions and historical record.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org.