Venezuela: Where Safety Is Not a Guarantee

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 15:45

After the murder of former Miss Venezuela and soap opera actress Monica Spear, more concerns have contributed to the discussion of safety in the violence-stricken country. After being in a vehicle deemed “too modest” by her attackers, Monica Spear and her husband were murdered by gunshots, leaving their five-year-old daughter an orphan.

While most people view the tragedy as an atrocity that never should have happened, some share the view of a woman waiting in line at a supermarket in Caracas: “These things happen while travelling at night on the highway,” she says. “If you have money, you shouldn’t be on the highway at those hours.” The way that she voices her opinion, both reproachful and detached, is most troubling. Venezuela has gradually become a land where violence is its most prominent characteristic. 

As BBC Mundo reports, “Venezuelans have had to change their lifestyle to live in a country where the possibility of a robbery, shooting, or even a kidnapping is enormous.” It is as if the country has imposed a curfew on itself:  cities become ghost towns after 6pm; children stop playing outside; people don’t leave their homes unless it is out of necessity.  Taxi drivers are known to ignore stoplights to avoid being robbed at night, and are even asked by clients to do the same. After 11:00 pm, a driver states, “there is no hope of seeing a police car patrol the area, so if something happens to your car, that’s when the real trouble begins.” In a country where one person is killed roughly every 21 minutes, there is more than reasonable cause for alarm. The government’s statistics for last year alone, revealed that 39 out of every 100,000 citizens were killed via homicide. However, the statistics of  the NGO, Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, adds to these alarming statistics, claiming that there are actually 79 murders out of 100,000 people each year. 

In agreement with several surveys distributed to the country’s citizens, Venezuelan sociologist David Smilde claims, “security has been the priority of Venezuelans for a number of years.” It is this constant threat of danger that is leading many of the country’s youth to leave in search of safety, and with that, a final sense of peace. Fellow Telemundo actress and colleague of Spear’s, Gaby Espino, reveals a sentiment shared by many who have been able to escape the country’s peril:  “I love my country, but I won’t step foot in Venezuela anymore.”

 

About Author(s)

Whitney Allen
Whitney is an intern at Panoramas. She is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in Spanish with a minor in Portuguese and Certificates in Latin American Studies and Global Studies.