Venezuela is a dangerous country, and its capital, Caracas is an extremely dangerous city. Venezuela is a deadlier place then Iraq, with about four times the number of deaths from violence in Venezuela then in Iraq. In 2008 the homicide rate for Venezuela was 48 for every 100,000 people. In the United States the rate was 5.6 per 100,000 (Llana, 2008). A 2010 report puts the murder rate at 75 per 100,000 (Shooting gallery, 2010). Caracas has become the deadliest city in the world, with approximately 200 murders per 100,000 people (Romero, 2010; US Department of State, 2010). That is in contrast to New Orleans, the city in the United States with the highest murder rate at 52 per 100,000 people, and considered the deadliest city in the US (FBI, 2010). In an example of the dangers of just being in Caracas, on August 13th, 2010, Chinese baseball player Cheuk Woon Yee Sinne was struck by a stray bullet as she took the field for a match in Caracas (Shooting Gallery, 2010).
The US Department of State, in their travel information on Venezuela, lists murder, robbery, and kidnappings as problems for travelers. Thieves will rob their victims using guns or knives and they are not afraid to use force. Thieves will even attack their victims in crowded markets with little worry. Kidnappings are also a threat in Caracas. One type of kidnapping is the “express kidnapping” that can occur at the airport. Victims are taken, usually at gunpoint, to withdraw as much money as possible from ATMs. There is also the “virtual kidnapping” where scam surveys are used to get contact and personal information on minors. The “kidnapper” then calls the parents for ransoms without the child actually being taken. A third type of kidnapping is the “inside kidnapping”, where domestic employees are paid large amounts of money for keys and information to help the kidnappers take children for ransom (US Department of State, 2010).
The police in Caracas are sometimes part of the problem, not the cure. Police salaries are low, and as a result some police have turned to kidnapping to increase their income (Romero, 2010). Uniformed airport officials have also been reported to extort money from travelers leaving Venezuela through Maiquetia Airport in Caracas (US Department of State, 2010). In public opinion polls, people feel that the police are corrupt and inept (Llana, 2008).
Some blame the high levels of crime on the weak Venezuelan economy, and the gap between the rich and poor. But another reason might be the government itself. The judicial system is becoming more pro-Chávez. While there has been an...