Venezuela

In Venezuela, people fear the night, and the cops are not much help, study shows

A gang member in Caracas, Venezuela, shows off a pistol and bullet-proof jacket he says his associates took from the body of an assassinated policeman, in this 2015 photograph.
A gang member in Caracas, Venezuela, shows off a pistol and bullet-proof jacket he says his associates took from the body of an assassinated policeman, in this 2015 photograph. Miami Herald

Venezuelans are scared of the dark.

According to a new poll on citizen security in 135 countries, Venezuelans are the least likely people in the world to feel safe walking alone at night.

The Gallup 2017 Global Law and Order Index found that just 12 percent of Venezuelans felt safe walking after sundown and only 14 percent expressed confidence in their police.

“Both percentages are not only new lows for Venezuela, but also the lowest scores Gallup has measured worldwide since 2005,” the study found.

Read More: Report finds hunger drives crime in Venezuela

In addition, 38 percent of Venezuelans said they had been robbed in the last year, putting it in sixth place worldwide behind five countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gallup interviewed 1,000 people in Venezuela during 2016, asking them about their sense of safety, confidence in police and whether they had been robbed or mugged in the last 12 months.

The study found that Venezuela also had the lowest rating overall on the annual index, at 42 points, behind Liberia (53 points), El Salvador (54), South Sudan (56) and South Africa (58).

“We are absolutely surprised by the findings. It’s frightening how a society — particularly a once-functioning democracy — can crash so fast,” Jon Clifton, Gallup’s Managing Partner, said in an email. “And the situation in Venezuela isn’t limited to residents’ feelings of insecurity. Gallup’s indicators in the country, from food and shelter to well-being, are in free fall.”

The top five highest-ranked countries in the world were: Singapore (97), Uzbekistan (95), Iceland (92), Turkmenistan (91) and Norway (91).

Read More: Police as prey in Venezuela

The United States came in 26th place in the ranking with a score of 85 — tied with the Czech Republic and just behind Ireland.

The study also reconfirmed that Latin America is the least secure region on the planet, with an index score of 64, compared to Sub-Saharan Africa (68) and the Middle East and North Africa (82).

The Venezuelan government quit providing comprehensive and regular crime statistics in 2003, but the Gallup index seems to support other research that paints the country as one of the most violent on the planet.

The Observatory of Venezuelan Violence, or OVV, says there were at least 28,479 violent deaths in 2016, or 91.8 deaths per 100,000 residents.

If the number is accurate, Venezuela would have the second-highest homicide rate in the world after El Salvador and ahead of Honduras. Venezuela’s homicide rate is also about 3.6 times higher than that of neighboring Colombia and Brazil.

The study comes as Venezuela has seen hunger and poverty spike amid weak crude prices, and as the country has been seized by months of anti-government protests and political violence.

Follow Jim Wyss on Twitter @jimwyss

Here’s how the United States and Latin America stacked up in Gallup’s Law and Order Index. The higher the index score the more safe and secure a country is perceived to be.

United States (85)

Honduras (72)

Chile (72)

Uruguay (71)

Haiti (70)

Ecuador (70)

Paraguay (70)

Panama (69)

Costa Rica (69)

Nicaragua (69)

Colombia (67)

Mexico (65)

Brazil (65)

Peru (62)

Argentina (61)

Dominican Rep. (60)

Bolivia (58)

El Salvador (54)

Venezuela (42)

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