Caracas is the murder capital of the world, with 160 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, well ahead of Cape Town, with 80. This is from the last official statistics, dating from 2006. The government does not publish statistics any longer.


While surfing on internet, one finds lots of stories of theft, robbing, shootings and murders, one more unbelievable than the other. Here everyone is scared; crime has become uncontrollable and uncontrolled. Organized gangs operate with impunity in the “barrios” of the city. These slums are growing beyond control, attracting the poor from all over the country, who hope to get their share of oil wealth. The barrios are just no-go places, even in daytime.


One thing that struck me was the lack of police presence in the city compared to the other countries I have just passed. Talking to locals, I heart two main reasons:


The first is the president, Mr. .Hugo Chávez. (It is always his name that is quoted if I discuss a particular problem, anyway).  After his first election to the presidency, the Venezuelan police was rather on the side of the opposition. Fearing a coup, and considering the police potentially dangerous for him, he dismissed most of them, and in a very shot time the police was largely understaffed, and many crimes, even murder are unpunished,  very often there is not even a investigation.


Then there is the police itself. Often they work together with the criminals, especially in kidnapping cases, hence having the total control over the reactions of the family this way. I was told a story of abduction, where the family had sought help from the police, which is very unusual by itself. Police found the kidnapped and brought him back to his family who had not paid a ransom. But then, as a "thanks" the police pocketed the money themselves. There are also numerous cases where uniformed police committed armed robbery.


The logical continuation of all this is that nobody trusts the police anymore, and even in wealthy neighborhoods I barely saw any, not even private guards. But therefore in the better neighborhoods houses are all surrounded by high walls topped with barbed wire, power lines and cameras in every corner.

Another explanation for the uncontrolled increase of crime brings us back to Mr. Chávez, never short of spectacular citations. So he sort of legitimized theft by esteeming  that it was not a crime to steal, if you're hungry. He also suggested that the homeless might forcibly occupy the houses of the rich. How far can the madness of this socialist paradise go?


I used the services of a private guide to visit the city, being too scared after all the warnings I received since I am in Venezuela. Well, my guide was more afraid than I; he felt that we were followed by gangsters all the time.(Sometimes it was true) So we changed  sidewalk all the time, he looked almost more often behind than in front of him, led me in shops or cafes,  just in order to wait a few minutes before leaving again. Visiting Caracas like this, I have not seen much, and anyway I have the feeling that there is not much to see. At night it is a dead city, people are hiding in their homes, and the streets belong to criminal gangs.


A friend of mine, sailing around here, was robbed twice and wanted to buy a gun for his protection. Buying weapons in Venezuela is not difficult, he quickly found what he wanted, agreed on the price, and promised to pick it the next day. When he returned, the gun was already sold to another buyer but the seller offering him to do the "work" for him at a price that was cheaper than buying a gun ...



Simon Bolivar, the liberator. His statue is in every city and village on the central square

A "barrio" near Caracas: Not a place for visitors!