Crime is no stranger to Venezuela. In a country that has held steady at having one of the highest crime rates in the world, violence in Venezuela is part of everyday life.
But one detail behind the rampant crime is quite different than the years before. Now, Venezuelans are resorting to violence because people are hungry.
For the past year, Venezuela has suffered from an economic crisis that has caused its currency to have the highest inflation rate in the entire world. Due to the government’s corrupt policies, food imports are restricted, which is causing families to go bankrupt trying to buy groceries.
So what are people to do when a bag of flour costs upwards of their entire monthly salary? With jobs impossible to find, some Venezuelans are forming gangs, hitting the street, and severely injuring others over something as simple a can of cooking oil or a few pennies.
In fact, these makeshift gangs have turned to mob killings in an attempt to take justice into their own hands. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), which compiles all data of crime across the country, there were 126 fatalities in the past year due to mob killings, compared to 20 in 2015.
Lynching has also become a method of choice for many gangs. Formerly reserved only for the most brutal of crimes — such as rape or murder — angry mobs are now publicly lynching those accused of even minor offenses.
“Due to being repeated victims of crime for more than a decade, and the feeling of not being protected, many people have decided to take justice into their own hands,” the OVV explains.
The foundation also cites research displaying that a minor 10% of the entire population considers the police and government officials to be trustworthy. With one Venezuelan dying every hour and a half due to police violence, this statistic is hardly surprising.
This increase in crime is causing devastating health affects to the Venezuelan population, most notably the young who are living a life ridden with crime and insatiable hunger. More and more of Venezuelan Millennials are suffering from violent acts including becoming paralyzed and suffering from traumatic brain injuries, as they are more likely to become a member of these street gangs. Considering the fact that the leading causes of TBIs include falls (28%), motor vehicle traffic crashes (20%), being stuck against the head (19%), and assaults (11%), there is no surprise that the violent streets are causing life-threatening injuries all over poverty-stricken Venezuela.
All in all, murders in Venezuela have risen to 28,479 as of December, 30, 2016. To put this number in perspective, this equates to more than three killings per hour every day.