As Venezuela’s economy worsens and the black market grows stronger, the gray area between organized crime and irrational street violence is growing blurrier, according to a new report from the Organized Crime Observatory.
FOX News Latino recently reported that around 40% of all murders in Venezuela are now the results of several organized gangs vying for a sliver of control amid the country’s raging economic crisis.
When the price of crude oil began dropping last year, Venezuela’s economy was shaken to the roots; over 90% of the country’s revenue had previously come from exporting oil, and within a matter of months, thousands of Venezuelans were left without jobs. Because the value of country’s currency (the bolivar) dropped substantially, few foreign industries have been willing to import goods in exchange for worthless slips of paper.
As socialist President Nicolas Maduro tightened his grip on the country’s economy, inflation kept increasing and the black market began thriving.
As more Venezuelans began to see the uselessness of their official government, it’s no surprise that organized crime syndicates sprang into action. Although nearly 52% of Venezuelans state that they believe organized crime is “very much present” in the smuggling of goods from Colombia, it’s worth noting that many Venezuelans depend entirely on these smuggled goods.
The unfortunate result of organized crime smugglers is that violence is always present, too; Venezuela now has one of the world’s highest murder rates, and according to Business Insider, the amount of extortion and kidnappings — especially directed at shop owners — has increased more than twofold in the last year.
This violence naturally crosses over into the home as well, and it seems that there has been an increase in violence directed toward women. Earlier this year, it was reported that many educated Venezuelan women had begun working as sex workers in Colombia (where prostitution is legal).
Despite the ease of traveling across the border, Colombia is perhaps one of the worst places for a young woman to live — much less work in the sex industry. Experts estimate that around one in four women in the U.S. will experience violence at some point in their lives from a romantic partner or spouse, but in Colombia, one woman is killed every four days by her male partner.
Over 50% of Colombian officials believe that “what happens in privacy should be solved in privacy,” and a similar sentiment applies to the Venezuelan women who cross over the border for work.
Venezuela may need its organized crime networks right now for items, but it’s important to remember that it also needs its educated young women when the country begins rebuilding in the future.