Venezuela is the world’s most dangerous country for the second year running. More than 40% of Venezuelans have been victims of robbery or theft, leaving just 17% of Venezuelans feeling safe as they walk home at night. But it is not just property crime: there are 24,000 violent deaths a year, and nearly a quarter of Venezuelans have been assaulted. Venezuela is more dangerous than actual warzones, and the Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel to Venezuela. Some areas of Venezuela are completely off-limits, as the breakdown of law and order in the country has led to a massive increase in criminal activities, including kidnapping and drug smuggling.
If Venezuelan criminals were not enough to be afraid of, the government is brutally cracking down on political dissent. Over 8,000 people have been killed by security forces since 2015, in addition to the many wounded when riot police are deployed to disperse protests. Additionally, the security services seem to be operating outside the law. The UN has declared the rule of law to be 'virtually absent' from Venezuela, and that extra-judicial killings and disappearances are rife. As a result, less than a quarter of Venezuelans have confidence in their police.
This has been facilitated by President Maduro, who has consolidated his hold on power and removed all remaining checks and balances on his office. The Attorney-General who questioned the security services’ use of force and opened investigations into them has since been removed from office by Maduro. UN inspectors were not allowed into Venezuela and had to assess the situation remotely. Maduro’s refusal to cooperate with the UN is deeply troubling, as it shows that he has something to hide.
Venezuela is a country in which people are at risk from both criminals and their own government. Law and order has broken down to the point that the country is more dangerous than war-torn Afghanistan. This is appalling and there must be change for the sake of the Venezuelan people.
More information on the Venezuela Campaign can be found on their website.