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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Violent Crime in Venezuela

Caracas has become the world capital of violent crime:

According to U.N. figures, the rates of gun-related violence are higher here than anywhere else on earth. The rank stench coming from the police office -- a building that doubles as a morgue -- is a rotten byproduct of a homicide rate that in recent years has eclipsed that of Colombia, a country torn by 40 years of civil strife between armed militias. Bullets fly so often in Caracas that even the white truck that ferries dead bodies from the barrios to the forensics building has a bullet hole in its driver's-side door.

The frustration among crime-weary Venezuelans recently has become a political issue, erupting into several large street protests demanding that Hugo Chavez's government do something to stem the violence. Chavez's opponents are trying to make crime a central theme of the December presidential elections, demanding action from a president they say has neglected the issue since taking power in 1999.

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