Venezuela’s soaring crime rate a major electoral issue.
As dusk approaches the streets of Caracas empty leaving the city at the mercy of the criminals. The murder rate in Venezuela is 20 times higher than that of the United States and the police are part of the problem. In 2009 former Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said they were responsible for 20 percent of the country’s crimes.
Current vice-president and presidential hopeful Nicolas Maduro has vowed to address the issue: “One of the most serious problems, which I am committed to finding a solution, is the problem of insecurity, criminality, violence, drugs,” he said while on the campaign trail.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles is well aware of the problem, speaking at a rally Capriles shed light on the lives of many in Venezuela: “For years now there have been people who don’t sleep, who can’t sleep because of what is going on outside their houses, who are afraid. The sounds they hear don’t come from television, but from bullets, the sounds of violence, with you I want to build a country where people can sleep calmly.”
As many 3,400 people have been killed in the country since the beginning of the year many of them young men.
Yelitza Palacios lost her son in a street shooting: “I felt the bullets hitting when I was inside my house. He was coming with his girlfriend, when the shots started I ran outside because it was going on in my street. I ran out shouting, and when I got there they told me my son was dead.”
In an attempt to combat the violence the government has created gun-free zones in public places such as night-clubs and restaurants.