Over the holiday, beauty queen Monica Spears and her husband were gunned down while visiting her home country of Venezuela. The couple was traveling with their five-year-old daughter when their car broke down. As they waited for help, armed robbers assaulted the family. While the child survived with only a minor gunshot wound to the leg, her parents were not as fortunate.
Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in South America. Since the commencement of Hugo Chavez’s 21st-century socialist movement in Venezuela, violence and crime have skyrocketed. The country now registers an average of 79 murders per 100,000. (Honduras, the murder capital of the world, has 91 murders per 100,000.) Chavez’s appointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, has done little to improve the situation. His proposed security plan, Patria Segura (“Secure Homeland”), is nothing more than a publicity stunt backed up by falsified statistics.
While homicide and kidnapping rates are decreasing on a global average, those crimes continue to plague Latin America, with Mexico remaining the world leader. You’re more likely to be kidnapped in Venezuela than in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, or Libya. Active war zones and countries overrun by terrorists are much safer than Maduro’s Venezuela.
This situation warrants a discussion on the intrinsic linkage among democracy, economic freedom, and law and order. Out of the 177 countries measured in the Index of Economic Freedom (published jointly by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal), Venezuela ranks 174, above only Zimbabwe, Cuba, and North Korea. In less than 20 years, the country’s score has fallen by over 23 points, the sharpest declines occurring under Chavez.
Maduro continues to take the country down the same dark path. The central bank continues printing money for PDVSA, the state oil company. In just this past year, the company’s debt has increased by 150 percent. A decade of currency controls has forced the country into devaluing its currency twice in one year, most recently in December by 44 percent. As a result, extremely lucrative black markets have flourished.
Just in 2013, 24,000 Venezuelans were murdered. Yet the socialist movement destroying the country continues alive and well.