Crime is the second problem in the minds of Venezuelans after unemployment.
Government statistics say that between 1999 and 2003, 58,519 people were murdered.
In 2003, there were 15,738 murders, an average of 43 murders per day, almost 2 per hour.
Projections indicate that by 2005, the total number of murders since Chávez came to power will number 95,570 people. Say that out loud: 95 thousand murders.
By 2003, the increase in the murder rate was 244.11% relative to 1998. By 2005, the same increase is projected to be 301.76% relative to 1998's rate.
Murders are the third cause of death in Venezuela. Among adult males, they are the first cause of death. Think about that: Venezuelan males are more likely to die murdered than by heart disease or automobile accidents.
Of the 58,519 murders committed, 23,606 (roughly 40%) of these were of people between 15 and 24 years of age.
94.03% of the 23,606 young people murdered were young men.
6 out of 10 people between 15 and 24 who die in Venezuela are murdered. 7 of every 10 young men between the ages of 15 and 24 who died were murdered.
Of all the murders committed between 1999 and 2003, 82% of them were caused by firearms. Think about this: Faced with this context, Mr. Chávez has decided to purchase hundreds of thousands of weapons to arm his personal militias.
95.28% of the murders of young men between 15 and 24 were caused by firearms.
Now, I challenge any PSF to convince me this is something the government is actually doing something about. Well, something other than blaming the CIA.
(Thanks to Raul Fatarella for the numbers)