Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crime getting everyday more assertive in Venezuela

[UPDATED]
While Chavez makes sure that everyday more people join the unemployment lines, crime is becoming bolder and bolder, I suppose to make sure it accommodates the new arrivals that will join the crime wave, raising the competition of this vibrant sector of Venezuelan economy. A few minutes ago I was informed that a charity group in Caracas (foreign nationals and their friends, no further details will be revealed right now) was held hostage for ransom as one of the guest was kidnapped at the doors of the event.

Namely, as people gathered, one of the late comers arriving alone was caught off the street and a message was sent to the attendance that the criminals requested 50.000 BsF cash to release him unharmed. People had to hit their wallet and between all of then they managed to raise 13.000. You know, people go to charity events with their check books, not a wallet full of cash, and even less in Venezuela.... Note that the 50.000 number was reasonably realistic when you consider that the attendance managed to raise 13.000 in cash (6.000 USD in value at the official exchange rate). Maybe if they had asked for jewelry and watches?

I do not know yet if the victim has been released and if the ransom was paid and how. But do those details really matter at this point for the objectives of this blog, even though we should all feel sorry for the victim? The salient fact here is the level of organization of crime in Venezuela. The guys knew of the event in advance, had an estimate of how much they could get out, waited long enough to get a latecomer, had a way to communicate with the attendance, etc...

Is the government doing anything? Of course not. These days in fact Chavez is threatening state workers who protest with reprisals, accusing them of bourgeois tendency and all sot of insults that today private enterprises bosses would never think to use, and even less dare to use against their employees. As the economy keeps sinking and as the bloated state bureaucracy will need to be trimmed and as the private sector will be unable to absorb this unemployed crowd, assuming it can at least keep the workers currently working, I let you imagine what will be the crime level in a year from know, and its increasing sophistication.

I just hope that the silly PSF visiting Venezuela get properly mugged, you know, in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.

Update: I got more details. It was not 50.000 they were asking, it was 500.000, immediately and in cash. That is, the family had to raise more than 200.000 USD in cash. Obviously they could not. They are a group of mid level professional people who own little more than their home and some modest savings. The mother of the victim is a retired teacher and her second husband a small shop owner (I have know them both for decades).

All parents and friends went to ATM machines, carrying not only their ATM card but their VISA and MC for any cash advance they could come up with. Around midnight they had come up with 115.000 BsF, about 50.000 USD. The thugs relented and accepted that amount. They demanded that the wife of the victim came alone to a specific spot on Caracas main highway where she surrendered the loot. She was allowed to go safely and shortly after her husband was released. He claims he was treated well, and that for the way his captors behaved they were a highly organized and professional group that were used to this type of actions.

As far as I know they did not even bother calling the police, not to mention that had they called the police they should have surrendered the whole operation to them and risk seeing all of their assets frozen to make sure that they could not pay anything as ransom. Considering the disquieting rumors and facts that circulate everyday more and more, there would be a significant participation of police force in this new kidnapping mafias; and thus even less trust from the victims as to the police readiness and willingness to solve the crime. The recent kidnapping of banker Garcia Velutini is highly suspect on this regard. From personal experience when I have been robbed at home or at work I know that calling the police is totally useless, the only purpose to do so is to have an official report for insurance claims. You never recover your property.

-The end-

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