Earlier this month, a former Miss Venezuela and her ex-husband were on their way to vacationing in the mountains of Venezuela when they were carjacked and murdered by a gang of marauding highway bandits — and it was only by chance that their five-year-old daughter in the backseat suffered only a non-fatal gunshot wound in her leg. Such incidents, along with robberies and kidnappings, are pretty common in the country of 29 million in which, by one estimate, one person is violently killed every 21 minutes. The ‘official’ homicide rate provided by the national government for 2013 put the number of deaths at around 39 per 100,000 inhabitants, but non-government organizations claim that the real rate is actually double that for a grand total of 24,000 murders just last year.
This particular pair of murders, however, has set off another firestorm of national outrage among Venezuelans, and as ever, flailing Chavez-successor Nicolas Maduro is trying to quell those persnickety masses with empty salvos rather than substantive solutions. Via Reuters:
President Nicolas Maduro will urge representatives of Venezuela’s television stations on Monday to change what he calls a culture of violence glamorized by the media.
Voters routinely cite violent crime as their top concern. In the latest case to put pressure on the government, gunmen shot dead a former Miss Venezuela and her ex-husband in front of their young daughter.
Maduro, who narrowly won a presidential election last April to succeed his late mentor Hugo Chavez, has accused TV stations – especially popular soap operas, or “telenovelas” – of glamorizing guns, drugs and gangsters.
“We are going to build a culture of peace,” he said last week, summoning representatives of local terrestrial and cable channels to the Miraflores presidential palace on Monday.
“They transmit negative values of death, drugs, arms, violence and treachery and everything bad that a human can be,” he said.
In the faux-crusade to address the same problem of burgeoning violence five years ago, Chavez enacted a ban on violent video games and toys (but oddly enough, the rise of his Bolivarian revolution seems to have correlated quite nicely with the 105 percent rise in the number of homicides since he first came to power). Since Maduro’s guiding governing philosophy seems to center around his eagerness to ape both the policy prescriptions and personality of Hugo Chavez, it seems that all Venezuelans will get is yet another misbegotten attempt to tame a supposed pop-culture of violence. The real socialist-driven causes — i.e., the flourishing black market that comprises Venezuela’s underground economy; the state’s endless efforts to control it that end up making the black market all the more lucrative while further contributing to net economic decline; and the scandalously corrupt and non-independent judicial system that allows for widespread criminal impunity and police misconduct — are not really up for discussion.