The New York Times paints a bleak picture of uncontrolled crime in Venezuela, where the country’s own security forces are accused of participating in a massacre of innocents. The country has long suffered from one of the world’s highest crime rates. But the nation’s economic crisis, which has upended everything from its hospitals to its food supply, has deepened the misery and criminality. Killings have risen to 28,479 this year, the highest number ever recorded in the country, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, an independent group that tracks violence. Armed gangs have established a tight grip over neighborhoods, with many Venezuelans turning to crime as inflation shrivels their wages and jobs become harder to find.
In a bid to restore order, the government has turned to the institution it trusts the most: the military. Throughout the country, the armed forces have become Venezuela’s law keepers, engaging in commando-style raids that sometimes take on the profile of urban warfare. “It has become more militaristic and more repressive,” Margarita López Maya, a Venezuelan political scientist, said. She López said that the victims of the crackdowns were often the impoverished civilians who needed protection the most, and that the violence was a reflection of the severity of Venezuela’s decline. “We are walking on the path to a failed state,” she said. “It will come to a point where no one is in control.”