A Venezuelan beauty queen was killed in a reminder of the uglier side of Venezuela, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Monica Spear, the 2004 Miss Venezuela and an international Spanish-language soap-opera star, was shot along with her companion Henry Thomas Berry on a road while awaiting a tow truck after their car broke down. Their five-year-old daughter was hurt in the suspected robbery. Take away the famous name and the deaths were all too familiar in a country where “express” kidnappings – in which victims are driven around town and forced to drain their bank accounts at gunpoint – are reported weekly and crime rates are notoriously high.
Venezuela has one of the world’s highest murder rates. The Venezuelan Observatory on Violence reports 24,763 murders in Venezuela in 2013, a 14 percent rise in homicides from 2012. United Nations data from 2010 shows that Venezuela had the fourth highest murder rate in the world, behind Honduras, El Salvador, and Jamaica. Last May, President Nicolas Maduro rolled out a security plan dubbed “Patria Segura,” which included mobilizing the military alongside the national police to fight crime. (In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Spear said she had moved to Florida because of the violence in her country, the Orlando Sentinel reported.)