VENEZUELA’S crippling economic spiral is now affecting the nation’s gangs, after they can’t afford to buy bullets and robberies no longer seem profitable.
While bullets are still widely available on the black market, many robbers cannot afford the 80p price tag anymore, according to a local gang member.
Many gang members can no longer afford bullets for their guns[/caption]
The Venezuelan government overspent on social programmes and it led to a rise in inflation[/caption]
Venezuelan gangsters no longer feel that robberies are profitable[/caption]
Gang member El Negrito, 24, told Associated Press: “If you empty your clip, you’re shooting off $15.
“You lose your pistol or the police take it and you’re throwing away $800.”
In something of an unexpected silver lining to the country’s all-consuming economic crunch, experts say armed assaults and killings are plummeting in one of the world’s most violent nations.
CRIME RATES DROPPED AMID CRISIS
The economic crisis prompted a whopping 39 percent drop in homicides over a three-year period, with 10,598 killings in 2018. Officials also report a fall in kidnappings.
The decline has a direct link to the economic tailspin that has helped spark a political battle for control of the once-wealthy oil nation.
Soaring inflation topped 1 million percent last year, making the local bolivar nearly useless even though ATM machines have been unable to dispense more than a pound’s worth of scrip.
The severe scarcity of food and medicine has driven some 3.7 million to seek better prospects in places like Colombia, Panama and Peru the majority of them young males from whom gangs recruit.
And workdays are frequently curtailed due to nationwide strikes.
But as the country descends into a state of lawlessness, many Venezuelans who turn to crime find themselves subject to the same chaos that has led to a broader political and social meltdown.
El Negrito said the ransom they set depends on what a victim’s car costs, and a deal can turn deadly if demands aren’t met.
He said some people have quit the world of crime and sought more honest work abroad, fearing stiff penalties in other countries where laws are more enforced.
As cash becomes scarce in Venezuela, there is less to steal.
The average Venezuelan only earns £5 a month, according to the AP, and skyrocketing hyperinflation renders cash more worthless every day.
One associate of the Crazy Boys, who gave only his nickname, Dog, said he has no trouble finding ammunition for his guns on the black market.
He said: “A pistol used to cost one of these bills. Now, this is nothing.”
Many people struggle to pay for basics like food, medicine, or clothes, meaning there are fewer cars or luxury items that criminals can take from them.
Many Venezuelans have also stopped using cash because of soaring inflation.
Just 20 years ago, Venezuela — which has the world’s largest crude oil reserves — was one of the richest countries on Earth.
Revolutionary socialist Hugo Chavez swept to power in 1998, promising to share out the nation’s wealth.
Slum dwellers were housed in new tower block apartments, deliberately sited in well-to-do areas, and Chavez gave away £640billion in welfare handouts, increasing the national debt five-fold.
Chavez used the oil revenues of the 2000s to nationalise key industries and to implement social programmes known as the Bolivarian missions.
At the start of the 21 st century Venezuela was the world’s fifth largest exporter of crude oil, with it accounting for 85 per cent of the country’s exports and dominated the economy.
This resulted in temporary improvements to quality of life, literacy rates, poverty rates, and income equality – mainly from 2003 and 2007.
However, this was only temporary and the gains started to reverse in 2012 after government policies failed to address structural inequalities in other areas such as quality of housing, neighbourhoods, education and employment.
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The Venezuelan government overspent on social programmes and it led to a rise in inflation.
This coupled with the government’s unfriendliness to privatisation led to a lack of foreign investment.
President Nicolas Maduro took over after Chavez died in 2013, and analysts claim that Venezuela’s economic problems would still have been exacerbated if Chavez was still the leader.
Many people struggle to pay for basics like food, medicine, or clothes, meaning there are fewer cars or luxury items that criminals can take from them[/caption]
Just 20 years ago, Venezuela — which has the world’s largest crude oil reserves — was one of the richest countries on Earth[/caption]
ATM machines have been unable to dispense more than a pound’s worth of scrip[/caption]