The ONG Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia informs us there were about 19336 murders in Venezuela in 2011. That means a murder rate of about 66 murders per 100 000 inhabitants. It is about 38 in Colombia and 2 in Chile now. In 1998 Venezuelans were shocked at the murder rate they had: 19 x 100 000. Now half of them got completely used to it: they resent it, but they see is as Scots see the weather. Whereas East German professor Zeuske relativizes the increase in the murder rate (more on that in another post), right now Venezuela's got the highest murder rate in South America by far and that was not the case before Chávez. There was an increase in violence already after 1983, but that rate was still similar to the rate during the Gómez times, over 80 years ago (from about 10 to 19), and much lower than in other Latin American countries back then.
When Chávez announced he had cancer, he changed his slogan from "Fatherland, socialism or death" to "To live living" (sic). He kept tweeting "We will live, we will live" and similar things and his followers started to repeat his words like parrots. What they didn't notice: it's about his life.
What's the matter? What is quite special in Venezuela, as Kronick reports, is that the murder rate is not affecting Chávez in the polls: the poor, who are the most affected by violent crime, do not relate that crime with Chávez. I will go over the different hypothesis people have given to this phenomenon in a new post, next year. One of the key issues: risk perception.