Some days ago Venezuela's strongman declared the country had seen a dramatic decrease in "the number of crimes". He talked about 20% reduction in Carabobo, for instance (here). There were no details about how that 20% was measured, how a "crime" is seen now or one year ago. That is absolute rubbish, though. Crime in real Venezuela goes on unabated. In fact, it just keeps getting worse and worse. Chávez didn't talk about the murder rate, of course. He knows murder is more difficult to re-define than a fluffy concept such as "crime", even if even murders are now counted in a more restrictive fashion.
An NGO published new stats about the clearance rate for murder in Venezuela. It stands at about 3%. Try to grasp what that means: from every 100 murders in Venezuela, 97 remain unresolved, the criminals remain at large. Look at the chart. In red you see the percentage of murders that have not been solved and in cyan you see what has been solved.
The clearance rate for Germany is around 96%...against 3 for "socialist Venezuela".
Latin America in general shows very high murder rates. Lots of people specially in the USA and Britain talk about the rampant crime in Mexico, the drug wars there. Indeed, Mexico is in a mess. Some useful idiots abroad mention the case of Mexico to explain Venezuela is not the only major country in America with a high murder rate. But if you put things under perspective, you will see Venezuela under Chávez is in a league of its own. Check out The Economist's interactive map of Mexico to get an idea and bear in mind: Venezuela's murder rate is now around 70 murders per 100 000 inhabitants, twice as many as the second most dangerous country in South America, Colombia, and only slightly surpassed by tiny Honduras and Guatemala.
Juan Cristobal and other bloggers have been discussing for a long time whether Venezuela is still a democracy or not. Juan Cristobal is particularly depressed because of the surprise he seems to have got with last elections' results. It is as if he were telling us: "it is not so much a problem of democracy but of people's will and this is what most want".
But the thing is this: democracy is by any means much more than elections. This is something even those Greeks opposed to Plato's model of democracy would agree with. Most Greeks understood 2400 years ago what most Venezuelans still do not get.
One of the key requirements to call a system democratic is the existence of the rule of law.
There is none in Venezuela.