Nos queda la calle / Oswaldo Barreto

All We Have Left Is the Street

When we were preparing to return to our work in TalCual, tackling a theme tied to contemporary Mexico and Central America—countries we have been lucky enough to visit again during these vacations—, in relation to our own occurrences, we find ourselves with this frightening succession of crimes that precisely represent the distinctive sign of our daily life today. And our theme cannot be anything other than this one, since we don't exaggerate: to the already ignominious condition of being the country with the highest rate of homicides with firearms, are added two qualitative traits regarding how these crimes are practiced in Venezuela: the evident participation of the police forces paradoxically charged with avoiding them and also the evident chronic incapacity of the government to anticipate, combat and punish them. This time, all of us Venezuelans are united—at the mercy of criminals without scruples and with no fear of what might happen to them.

And this comes from far away. Since a comparative study by UNESCO, based on figures from 57 nations, places Venezuela and Brazil as the countries that have the highest number of dead people due to firearms, with 22.15 and 21.72 respectively for every 100,000 inhabitants. Since various years ago, our country is pointed out as the one where the homicide rate grows with the most consistency and speed.

In effect, from 2001 until 2005, the number of homicides in Venezuela has “progressed” in the following manner: in 2001, 10,711 homicides; 2002, 13,020; 2003, 15,738; 2004, 17,596; 2005, 19,504.

Horrifying statistics in that they announce that we Venezuelans live amid this matter, during moments of peace and legality, a situation more serious than what is presented in countries where various types of wars are being fought, such as Colombia or Israel. But especially horrifying in that they indicate this frightening escalation has run parallel with the increase of the government's weight in the country’s political life. In clear words: this insecurity is the work of the government of Hugo Chávez and his institutions.

And, finally, statistics that point to what we are already witnessing: Venezuelan society has nothing left but to take to the streets to defend its most basic rights. The right to life and personal safety. No one will look after those rights in the same manner, as we all know, that no one has looked after them in recent years.

{ Oswaldo Barreto, TalCual, 6 April 2006 }

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