According to official data, a major rise in lynchings has been reported in Venezuela as of September 2016. This is a great increase when compared to 2015 statistics, that only showed there to be ten lynchings in 2015. However, this report stems from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Justice and Peace, and others report the figure could be higher when taking other factors into account.
Up until 2015, lynching was only common within rural and suburban areas. However, widespread anger in relation to inadequate security meant that by April 2016, civilian groups and organised communities had been responsible for the killing of 26 people across the country.
The lynchings even made their way onto social media, where 42-year-old chef Roberto Fuentes Bernal was lynched in Los Ruices de Caracas after being confused for a criminal. The whole thing was recorded, and then broadcast on social media.
The political and economic crisis in Venezuela have been attributed to the rise in lynchings, as justice is sometimes sub-contracted to the masses. As well as the number of lynchings that have occurred, there are said to be additional cases where death was avoided due to police involvement.
There is believed to be between 51 and 91 homicides per 1000,000 inhabitants. The Government has been struggling to deal with crime since oil prices have flagged and the devaluation of the country’s currency.
It is also thought that police officers sent to thwart lynchings are actually thought to be helping the criminals, which could effectively turn Venezuelan society into a ‘primal state.’