Violent Crime in Venezuela

It is scary having a gun pointed at you! Photo cred https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcfairch/4189169360/in/photolist-4eS1Fh-kJC9Yt-iJiqW-5DTUHo-81R2rR-7obA6W-9ZkPny-5yj3Qa-p71vDt-6q7aZM-9ZhW7Z-7HRQ66-9aLTn9-4hVV3A-cYPbUL-axRKGM-rVsSF-7CUKEQ-7Vu6cq-7CUKHN-7UYCza-7SS6F8-a3t594-aDxTCs-cAoaN9-2U6gwr-bkC7BN-5oJ6pv-nugfX9-amDFWP-7SVoGS-4xAyd-fKxFXW-93kyk2-aDxTSC-aFfLv1-85Sthd-j1eJ5K-b5qFRx-f973Uk-7HRR9t-81R2rp-cR5s7W-yDJsF-7D4ryn-6tSUpo-4Q99xW-dmdaVk-3cvtaz-HVp8H

It is scary having a gun pointed at you! Photo cred 

I might be writing about crime here a little more frequently than I have in the past. On Friday I described my encounter with attempted armed robbery and I haven’t been able to move past it yet.

I have been shown various videos of violent robberies that have happened in Venezuela. I always assumed that these things happened at night, in dangerous areas, to people who had more money, people who were flashing their valuables (like phones, money, jewelry), or somehow being stupid.

I didn’t think it would happen in broad daylight.

In the middle of rush hour traffic.

In the CENTER of an intersection.

But it happened to me.

Here are some videos and information that I found online about violence in Venezuela:

This blog predicts that Venezuela will only see more violent crimes being committed until changes are made: http://blog.willis.com/2014/10/security-situation-in-venezuela-continues-to-deteriorate/

Here is a very concise page comparing Venezuela to the US on the topic of crime: http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/United-States/Venezuela/Crime

One of the reasons that I’m so shaken up is that it could have been so much worse for me since I resisted the robbery. Here is an article about a British man who was murdered for resisting a robbery: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jul/20/thomas-ossel-killed-venezuela-hotel.

Many people heard about the ex- Miss Venezuela getting murdered last January in the state of Carabobo (where I live): http://world.time.com/2014/01/07/ex-miss-venezuela-shot-dead-in-roadside-robbery/

According to this article in CNN, one person is killed every 21 minutes in Venezuela. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/07/world/americas/monica-spear-venezuela-beauty-queen-killed/index.html

Forbe’s says that the murder rate in Caracas is 30 times higher than NYC: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanielparishflannery/2014/01/08/in-the-spotlight-violent-crime-in-venezuela/

Armed vehicular theft: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEt3v6nAzPA

Most apartments have gated parking garages like this one, and look how easy it was for this woman to be robbed! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR3PHwOLaFk (the action starts at about the 3 min mark).

I’m happy my friends talked me out of getting a motorcycle last year, because they only take seconds to steal while driving down the street: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaUnE7wiX8g

Then of course there were the protests last February, which I was shielded from since I was living in sleepy Ciudad Ojeda at the time. Here is a video of some robberies that took place at that time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4dHdxFUMZA

I don’t like guns, but my brother who was in the army suggested that I do what this man did and fight back (warning: very violent): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqpTdV1lv1E

On the US Gov Travel website I see an advisory stating that people should travel in groups of two or more, lock your doors, and to be aware that carjackings are common in Venezuela: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/venezuela-travel-warning.html

Well, after doing all this research, I don’t feel any better. I will definitely be staying through the end of this school year, and I had planned on staying for four more years, but at this point I don’t feel safe or calm enough to make a decision about it. I kinda think that if I can make it through one year at my school than I should stay a second year so it looks better on my resume…and if I can do that, then why don’t I just stay as long as I planned.

Ah, who knows what the future holds.

Send some good energy my way please!

Are there any other adventurous/crazy teachers like me who live in dangerous areas? What motivates you to stay? How do you convince yourself and your family that you will be safe after you have been involved in a crime of some sort?

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14 responses to “Violent Crime in Venezuela

  1. I guess people considered Latvia a bit dodgy but it was nothing in comparison to what you have to deal with! I wouldn’t worry too much about the CV – if they ask you why you left after only one year, you have a bloody good reason!

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    • Yes, I am sure people would understand, but I feel like it is such a stigma in the international community if you leave after one year. I would hate to have to rehash it every time I interview. I’ve decided that I am mostly angry about it instead of being afraid…but a little part of me will be worried every time I go outside.

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      • The anger is understandable. There’s nothing worse than feeling helpless and vulnerable. I’d be mad too, raging mad. I guess just do what feels right for you. If you think you can’t be happy there and you’re nervous every time you step outside the door, then that’s no way to live either.

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      • That is true Linda. It would be easier for me if I hated my city and hated my job, but really it is just the violence that bothers me. I love my job and that is where I spend most of my time and I feel safe in my neighborhood too.

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  2. There are plenty of expats that have or do live in S. America. I’d reach out and find those bloggers because I’m sure they all have a story to tell and reasons why they love their expat country.

    I watched my friend get mugged when we lived in Ecuador. They didn’t touch me, for some reason, but they took her money. It was in broad daylight and in the middle of a residential area, just blocks from my home. Anyone around didn’t get involved…unfortunately, I could tell you lots of stories, but I don’t think that will help you.

    Keep talking and connecting with expats and see if you can find some peace of mind. You always have a choice, too. If you are unhappy, leave and don’t worry how anything looks on a resume. Life’s too short for that BS.

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    • See, that’s the strange thing. I am happy day to day. I am happy at work. I am happy at home in my apartment. I feel happy walking in my neighborhood. It is just when I leave those places that I feel worried.

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  3. I haven’t stopped thinking about your situation since I read your last post. My family had a scary incident when we lived in Caracas (15 years ago) and I know it’s hard to go back to your normal day to day after that.

    Does your school provide any training on how to handle those type situations. I know that my mom had attended some classes that helped her know what to do/say when she was threatened. If not maybe you could seek them out in the community? It’s so sad that such a beautiful county with amazing people has become so dangerous.

    Follow your instincts and if you don’t feel safe don’t stay. No other school is going to look down on you for that- in fact they will probably be impressed that you were there in the first place. I’m thinking about you and hope you can find peace in all of this. Teaching is stressful enough as it is without worrying about your safety on top of that.

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  4. My first school showed us some videos like the ones I posted above. They told us to not look at the bad guy and to give them whatever they wanted because your life is more valuable than whatever you are carrying. My new school had a talk about give the bad guys whatever they wanted and to not carry valuables in plain sight.

    I’ve come to terms with the situation by telling myself that it is unlikely that it will happen to me in again. Perhaps someone will steal my car from a parking lot or steal my phone from my desk at work, but hopefully I will never be held at gunpoint again while I’m here.

    I spoke with my boss yesterday and he has been living in Venezuela for a really long time and nothing has happened to him. The same with our curriculum director who has been here with her family for about 17 years. She told me that she goes to the same area where I got the gun pulled on me, every other weekend and nothing has happened to her or her three kids.

    I foresee myself simply staying inside a bit more and not driving around by myself anymore. A simple compromise to make myself feel safer. However… I don’t think I will ever feel entirely safe again until I leave this country.

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  5. Hi I’m so sorry that this has happened to you… i’ve read what happened and the comments and I can tell you by experience that it is like a lottery… I’ve met people who have lived for a long time here or visited this country and everything has been just okay for them… but I’ve also met people that in the very moment they arrive in maiquetia the international airport… they’ve experienced the violence even at gun point and everything… I’m a Venezuelan EFL Teacher and as some people have already pointed out… safety comes first and if you really feel you can’t get over this horrible experience you should consider leaving for another place… it’s sad that me as a Venezuelan have to say this but it’s just the sad reality we’re living in… if you decide to stay try to follow those tips they’ve given you they’re really useful.

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