The Socialist society in Venezuela has been degraded to such a degree that citizens now take justice into their own hands.
It is not just the country’s economy and political system that are sick, but society itself, experts say. An epidemic of lynchings is one of the most gruesome symptoms.
Witnesses who spoke to AFP said a 22-year-old man who was set on fire at an anti-government demonstration in May was actually lynched after being accused of stealing by the crowd – not because he was a government sympathizer, as President Nicolas Maduro had suggested at the time.
Swearing in fury, the crowd striped the man naked and stomped on his head as he sprawled on the ground.
“You want things that come easy?
Then take this, you bastard.”
AFP journalists filmed a lynching close-up in a busy street in the capital Caracas.
A witness says he stopped a man who had tried to rob a woman at gunpoint in a bakery. Then the mob took over.
“You’re lucky we didn’t burn you,” a voice yells, as police lug the man, limp but still breathing, into the back of their car.
The crowd yelled in satisfaction — but not at the man’s arrest. They think they are the ones who have done justice here.
“Their aim is to kill the person before the police arrive,” says Marco Ponce, coordinator of the Venezuelan Social Conflict Observatory (OVCS).
He says some 60 people were recorded as killed in lynchings in the first five months of this year alone. Last year there were 126 such killings — a surge from the 20 reported in 2015, coinciding with the worsening of political tensions and economic chaos.
Residents blame the breakdown in social order that’s resulted from Venezuela’s worsening economic crisis. In the capital Caracas, the army and police are focused on brutally suppressing the street protests that have become a daily occurrence in recent months. Meanwhile, the dire financial straits of the country’s residents, who are struggling with inflation rates as high as 10,000%, have caused crime to skyrocket.
Venezuela now has one of the highest annual murder rates in the world — 70 for every 100,000 inhabitants in 2016. Yet only about six crimes out of every 100 here result in a sentence.
Their socialist utopia has turned into Mad Max in a matter of years.
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