Times are so tough in socialist Venezuela that criminals can no longer afford to kill each other, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
In particular, the cost of bullets has gotten prohibitive, according to the AP, which has made the murder game much less appealing.
“If you empty your clip, you’re shooting off $15,” one hoodlum, known on the street as El Negrito, told the wire service. “You lose your pistol or the police take it and you’re throwing away $800.”
According to the 24-year-old street gangster, robberies are no longer as lucrative. Meanwhile, bullets are becoming a luxury at $1 a pop. Another hood, who goes by Dog, said finding ammunition for his gun on the black market is easy. But paying for it is a different matter.
“A pistol used to cost one of these bills,” Dog said, holding up a 10 bolivar bill. “Now, this is nothing.”
This, experts told the AP, is a silver lining to the socialist country’s total economic collapse.
Researchers from the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, a Caracas-based nonprofit group, estimated that homicides have dropped by as much as 20 percent in the last three years.
According to the government, 10,598 people were killed in the country in 2018. That’s a 39 percent drop in homicides over a three-year-period. Kidnappings also fell over the same time period.
The AP was able to quote those number because, in another dark irony, President Nicolas Maduro’s notoriously opaque regime was more than willing to share its plummeting crime stats.
Some on the American left have used these kinds of tragic victories to suggest that Venezuela really is thriving in some ways under socialism. More commonly though, the apologists have argued that the country isn’t authentically socialist, and that anyway its economic crisis is the fault of the United States.