Venezuela Mobs Torture Thieves in Lynching Epidemic, “You are Lucky we Didn’t Burn You”


Proclaiming in anger the crowd strips the naked man very badly and stomps on his head as he sprawls on the ground. “You want things that come easy? Then take this, you bastard.

This is what robbers get when they are caught by passers by in Venezuela. It is not only the economic and political system of the country that are sick, but society itself is sick, the experts say.  one of the most gruesome symptoms is an epidemic of lynchings.

A kind of Justice for common peoples

In the capital Caracas, AFP journalists filmed a lynching close-up in a busy street. An eyewitness here, says he stopped the man who had tried to rob a woman at gunpoint inside a bakery and then the mob took over.

A voice screamed, “You are lucky that we did not burn you” as police lug the man limp but still breathing into the back of their car.

The crowd screamed in satisfaction, not at the thieves arrest, but they think like, here they are the ones who have done justice.

Marco Ponce, coordinator of the Venezuelan Social Conflict Observatory said ,” The aim of the crowd present here is to kill the person before the police arrive.”

The person says that within the first five months of this year around 60 people were recorded as killed in lynchings.

Last year, there were 126 such killings.  During previous year, a surge from the 20 persons were reported coinciding with the worsening of political tensions and economic chaos.

Ponce says, In lynchings, public let out their anger in the face of a state that is not defending their right to justice.”

” In that situation crowd think that they are doing justice and do so with anger, so they can go as far as killing the person.”

Public have No pity for robbers

Damaso Velasquez, Caracas resident  recalls  himself while taking part in a separate lynching. He tells AFP,” I personally did not feel any pity for such persons because I knew he was a criminal.”

He added, ” I felt anger and abomination towards that person when, I saw him committing a robbery. That makes you feel normal, so whatever happens to him it’s alright for me. “

” As the government caught  him and puts him in jail and then they let him go again. Starting with the government, there is disorder in Caracas.”

Venezuela is among the countries that has world’s  highest annual murder rates, which  70 for every 100,000 inhabitants during 2016, according to the state prosecution service.

Fermin Marmol, the criminologist said,” only about six crimes out of every 100 here result in a sentence.”

Freddy Crespo, a criminologist at the University of the Andes said,” People feel that the state is not protecting them, opt to defend themselves. People’s fear turns into anger.”


” It’s a kind of Social breakdown”


Ponce sees the rise of lynchings as a sign of a social breakdown in Venezuela.

President, Nicolas Maduro advised that in May,  the man was set on fire during a demonstration and was targeted for being a government supporter. Eyewitnesses said, the crowd accused the man of thieving.

Maduro, posted a video of the 22 years old man running in flames after being doused in fuel and set alight and two weeks later, the man died in hospital.

In another case, when a man committed a robbery, he was set on fire by a crowd, but he had been trying to help the victim.

The lynchings inspire some Venezuelans as much terror as the criminals they are want to punish.

One Caracas resident, Maria Hernandez,” the state is supposed to provide you, civil and judicial security that is totally lacking in the city. “

She said,” I don’t think it is only for me to come and kill or burn anyone just because he have robbed.”