Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

What They Aren’t Seeing in Venezuela

with 16 comments

On August 13th 2010, El Nacional newspaper in Venezuela published a photograph of piled corpses at a morgue in Caracas on its frontpage. The New York Times called the photo, “unquestionably gory and unusually anarchic”. Three days later the photo was reprinted by another newspaper, Tal Cual. The Venezuela government denounced the publication as part of campaign against President Hugo Chavez’s Socialist Party ahead of September 26 legislative elections, and the courts ordered all newspapers not to print violent images ‘to protect children’. On August 18th, El Nacional responded by issuing a front page without photos, but with the word “Censored.”

No matter how harsh the censorship is, it is still undeniable that Caracas remains one of the most violent cities in the world. There,  two people are murdered every hour — a homicide rate that has tripled since Hugo Chávez came to power in 1998 — and 90 percent of them go unsolved by a system that always manages to find time for cases against Hugo Chavez’s critics. Venezuela as a country does not fare better: if you were a civilian living in Venezuela in 2009, you are nearly four times more likely to get murdered than if you are a civilian living in Iraq! There are 15 civilian deaths  in Iraq and 57 in Venezuela per 100,000 residents. (This data is of course a rough estimate; Chavez government stopped publishing murder stats in 2003.) Although Ciudad Juárez, the center of Mexico’s drug wars, has higher murder rates than Caracas, drug wars have claimed fewer lives in 2009. There was 12 homicides per 100,000 people in Mexico, and 35  homicides per 100,000 people in Colombia.

The government has maintained that high poverty rates in the 1980s and 90s are to blame for today’s criminals, who were street children back them. Freakconomics guys will probably support this hypothesis, but the legacy of Chavez’s Venezuela, with its intense censorship and nationalizations, its ban on investments abroad, its failure to close the wealth gap, its recession-racked and shrinking economy, weak currency, devaluation and an inflation rate that is among the highest in the world will not probably be any better.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

August 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Politics, Society

Tagged with , ,

16 Responses

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  1. Not to excuse this, but how many graphic photos from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are available through the major US media?

    And of course, pictures of soldiers coffins were actually censored up until 2009.

    Butch In Waukegan

    August 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm

  2. Dear Icon,

    I am somehow upset that your quality page goes down to “murder statistics”, obviously to “prove” that Chavez is a member of the “axes of the evil”. How many articles have I read in European newspapers about “murder statistics” in US cities? Countless! Maybe you should show some photos about Nine-Eleven. Not the World Trade Center, but September 11th, 1973, when Allende was bombed to death with CIA support.

    “Iconic enough?” you ask – “Bullshit!”, I answer. Please, continue to be objective, and keep your excellent page free from government propaganda.



    August 23, 2010 at 11:17 pm

  3. The corporate interests want to overthrow Venezuela’s government, for the same reason that their puppets overthrew the government of Iraq. That reason is, they want to gain control of the petroleum supply, for their own profit.

    Pictures can be faked and photoshopped.

    Gerald Baker

    August 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm

  4. Gunther and Baker,

    Kindly leave off the grating sound that rises from the grinding of dull old axes.

    The item speaks to an issue in “Venezuela” not in either Iraq or the US.

    Demanding that it somehow do so is just the bleating of hobbled and colonized minds strutting about on tattered hobby horses.


    August 24, 2010 at 6:46 pm

  5. Chavez is the Sarah Palin of the Latin American left.


    August 24, 2010 at 8:44 pm

  6. Vanderleun,

    Venezuela does not exist in a vacuum, except in your own head. International corporate interests want the oil that exists in Venezuela, just as the US subjugation of Iraq gave them control of the oil in that country. That is why they are putting out those photoshopped images of mutilated bodies, to influence the election.

    What evidence could connect those bodies with Venezuela, anyway? They could have been taken anywhere that such atrocities have been committed.

    Your numerous inept metaphoric frills contribute nothing of logical substance.

    Gerald Baker

    August 25, 2010 at 2:04 am

  7. Spare me the plaints of your colonized mind, Baker.

    To quote Jack Nicholson, who should know, “Where do they teach you to talk like this? In some Panama City “Sailor wanna hump-hump” bar, or is it getaway day and your last shot at his whiskey? Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”


    August 25, 2010 at 8:09 am

  8. I’d kind of like some links.


    August 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm

  9. I believe the main point is not the photo of the corpses, but the “CENSURADO”s splashed across the front page. The murder data is giving perspective and back-story to the images, which is a great boon to myself and hopefully others.


    August 27, 2010 at 4:28 am

  10. Belmont Club notes today, quoting the New York Times:
    Things are much, much worse than Mexico in that socialist paradise Venezuela, which the NYT says is far more dangerous than Iraq. So bad in fact that the government has ordered the newspapers not to report any more killings.

    In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000.

    Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.

    The NYT seems optimistic that police advisers from Cuba, that other socialist paradise where all problems are solved, will come to turn the tide. Of Chavez one NYT source said, “We elected him to crack down on the problems we face, but there’s no control of criminals on the street, no control of anything.” Only the illusion of control and the illusion of solutions.

    Lovely little country, Venezuela


    August 27, 2010 at 5:20 am

  11. The Venezuelan government, just yesterday seized a lot of cocaine, passing illegally through their country.


    The CIA has always been connected with the drug racket.
    (opium in Afghanistan, cocaine in Columbia.)

    I didn’t access all that came up by a Google search, because some web sites critical of the CIA have been contaminated by viruses, or something similar.

    Gerald Baker

    August 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm

  12. Actually, the only reason I found this site was a search for the old Sewell Avery picture, and my continued interest is sustained by the likelihood of finding other interesting pictures.

    I’m not really interested in debating Venezuela’s politics on this site. There are generally more than two sides to every issue.

    Some of my friends are Cuban exiles, so I can’t really be favorable to the Castros, or to Chavez, either.

    Gerald Baker

    August 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

  13. “The CIA has always been connected with the drug racket.
    (opium in Afghanistan, cocaine in Columbia.)”

    Always? Forever? Then? Now? In Mexico too? In Venezuela where the coke is “just passing through?”

    Amazing for such an inept agency that they always have a shadow hand in skulduggery everywhere on earth.


    August 27, 2010 at 7:04 pm

  14. Has the newspapers gone to far? Maybe … however, some weird comments have been posted – here is some back ground stuff for you folks



    August 29, 2010 at 6:50 am

  15. […] in Sarajevo in 1992. But dangers for photographers didn’t diminish with more cameras didn; governments still oppress and struggles still claim collaterals. Those who died in 2010 — a dangerous year for […]

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