Caracas named murder capital of the world

Por Venezuela Real - 2 de Octubre, 2008, 16:00, Categoría: Imagen gobierno / Chávez

Miami Herald
October 02, 2008

When some people think of the most dangerous places in Latin America, Colombia and Mexico usually come to mind. But Wednesday's Foreign Policy Magazine ranked Caracas, Venezuela, as the "murder capital of the world."

The news was delivered at the Americas Conference by Leopoldo López Mendoza, the mayor of Chacao, an upscale municipality in Caracas. Just last month, López made international headlines when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez barred him from running for mayor of greater Caracas. López delivered the news about Caracas as a panelist on Political Parties and Elections in Latin America. The city has 130 homicides per 100,000 residents in comparison to the once bloody city of Medellín, Colombia, which now has just 30 murders per 100,000.
• • • 
Some speakers ask for projection screens -- others ask for technology to stream their words live from the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

A day before the conference, one dedicated worker got to know the hotel inside and out, as she ran around, scouting out the loading docks, parking lot, golf course -- and even the kitchen.

Not even the mojitos and hors d'oeuvres were enough to deter her mission: finding the right place for a 24-foot live truck to park and still get its 754-foot cable inside the ballroom where Fernández was to give his luncheon address.

Too bad the plan was aborted at the last minute. Maybe it was the fear of having all of those attendees trip over the cable as they rushed in to hear Fernández give his address.

Speaking of Fernández, during a serious address about how the Caribbean is being hit by five simultaneous crisis -- among them consecutive storms and rising food and fuel prices -- Fernández couldn't help but issue an observation on the U.S. presidential elections.

''I am not supposed to take sides,'' he told the group with a sly smile, but in the Dominican Republic many say Barack Obama looks like he's half Dominican and many say he comes from my neighborhood.
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In another incident related to the U.S. presidential elections:

El Salvador President Tony Saca was a confirmed speaker to this year's Americas Conference. But on Tuesday night, a Salvadoran embassy official in Washington and another source close to Saca called conference organizers asking frantically whether John McCain was coming. Both were told that due to the financial crisis, McCain would be represented by his Latin American advisory team leader.

Hours later, the U.S. Secret Service told conference organizers that Saca had canceled his visit to Miami.
• • •
Chile's late Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte is considered one of the most blatant symbols of human rights abuse and corruption in Latin America -- or so we thought. But in a lobby corner, nostalgic chatter prompted one attendee to blurt this out: ``Pinochet was a good president.''

Some still credit Pinochet with setting up an economic system that is the basis for the country's financial success.• • •

The attendees at the Americas Conference usually speak either English, Spanish or Economics. Now we can add ''red and blue'' to that, thanks to a World Bank study examining inequalities in Latin America.

In trying to get the audience to better understand the inequality gap, speaker Samuel Freije-Rodriguez offered up this example: There are two countries: 50 percent speak red; 50 percent speak blue.

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