Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I know about cops in Venezuela and how they compare with US cops

In Venezuela cops get No Respect. They are murdered at a rate of nearly one a day. Their salaries are miniscule. Using the legal Simadi dollar / bolivar exchange rate bolivar Their 7000 per month salary works out to around $ 41 a month.

Back in the good old days, last November, a dollar fetched 100 bolivars meaning the cop made all of $ 70 a month. Four cops stopped me, my wife and two friends at an anti contraband roadblock. They said we could not proceed because I could not prove that I have been vaccinated against yellow fever. They allowed that 1,000 bolivares would see me clear. Our friends happen to be a cab driver and a truck driver both of whom have been down this road many times. They bargained the cops down to 600 bolivars, six black market dollars at the time and we where on our way.

Today the new legal Simadi-foreivn exchange a dollar fetched 172 bolivars. On the sidewalk dangerous exchange a dollar fetched 217 bolivars. But I digress. The subject of this post is cops.
Venezuelans not only do not put them on pedestals, downright They don`t  care about or respect them . Criminals kill them for their guns, cars, telephones and the public and media do not react.

If police are not safe the public can not be safe either.

I remember watching on TV President Maduro making a speech about the problem of smuggling (contraband) in front of an audience of loyalists. Maduro threatened to lock up crooked cops involved in smuggling. The audience went crazy applauding. I saw Carmen Melendez defense minister addressing a graduation of police cadets. She told them not to shake people down in front of their children lest the children grow up hating cops. I tried to find this on YouTube but I had no luck.

So, a couple of days ago near a right wing typically violent anti-government protest a cop shot a fourteen year old boy in the head with rubber buckshot from a shotgun. The boy apparently not only had nothing to do with the violence, he had begged the cop not to murder him.

In the United States the cop would have been on the phone to his union representatives to get coached on what to say about the death. Most likely the cop would claim to have been in fear for his life and safely. He then might be returned to duty or get a paid vacation pending a review of the case by his friends. The cop might be exonerated, not even to stand trial. Not in Venezuela! The cop who shot that boy is in jail facing murder and other felony charges.

The President himself went on TV to announce the criminal charges .