By Glorimar Fernandez.
Studies show that older Venezuelans have become targets of crime, left vulnerable by family members who were forced to migrate. Venezuela is the lead character of the largest exodus in the history of the Western Hemisphere, where 5.5 million Venezuelans migrate, sometimes, often leaving behind relatives too old or young to fend for themselves.
Besides being old and feeble, the myth, or the reality, is that the elderly receive remittances from working relatives abroad. Asking strangers to buy food or run other errands for them also increases the risk of a violent attack.
In 2019 the NGO Convite A. C. investigated violence in the country in which it counted 411 murders of senior citizens. Of these, 183 crimes classified as violent deaths from mechanical asphyxiation, stabbing, firearms, and beatings. The main motive for these murders was robbery, the NGO reported. According to the published report, almost all of these deaths occurred in the homes of the victims.
Carmen Julia Galindo Mora, 69 years old, is part of the red statistics of 2020. She was murdered and dismembered inside her home in the municipality of Los Valles del Tuy. Her body parts were found scattered throughout her house on November 20th.
“An elderly person is killed every two days on average. The main motive for these murders is robbery because many are living alone,” citizen security expert Luis Izquiel told El Pitazo.
The rates of violence against the elderly have been recorded since at least 2017. That year Convite, which watches the human rights of elders, registered the murder of 499 seniors. The report pointed out that 321 of these crimes were intentional, the main motive was a robbery.
According to the Nicolas Maduro regime, Venezuela in 2019 had five million pensioners. But what was once a decent-sized payment is now equivalent to $1 and not enough for two pounds of cheese.
No surprise then that many retired and pensioners are looking grimly at the fate of the Sandoval brothers. Silvia Margarita, 72 years old, and Rafael David Sandoval Armas, 73 years old, died last October from hunger inside their apartment located in Puente Hierro, Caracas. The man was an engineer, and his sister retired from the Ministry of Defense in 1989.
What makes them prime targets?
Expert Izquiel explained that older adults are easier victims for criminals because of multiple factors, including physical weakening due to old age.
“We are not only referring to murder, which is the most serious crime. Many times they are victims of robbery and theft for the same reasons, living alone and having less capacity for defense than a younger person,” said the expert.
Complicating things further is the fact that, when they see themselves alone, the older adults go to strangers for shopping. Sometimes, family members who are abroad hiring people to enter their homes to do domestic work or construction and gardening.
“In the case of older adults, strangers should be prevented from entering their spaces. Also, they should have emergency phone numbers for law enforcement handy so that if they observe any situation or feel some risk, they communicate immediately,” Izquiel recommended.
The expert in citizen security also said the elderly not to inform third parties of the valuables or money that they keep.
Offenders are strangers and family members
On Monday, November 23rd, officials of the Scientific and Investigation Police in Aragua state arrested three persons who were working in a banking institution for entering the accounts of seniors clients. The group switched their registered telephone numbers for those of the perpetrators and using their funds in a fraudulent mobile-payments scheme.
Once again, the vulnerability of older adults was the target of the underworld. For Gloria Perdomo, coordinator of the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), the elderly become attractive to criminals when they observe that they will not be able to resist, that they are alone.
The researcher points out that this type of behavior is typical of cities but, at the same time that the economic and social crisis in Venezuela worsened, the studies carried out by OVV confirm that in different states, the number of victims of the elderly has increased.
“Criminals know that they have no way to defend themselves, that many have food and resources. That makes them victims of a robbery. They take away their belongings. Some pass by with their motorcycles to tear off their food bags, they look at that lady or an elderly person who they know will not show resistance,” said Perdomo.
The OVV also studies the levels of violence reached within homes where older adults and young people live together. “In a hostile country where there is no security or protection, there is another type of violence that includes them. One kind of domestic violence that has been evidenced by young people engaging in drug use and causing injuries to their grandparents, many of which have ended death,” Perdomo told El Pitazo.
Retired lawyer Solvey Useche, 65, was murdered and burned by her 15-year-old granddaughter on November 1st in the town of Colon, Tachira state.
The teenager and her couple killed her grandmother after being caught while having sex inside the house. The complaints of the sexagenarian unleashed the fury of the teenager, who beat her to death.
“These acts of violence force us to ask ourselves several questions: Where is the social state of law and justice enshrined in the Constitution as a duty of the authorities to guarantee the quality of life and opportunities for the population? Where are the programs of social attention, accompaniment, and psychosocial support?” reflected Perdomo.