Guess there won’t be a Grand Theft Auto: Caracas

A year after violent crime became a top issue in Venezuela’s regional elections, the country’s legislature has a new plan to improve security: ban violent video games and equally aggressive toys. The law, if passed and signed, would ban the making, importing, distibuting, selling, renting, and using of videogames, local media reports. It’s certainly not ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
581710_090826_toygun12.jpg
581710_090826_toygun12.jpg

A year after violent crime became a top issue in Venezuela's regional elections, the country's legislature has a new plan to improve security: ban violent video games and equally aggressive toys. The law, if passed and signed, would ban the making, importing, distibuting, selling, renting, and using of videogames, local media reports.

It's certainly not the first time that videogames have been blamed for ruining young minds. But I have to wonder if this law is an idea they got from newfound friends in China, where just a few weeks ago, the Minister of Culture banned online games that simulate mafia activity. Both countries have an interest in maintaining social stability amid potentially turbulent times -- in Venezuela's case, as oil revenues slip and as relations with nearby Colombia could see imports from that country (many of which include crucial food and other supplies) blocked. 

A year after violent crime became a top issue in Venezuela’s regional elections, the country’s legislature has a new plan to improve security: ban violent video games and equally aggressive toys. The law, if passed and signed, would ban the making, importing, distibuting, selling, renting, and using of videogames, local media reports.

It’s certainly not the first time that videogames have been blamed for ruining young minds. But I have to wonder if this law is an idea they got from newfound friends in China, where just a few weeks ago, the Minister of Culture banned online games that simulate mafia activity. Both countries have an interest in maintaining social stability amid potentially turbulent times — in Venezuela’s case, as oil revenues slip and as relations with nearby Colombia could see imports from that country (many of which include crucial food and other supplies) blocked. 

Or, it could just be another downer in a place that seems to take sport from banning all the fun. Earlier this month, Hugo Chávez shut down some of the country’s most renowned golf courses. This law, proposed by a member of an opposition party, could well up the ante.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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