Venezuela says murder rate plunges under Maduro

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Venezuela's Interior and Justice Minister Rodriguez Torres talks during a news conference in CaracasBy Andrew Cawthorne and Patricia Velez CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela's murder rate has fallen by about a quarter this year, the government says, dismissing opponents' talk of ever-rising crime as propaganda. Violent crime has been Venezuelans' No. 1 concern in recent years. After taking over from late socialist leader Hugo Chavez in April, President Nicolas Maduro declared the war on crime his priority. Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, who also heads Venezuela's intelligence service, told Reuters that there had been an immediate impact, with the murder rate likely to end 2013 at a much-improved 39 per 100,000 inhabitants.