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A blogger's-analysis of Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal

Caracas 01.03.04 - It has been quite a day and trying to make a chronological sense of it is useless for me as I spent more than half of it walking in the neighborhood. I will start first with what was my day since I already put up the pictures.

Early today barricades were set up. By 9 it was impossible to go to work and actually nobody had been able to make it there. So I decided to take a walk along Boulevard El Cafetal. This is an area that was designed in the 60 ies and 70 ies which was made as high rises for the then prosperous middle class of Venezuela, then composed with a large amount of public employees. The wealthier ones did manage to get houses, the more middle of the road packed up in high rises. El Cafetal was one of the first area to go against Chavez as early as the 2000 elections. Still, many public servants supporting Chavez do live here and except for some occasional cacerolazo we do manage.

It was just with great surprised that I witnessed today the grim determination. Every major intersection was barred with trees, garbage cans, trash and what not. They were actually well organized as only ambulances could go by, and quickly! I saw three cases in my long walk.

The end of my walk was Chuao. Going further was going to bring me close to the Army that was blocking Altamira. Nobody was going that way except for an occasional biker. Thus I went back.

I did spend some time with the Chuao barricade. People were actually having some fun. Some had walky talkies and I could observe that there was a network of sorts. Some of the motor bikes I saw regularly, surveying all the area and trying to detect infiltrados, that is people spying on the area. If not worse.

All these barricades had something in common: something was always burning. They also had another thing in common: constant over fly of choppers from the security police. Eventually I came back home for lunch.

As I was editing my pics, I heard that the National Guard, or should say as of now the Nazi-onal Guard was attacking the Caurimare entrance. I dropped everything, put back my shoes and went walking toward there.

Now, right there I was a little bit suspicious. Why would the NG try to penetrate an area obviously hostile that could even be armed and able to shoot at them from high rises in a rather narrow canyon of buildings? I would have understood first an attack from Chuao which abuts the local airport, but Caurimare did not seem an important target. In addition it reaches the middle of the Boulevard and then they would have two split and march both senses. The only logical explanations for me were that they were testing our resolve and more importantly, advancing ground from the main Caracas highway that they want to keep open at any cost. A large march from El Cafetal could easily go through Caurimare to the highway.

I arrived at San Luis and asking for info I was told that we better stay there in case Caurimare falls. The idea been to create a series of obstacles. Many wanted to push forward. During all this time I saw a series of people, many women among them, preparing Molotov's cocktails! Cheap Venezuelan gas or diesel in Venezuelan beer bottles. I must admit that I was duly impressed.

Eventually I decided to push on to Caurimare. On the way there I was asked by some people to carry stones. I told them that I am not good at throwing anything but they asked me to carry them to a "storage area". Well, why not? And I suddenly noticed that behind some trees they had more bombs!!!!

When I arrived on top of the avenue, before it starts going down again to go the Caracas valley, lots of shouting greeted the small group of people that was walking with me. Apparently a suspicious black corolla was spotted and I must observe that it refused to stop! Then a number of people started running back in some sort of panic screaming "sharp shooters on a motor bike"! I dropped my stones and started running back, but seeing some people getting into a building’s garage I decided to wait there behind a wall. Although nothing came I heard some distant noise. People kept pushing back and I decided to go back to San Luis. The wisdom of the decision would be confirmed within a couple of minutes as firemen trucks went that way to the entry of Caurimare. 3 of them! Even if the NG wanted to press through it would not be able to go through the trucks.

Back in San Luis I learned that the NG had indeed attacked with tear gas and one of the canisters had found its way through a window of the hospital that is at the entry of Caurimare. Two floors had to be evacuated, injuries, Red Cross flags were raised, just as in a real war! That was the end of the NG attack, at least for the day as quickly networks reported on yet another assault on Human Rights. Really, a few beer bottles and some stones against tear bomb cannons that reach a hospital high on a small cliff...

I did hang out for a little bit chit chatting with a few folks. Several told me their stories of Friday when they were gassed completely. They are not afraid to be gassed again.

I went back home. Without any glorious deed, but that is fine with me. There will always be an opportunity at some point.

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