Sunday, February 29, 2004

Sunday late

I was away for most of the day attending to some important family obligations. We thought about canceling everything but the chatterers had been hired already, it was a small affair and we thought that today would quiet down some. We also decided that we could not let Chavez change our lives more than necessary and it was some kind of statement to refuse letting events change our schedule. They almost did.

At one PM two elderly relatives called us to tell us that they were to scared to come, as the street were starting to burn up again as the chavista march was doing all sorts of provocations. I did not think twice and I jumped into my car to go and get them. It was an eerie crossing from El Cafetal to El Bosque, trying to find streets open. Many were closed, traffic diverted without any logic (of course) and all along the way remains of the troubles from yesterday and Friday: small barricades, garbage, burnt objects...

Arriving at El Bosque I bumped into a bike motorcade of chavistas, off course their marching route. Again a U-turn. The return actually coincided when the opposition intensified its actions in Altamira and new detours had to be found.

The afternoon I could not pay much attention. At some point one of us did turn on a TV to see one of the worst Chavez cadenas blaming Bush and the US for all the ills of Venezuela. Nationalism again as the last refuge of you know what. After having insulted Powell, Rice and all sorts of officials of the US administration, the next step was obvious, he finally insuted Bush directly calling him an "asshole". The word in Spanish is pendejo. Well, there might be some arguments to agree with such an assessment but that was not the time, place or person to say such a thing. But apparently Chavez was pissed by the final ouster of Aristide. Through a looking glass Hugo!

In all fairness the comment came when he claimed that Bush believed that he had been sacked on April 11. Curious moment for such an historical revision and now pretending that there was not a coup. But Chavez seems to be losing it.

The march was probably big enough for the great leader since he even made his speech daylight. And there is not even the excuse of the sun playing a trick on his head as the speech was late afternoon of a cloudy day.

What was the portion of the cloudy day that came from tear gas is for all to guess. During all afternoon Avenida Luis Roche, the connector between Plaza Altamira and the main thoroughfare of Caracas was the set for a pitched battle between National Guards and the opposition trying to go down to close the highway. The National Guard had to stop that move since all the bus that ferried people to Chavez march had to go back home.

And that was not the only spot in Caracas, with many focal points of unrest keep up this late at night. Nor is only Caracas affected. I checked out with my friends in Barquisimeto and Valencia. Both cities have been very perturbed and several arrests have been made in Barqusimeto, including apparently the ex mayor of Barquisimeto. But I need to verify that. Zulia was also hard hit this morning with many clashes against the National Guard.

But the scariest thing is that from my garden in Caracas at 9 PM we could hear gun shots, heavy sometimes coming from Petare/El Llanito, and from Los Ruices. Sometimes even deep sounds like some small bombs. TV cannot show everything so I do not know what this mean. What I know is that the noises are not like those from Christmas fireworks.

And the CNE demured again, allowing for yet another day of chaos tomorrow!

Tonight there is little I can do this late, and my own area is quiet except for an occasional firework. But tomorrow will find me in the streets if needed, and with my camera.

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