I suppose that I should start with the "guarimba", our tropicalized, venezuelanized, version of your old barricade. I have mixed feelings about the use of guarimbas. I mean, if you are going to go for overthrowing the regime and decided to block, say, the Miranda, or Fajardo, or Libertador and push your way up to the Baralt or Bolivar avenues, I see their use. But what I saw in El Cafetal area is way more of a cathartic nature than any harm it may do against the regime.
|Water tanks to mattresses|
The thing about these barricades in El Cafetal is that they are often left alone. Folks came, dumped their trash and left. The bigger ones in the main drags may have had a dozen or two people loitering.
|An abandoned one in El Cafetal|
But if barricades in El Cafetal were/are ridiculous (and some people I talked to were demanding me what I was doing for the fight against Chavez when I suggested meekly that there might be other options, to which of course I did not bother to reply) those in Chacao in the middle of the day do betray the real feel of combat zone the area gets when night falls.
|A big one in Bello Monte, but in a side street|
and also without anyone around...
Let's call him Jose. Jose does not have time to go an protest. He has a lot of work and a lot of people depending on him. In fact it is a problem for me because he abuses that I spend such long stretch of time in San Felipe to finish other jobs rather than pay attention to the contract we have. But I do not pick up a fight with him because he is trustworthy, he is not conning me and after all the work he is doing is not a matter of life and death to me...
|Saturday P.M. Chacao. Only one lane open.|
But the best story is that Jose has a friend of many years that lives in the in/famous 23 de Enero and who belongs to a "colectivo". So he told me how the system works to support them. His friend is attached to the payroll of some ministry and he has actually a job. But this job consists on being the guard in a school, ONE DAY a week. that is right, he only works one day a week and for that he cashes minimum MONTHLY wage and all the other benefits of the ministry as if he were working 5/7. Of course he is required to so "social work" attend "education" meetings and participate in "revolutionary" activities. But that leaves him with enough time to do odd jobs to supplement his income, having his heath insurance assured by his ministry job. Never mind that the activities where he participates also on occasion are a source of graft...
|Even a left turn lane may be blocked on its own.|
With garbage and crosses.....
On other matters I am surprised that food is not scarcer. That the barricades are lifted often enough has allowed for a steady supply. Oh! you will be missing stuff when you go to the store, if it is open because sometimes they don't, when employees cannot make it in. I was even able to go Tuesday to Francas who does the best coffee cakes in Caracas, even if way over priced. But I know that we live on reserves because in the little business I was able to do the same story came over and over again: the regime is not paying debts, the regime is not allowing for imports of raw materials. At least not in the amounts and variety required to keep the economy flowing at minimal rate. So, that Franca cake, I better enjoy it because who knows how long I will keep getting them.
I forgot another post it story.
I had to take my guest to the emergency room one night. Nothing major but it needed to be checked out. We went at 10 PM and the streets were empty, ghostly. The ER was empty but we still spent almost 4 hours there, 1 hour of bureaucratic paper work, one hour and a half waiting for analysis. So at 2 AM we were driving back. that is when we got blocked! At 2 AM in the middle of Boulevard EL Cafetal there was a gang of not even 12 folks, all masked, setting the guarimba for the next day!
My sickly guest was kind of scared and asked me to drive away that we would get shot but I laughed! Those were actors in a bad play and I watched for a few minutes while they forced another car to go back. We had to make it home though back roads, which were dark and empty and, shall I say, sinister. I have a friend in Valencia who lives in a particularly riotous area who tells me that when she goes to walk the dog at 8 PM she leaves all at home, even her phone because night crime has increased now that streets are deserted and not even police goes around. Not that it went much before , but you get my point.