Before I narrate and comment my experience let me remind the reader that what I went through is nothing when considering what happened to the front line or to those unfortunate that end up in chavist dungeon for fighting for their freedom. My point here is that if a plain citizen on foot is already subjected to such scenes, well... you get my point.
I have not been marching for about three weeks. A bad cold, lots of work for my S.O., lots of work problem. So I was looking toward yesterday mass rally as a way to get back into the groove. The objective was to show the extent of the protest, after two months and a half of such, while the OAS had a major meeting where Venezuela was a main concern (it did not do any good because of some Caribbean shitty island state but that is another story).
I went with my brother and it all went well until we climbed on top of the "Cienpies"exchange, the span that connects to the Prados del Este highway. I had never gone that high on the exchange and it was quite a sight. I posted this video in Instagram. What is notable, in addition of the obvious, is that these many people did go out again. Maybe not the humongous marches of two months ago, but world class on their own and a testimony of the resolve of the people. And talking to some of them it is clear that if they cannot march as frequently as they used to do, they will gladly go to any major convocation. And face the consequences.
And these consequences showed up. First in the below picture I caught from afar the moment where the repression machine started, the small ascending clouds of gasses that are pointed in the picture below. Seeing that, I told my brother that it was time to go, that our vantage point also made us a prime target. He wanted to go toward Chacao, I said otherwise because any treacherous attack by the Nazional Guard would come that way. As it happened later, indeed. Note: that route can be seen midway in the video above.
|First gases. Observe that only retreat is possible and the risk of harmful stampede great.|
So we walked for a while in the opposite direction and made our way to the CCCT shopping center. After all we had done out part and are too old, and unequipped, to stand up to the guards and their assault motorbikes (and hidden guns that were proven to illegally be carried later on that day, resulting hours ago in the firing of the Nazional Guard head by the regime in front of the international outcry).
The first bad surprise is that all vehicle access were closed, the CCCT being tired of having Nazional Guard bikers barging in the underground parkings to shoot people and tear gas. Fortunately there was still two on foot entries still open. So we got inside.
While we were having a quick lunch we saw the first arrivals of retreating marchers, and fighters. 4 of them took seat next to us, one of them all bedecked like a baseball catcher and with a pellet wound. nasty enough but clearly the guy was unmoved and got his lunch, before going back to fight. But even his lunch was going to be unstable: we heard a big roar from inside the mall. Apparently some guard tried to enter and all luncheoning guest rose fast in unison from their seat ready to take flight, or move forward as I did, following my injured warrior.
So that was that, we knew that we were surrounded and there was nothing left but to watch from behind the wall glasses the parking lot fighting. Because I was against the sun and because I took only my cheap basic cel phone (they rob you so my good one cannot march anymore) I could not get a good view.
The mist on the right is tear gas thrown at the parking CCCT. Even against my phone catches it. pic.twitter.com/DeaDBgSQs1— daniel duquenal (@danielduquenal) June 19, 2017
That tweet from the spot is the best pic I managed to take. Still you can observe on the right the mist of tear gas (we could feel them at time inside the mall, behind the heavy glass panels), on top some of the kids breaking stones and pavement to throw at the guards (or even throwing back some of the canisters of gas). And some taking a break on the left side. I also noticed some with golf drivers, a must now to return back bombs.
But another spectacle was taking place in that hallway: two injured kids. One had a forehead injury duly taken care of by the general public who seems to be carrying kits of all sorts of things these days. The other was on the floor, in tears, with a heavily bandaged knee. His cries were of rage at all the folks in the mall shopping and eating while he was fighting for us. And saying that he had lost a nephew to repression a few days ago. Needless to describe the commotion. Or to meekly try to explain that not all of us are born warriors.
To make a long story short twice we tried to escape the CCCT and twice we were driven back in by the tear gas. Eventually it started raining and we managed to escape to the center next door, "Cubo Negro" as rain washes gas. But that was not a solution. When we went a little further trying to get on our way back to the car, we were trapped. On one side, as we were basically alone we saw a stream of maybe 30 bikes from police. Any could have stopped and rob us as they routinely seem to be doing.
But worse from where I was in could see North the billowing clouds up from Altamira, and hearing the explosions; West I saw how CCCT was attacked again with a thick cloud of gas after something like three loud explosion; South the echo coming from Las Mercedes many explosions. And East the threat of more cops coming through.
Eventually we found a group of four we joined and made our way to Chuao and past it to our car.
It had lasted 6 hours.
And in the three weeks I had not marched it has become quite a thing to attend and suffer through these events. People have changed. They have toughened.