Monday, April 08, 2013

Democracy peaceful last stand: the opposition does its mother of all marches

I do not know how to explain what happened today in Caracas. I have gone through 10 years of marches and nothing was like today. Never did I see as many people, never did I see such a positive mood. And amen of chavistas either subdued or, well, friendly.  It is in the wind....

I took plenty of pictures and I am putting some below, sort of in the order they happened. I hope you enjoy them. The last one is from Avenida Bolivar which I managed to reach but did not dare to enter as you will understand easily. I did not reduce it as much as the others so if you click to enlarge you can see in the fog the stand where Capriles would arrive for his speech about an hour later. A speech, by the way, which was stunning, and the harshest attack yet on Maduro.  Also, I did take some pictures with my Blackberry that I tweeted live. You can go and see them at @danielduquenal

The flow arriving from Altamira at Chacaito
The frangipani are blooming. I thought I'd share. :)

This is the crush starting at the Solano avenue, the march funnel. The arch in the distant back is the one from the video below.

This is a spur of the moment video. My first HD but youtube did not pick it up and it is more blurred than on my computer copy ... Anyway, it is not a big deal but you can get some of the festive feel.

Entering the Solano there are several buildings which are lodging  refugees since 2010. Some are getting tired. For one, they were less aggressive than usual, but also they are switching towards Capriles as this stunning picture shows. I am quite proud of that p icture;)  These people have been occupying a derelict hotel for more than 2 years and Mision Vivienda or not there is no relief in sight for them. Or is there some coming April 14?

This time around, with Chavez gone, there is less tension between chavismo and opposition, and a truck can be parked on a side street doing there stuff without any harm happening to anyone. Is this the start of a reconciliation?

I also liked this opportunity to see the fake (reconstructed)  Bolivar giant poster form PDVSA building looking down on his "children" while Caracas soul, the Avila, peers through the calina, warm weather pre rain season thick atmosphere.

Another window with refugees that go now with Capriles. They are taking pictures of people cheering them!

Exiting Solano Avenue and reaching Plaza Venezuela.

Charming street vendors that wanted me to have their picture taken!
More chavistas trying to hold the fort, but all very good natured. They even posed with whomever wanted to have a picture taken with them.

The entry and the exit of the tunnel under plaza Venezuela.

Get your Capriles head gear.
Entering the welcoming shade of Los Caobos park, en route for Avenida Bolivar. The following picture is taken on the left side of this one.
Homeless makeshift housing, on the edge of Caracas open sewer,, the Gûaire River. 14 years of revolution and this is still an everyday occurrence. Where are the Misiones?

Here at the very end/edge of Bolivar Avenue, on an overpass of sorts leading to ex-Hilton. Needless to say that I did not even consider getting down to the avenue and went instead looking for the next exit subway...

PS: if you have pictures that you think may add to this series, please send them in.


  1. Your video is in HD. It takes awhile to process.

  2. Island Canuck1:53 AM

    I watched this all afternoon & heard the whole speech.

    It was over an hour which for Capriles is an eternity compared to the previous campaign.

    It was an excellent hard hitting speech full of warmth & humour. Referring to the millions lost in the security balloons & saying that they must of ended up in Juan Barreto's stomach. Loved that one.

    Referring to Maduro's well known work history & his penchant for sleeping late.
    "Tu eres un vago chico"

    Referring to Maduro's claim that assassins are coming for him Capriles said:
    "Nicolás, no seas ridículo, chico"

    Really, really impressive. Even to the point of assuring the audience that he will win next Sunday.

    I have promised myself that I will not become invested emotionally this time.
    Not like last October.
    All the family will vote on Sunday but I'll come back & watch the last round of The Masters from Augusta - not stay glued to Twitter only to have our hopes dashed at the last minute.

    But I'm feeling in my stomach a possible hope. Much more so than 3 weeks ago.
    What will be will be. We can only hope.

    1. Island: I'm in the same boat... I'm trying not to get so emotional this time! but, but... after watching his speech yesterday and seeing these photos, I'm very hopeful :)

    2. Nothing wrong with hope, Liz. I'm with you and i.c. I'll be voting this Sunday, driving for over 2 hours to do so. At night I may be disappointed. And that feeling may last a day, or two. But life goes on. In the meanwhile, I'm enjoying watching from afar The Master in Caracas -- meaning, the evolution of Capriles as a political master. So glad he switched political strategists this time.

  3. Anonymous3:25 AM

    Excellent pictures ! We need to keep the hopes high (and of course also vote !)

    With regards to the HQ video, you can always select a lower resolution for a quicker download, 360 or 240 (for lousy connections - less then 40 kb /s)

    On the pessimist side, what do you think of this rumor ?

    DolarToday ‏@DolarToday 21m

    Alto gobierno se reúne en la residencia del embajador cubano para analizar consecuencias de suspensión de elecciones


    1. Suspending elections is an option the regime has used. In 2000 a 3 month extension allowed the regime to gain extra governor and mayor seats.

      Without Chavez to save their butts anything will go.

  4. Laura3:31 AM

    Daniel, gracias, gracias por estar alli y transmitirnos la emocion y la esperanza! I managed to see (more or less) all of Henrique's speech, in spite of Dailymotion having fits here and there. Is there any better alternative that you could suggest?

    His words are the reasons why I cannot imagine any other retirement than to return to help rebuild mi patria; esta tierra que aunque uno la deje, nunca lo deja a uno. Last time I was in CCS I smuggled back a pressed franginpani flower to my partner; may today bring us closer to the time when he will be able to see them in person. I will be looking forward even more than usual to my daily (at least!!) read of your blog, all the way from Indiana!

  5. Daniel, freat day indeed. I'll forward some from Avenida Bolivar

    1. I meant great, my phone plays games on me, sorry

  6. Ronaldo5:49 AM

    Maduro and his Cuban handlers must be very concerned at this point. Maduro is a cheap bumbling imitation of Chavez with no new ideas but plenty of threats and ugly consequences if he loses.

    Maduro's best hope is to take his name off the ballot and put Hugo Chavez' name on the ballot. Later he can claim Chavez is incapacitated and takeover again. A dead Hugo Chavez is preferred over a live Maduro. At least this is the message Maduro keeps on saying.

    1. Anonymous7:20 AM

      Not a bad idea. There is even precedences for that, see: Korea (North).

  7. Wonderful, Daniel! Loved the photos. Toítos. There's a sense of immediacy and belonging in your vantage points that one doesn't get from more distant, albeit impressive shots that measure the breadth of the pro-Capriles camp in Caracas.

    As for your comment on the more subdued, even good-natured chavistas, sure didn't seem that way from the video clip of the motorizados ahead of Maduro, both entering Sn Fernando (Apure, Toripollo) .

    I'm looking for Capriles' speech by video, can't find, would appreciate a link. Very much liked his opinion.

    He is, without a doubt, the best candidate for the job. I'm sensing stronger and stronger winds of change.

    Thank you for being there.

    1. There is a difference between those that ride with Maduro and those that are sent to fixed posts, probably paid or forced to go. I doubt not for a minute that a Capriles victory will generate violence with groups like La Piedrita.

    2. Syd, I found the video linked from this article:

    3. Thank you, sinon. Qué emoción.

    4. Here it is Syd. All of it.

    5. Good omen? I'm not superstitious, but you'd think so!
      In the first 12 seconds of the televised clip, a white pigeon walks behind Capriles and towards the film crew.

      Thank you for this, Carolina!

    6. ok, back from lunch. Before then, I was suffering from Maduritis. I had pajaritos en la cabeza. Back to reality, white pigeons or not.

  8. margareth12:12 PM

    Moses: Alto gobierno se reúne en la residencia del embajador cubano para analizar consecuencias de suspensión de elecciones

    If they suspend the eleccions, I am sure people will become mad. "Mentira Fresca" is on their minds.

    1. Island Canuck2:56 PM

      In my opinion it's too late for that.

      There's no believable reason that they could come up with that would not result in widespread confrontations & violence. Bottom line - no one would believe them.

      Also they keep saying Capriles is going to pull out of the race, has his bags packed to leave the country, etc. Just wishful thinking on their part.

      There will be an election on Sunday.

    2. Ronaldo4:12 PM

      The election will not be suspended. What little popularity Maduro has is decreasing by the minute. A general opinion expressed on blogs over the last 3 months is that Maduro needed a quick election to win. The Chavez mystique will wear off if Maduro waits too long. Moreover, the economy is tanking.

      Maduro and company are not afraid of domestic violence. Hell, the crime rate is sky high and and Maduro is hard pressed to mention it. Maduro expects the military to step in and stop all protests. I am not sure the military will give their allegiance to a Cuban trained leader who talks to little birdies and wants to place plantanos in human orifices.

      Chavez never feared elections. If Maduro hesitates, then he will never be like a true Chavez.

  9. I am not into predictions, as there are so many possible scenarios and the importance is to remain firm and steadfast with one's beliefs, reflecting them in all that we do.

    I hope this is not Democracy's last stand.I would hope that people do not give up if setbacks should occur.

    Persistence is important.Firepigette

  10. Daniel my dear, gracias por las fotos!!!

  11. Great post, Daniel. I can't help but have my "uncanny valley" tapped into when I see that computer reconstruction of Bolivar. Creepy, in my opinion.

  12. Thanks for the post and pics Daniel!

    I am with Island Canuck here, despite the massive movilization, the phone tracking polls, the hoopla and the rest, I need to refrain from getting my hopes up.

    Unlike Canuck (No critcism implied, BTW) I'll spend my Sunday helping to make the voting process flow smoothly here in DC and keep a positive attitude, but I doubt that Capriles will win the presidency, por ahora. And even if this is so, anybody who can should vote, no excuses. Because in politics as in opera, it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

    There are two races for Sunday, as I see it.

    One is for the presidency and the other is another building block for the future. Capriles will certainly win the latter, and I hope and pray he also wins the former.

    I also hope that if he does lose on Sunday, that he and the MUD do not go meekly, I hope they insist that all actas be scrutinized, that all doubts be answered and that there is no repeat of the reaction on Oct. 7th.

    There is going to be plenty of cloth to be cut an the night of April 14th.

    1. Island Canuck7:28 PM

      As a Canadian I can't legally get involved &, in fact, it's better if I stay in the background to avoid any potential problems. That doesn't mean that I don't care or that I'm not deeply affected by the results.

      Last October I was in a state of depression for weeks. Couldn't comment, cancelled most of whom I follow on my Twitter account, wouldn't read the news & just generally gave up. Now I'm back in a toned down way & if we lose on Sunday my life will continue. I have no other choice or options.

      Even though I have lived here for many years a relative in SAIME recommended that I wait to get my citizenship papers.

      Plus The Masters is one of my annual TV highlights. :-)

    2. I hear you mano. If I were there I too would keep a low profile.

      One of these days, in a better time and place I too will be going to SAIME..............

  13. Daniel, Your pics and report are amazing!thank you Daniel! It is inspiring. but unfortunately, I believe the apparatchik of Chavismo will win, as much as it makes me ill to say it. They control the media, they control the military, they will give out microwave ovens, etc., as usual; promise everything... and so it shall be unfortunately. Oh I wish Capriles could win this, he deserves it! The people deserve it. I think if he had four or six more weeks he could pull it off. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that a miracle occurs. your report tonight, gave me hope.


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