Closer and closer to the edge…

Soldiers in the metro, soldiers at the big east-side shopping mall (the Sambil), soldiers downtown. Tank and APV movements around Caracas in the middle of the night over the weekend. A president convinced that a conspiracy is a foot. The mayor of greater Caracas warning that the order to put a tank batallion on the streets has already been handed down. Over the weekend, the Secretary General of the most moderate of the opposition parties (Unión) was picked up off of the streets, roughed up, and dumped back out again, in an episode that’s too reminiscent of the Estrella Castellanos incident, (though unlike Estrella, Esculpi was also robbed, so it may not have been politically motivated.) Raids on opposition figures’ houses, yielding evidence that looks blatantly trumped up. Chávez saying flat out that more raids are coming. More threats against opposition leaders. And to top it all off, a mass-march, called for Thursday, that will probably bring out tens of thousands of people into the streets, into this suffocating nerve-wracking atmosphere…

Things have been tense in Caracas for so long you’d think we’d have gotten used to it by now. But the tension is palpably rising now, reaching suffocating extremes. The big headline in El Universal, one of the big opposition-run dailies, today is “The Armed Forces have an obligation to intervene,” it’s a quote from an interview with Tejera Paris. Meanwhile, General Medina Gómez syas he has a secret bunker that military intelligence hasn’t found yet and that he’s leading the military resistance from there. That, however, is no insider tip: it was quite shamelessly published in El Nacional! The rumors keep on coming, thick and fast. Total militarization is imminent, they say, stoking that old favorite, the fear of a State of Exception (our very own euphemism for a state of emergency, which allows for constitutional guarantees to be temporarily suspended.) The Metropolitan Police is on the cusp of being taken over by the central government. Chávez will declare Thursday’s march illegal and bring soldiers out on the streets to block it. The government has a secret plan in case of a coup, and it’ll be bloody as hell. The rumors keep coming, intermingling with the truth in a complex soup that’s increasingly hard to pick apart.

After reading Ibsen’s Sunday piece, all of the above is freaking me out in a way that I’d never been freaked out before. Until recently I’d found it all vaguely ridiculous, laughable. I was sure it couldn’t last, it was too stupid. But now…

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Known to friend and foe alike as Quico, Francisco Toro is Executive Editor at Caracas Chronicles.


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