Throwing his people under the bus


This morning, dozens of families who lost their homes last December took to the streets to protest.

According to press reports, the group was complaining they have been living in a flooded, rat-infested basement for weeks. I guess there wasn’t enough room for them at the Presidential Palace refuge.

So, in the best Venezuelan spirit, they decided nothing better than to try and block traffic on one of Caracas’ main suburban highways.

The problem came when a bus ran four of them over. This graphic, disturbing Globovision video captures when it all happened. I warn you – it’s pretty disturbing.

When your only hope to get a home is to block a highway and demand the President’s attention, well, your institutions have hit rock bottom.

And the President who vowed to give his life for those affected by the flood waters? Well, let’s just say he was busy.

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  1. What I don’t understand is why aren’t the main media outlets talking about this? Neither Globo, EUD, N24 or ND have it in their front pages…

  2. You know who I feel the worse about? The bus driver.

    For all we know, he didn’t even see the people, or did not have enough time to brake. After all, you can’t just slam the brakes on a bus, it’s not like it’s a Corsa. It’s clear from the video these people were aggressively taking over the highway when traffic was fluid.

    And now he’ll probably get mowed down and sent to jail – all because the damnificados decided to stage a protest in front of him when he was doing 4o MPH.

    Que locura.

    • Juan,

      I was thinking the same thing. Now, it just might be that the driver was partly at fault, but what are his chances of getting a fair investigation? No, I would say that it is a foregone conclusion that life, as he knew it, is over.

    • That’s possible, but the drivers aren’t exactly the most considerate all the time either. My former colleague in Caracas had a particularly unpleasant story — her brother was in a traffic confrontation with a bus driver. Both left. The bus driver later in the day found my colleague’s brother at a restaurant and went in and shot him to death.

      Just as it’s possible that he couldn’t brake on time (looks like traffic was flying, and who knows what condition his brakes are in), it’s also possible that he just figured people would get out of his way.

    • Sapito,

      Is the bus driver now in prison?
      What did he get? What did he say?
      Herrera Luque did say it many years ago, Firepigette as well: Venezuela is chock-a-block with psycopats. The thing is in the early XX century they would not become so violent as they would have to use a machete. Now it’s just “pull the trigger”, leave.

  3. I keep saying we need to pay attention to the areas outside Valencia, Caracas and Maracaibo as one of the steps to get rid of Chávez and underdevelopmen in general.

    I just did a little silly search in Twitter for “Guárico”. Although I know twitter
    is just used by a minority, one can get a tiny idea.

    “Gracias a Dios hoy cumplo mi mayoria d edad y mi papa es juramentado como Contralor dl Municipio Guayabal Edo Guarico” ( and several others of friends of the guy congratulating him for that, they are with the robolución, apparently his friends are over-represented among the Guárico tuiteros)
    And then this:
    “@CHAVEZCANDANGA vivo en casa prestada familia 4 personas gano sueldo minimo mi esposa estudia solicito ayuda para vivienda calabozo guarico”
    “@EmmaMilagros @chavezcandanga Cmdte. X que la empresa china de Las Lajitas Guarico no permite usar la bandera de Venezuela y todo en chino?”
    “Cmdte Presi, metále el ojo al diputado Arturo Suarez fué encargado d la Gobernación d Guarico,hay cheqs millonarios dsaparecidos y cobrados”
    There are funnier tweets. Es lo que pasa por comer tanto chicharrón.

  4. This highlights a huge but totally ignored problem in Venezuela – the chaos on the streets and highways, as well as the lack of enforcement of pollution and other laws. The cost in sickness and road fatalities must be huge.


    • Mike, I have a couple of questions about Colombia and biking: how is it going with biking in other cities than Bogotá, specially if warm as Caracas/Valencia?
      Are there any lanes anywhere just for bikes as in Europe outside Bogota?

      I can’t speak about cars elsewhere in Spanish America, but in Venezuela people drive usually like drunk autistic people, only that the issue is not on a genetic defect but an attitude. Most Venezuelans never really had to do a practical test and few really answer to the theoretical one. My sister told me how her theoretical exam was: she sat down, got the paper and when she was going to read the first question she heard the tester: 1 – a, 2 b, 3 a, 4 b, 5…
      – Excuse me, Sir…what is it?
      – Mi amor, son las respuestas.
      – But I want to answer myself.
      – Mira, mi vida, no tengo mucho tiempo, así que lo hacemos así. Repito: ”
      I learnt to drive in Europe. Once I went to Venezuela and asked my sister on the car while she was entering a roundabout whether the rules were the same as in Europe and at that very moment a car came from the wrong way. Wrong way driving in a one-way roundabout is nothing.

      In Caracas or any other urban centre in Venezuela the stench of badly burnt petrol is very strong.

      I suppose it is the same in the rest of South America: we have nothing comparable to the German TÜV whereby one has to get his new car or any car with more than 4 years checked every year (tyres, exhaust and pollution degree, brakes all the way etc, etc, etc). No TÜV certificate, your car is out of the road in two weeks less you recheck it and it passes the test.
      How’s it where you come from? I suppose in the US is similar to here and it could serve as an example to what we need implement.

    • Venezuelan drivers behave like sociopaths. The “pros”, bus, taxi and motorcycle messengers, are the worst of the lot. Specially in popular areas, or roads that unfortunately are surrounded by “barrios”. They are either maniacs, or behave like scarcely moving roadblocks.

      They make you want to really run somebody over. Specially people who cannot get it in their little, teensy, heads that a road is for going through at more than 30 Km/h. The road is not for turning you truck around and is not an extension of the parking lot. The road is not a bus stop. You should pull over to the side if you got to stop.

      A constantly renewing pool of automotive vehicles is a must for pollution control. Guess what happens when due to an insane economy that produces nothing, used cars, instead of being sold for scrap, command astronomical prices. New cars, however… don’t think about a new car.

    • I know that there are some bike lanes on rural roads outside of Bogota, and I believe that there are also in Medellin and probably other cities.

      But lots of the bike paths are really substandard. I’ve written about them on my other blog:

      I recall the total traffic chaos in Caracas. Here in Bogota, at least you can expect people to generally stop at stoplights and to have lights at night and license plates on their cars….

  5. Estos cuatro segundos de esta tragedia nos abre una ventana para explicar porque estamos como estamos.

    Esto amigos se llama “descomposicion social” lo mas aterrador no es el accidente, es el hecho de que un grupo de gente se lanze a una via principal de alta velocidad a buscar atencion. Sera porque:

    1)Nadie los atendiende en los refugios del gobierno. Esto de los refugios es una bomba social porque se ha hecho todo improvisado y hay hacinamiento. El desespero de ellos de volver a tener su propio hogar y no vivir arrimado, asi la vivienda que les den sea un rancho, es motivo suficiente para buscar atraer la atencion para que les resuelvan su situacion.

    En un pais organizado, estas quejas se hubieran atendido a traves de un ente claramente definido y con normativas a seguir, que sean claras para todos. En un pais responsable, sus ciudadanos serian felices sabiendo que pueden confiar en las instituciones del gobierno, porque saben que pueden ver en donde estan parados mientras sus quejas se atienden. Aqui lamentablemente la respuesta oficial es: “estamos en eso”

    2)No hay policias o transito terrestre que sepan controlar las carreteras y lo que pasa en ellas. Cuando la gente se toma la ley por las manos y actuan de esta manera, no solo arriesgan su vida sino la otros tambien.Que esa gente llegara a una autopista y se lanzaran contando con la buena fe de que los conductores se iban a parar por ser ellos transeuntes, es pedir un favor muy grande, cuando son precisamente en las autopistas donde reina la anarquia.

    Cuando la gente salia para alla a la autopista, ningun policia o agente de transito comunico esa posible situacion para que se evitara un mal mayor en primer lugar? y si lo hicieron y lo reportaron, porque no se envio ayuda immediatamente?. Ahi se queda la reputacion de los que estan encargados de hacer cumplir la ley y asi es como se desmorona la fe en los funcionarios publicos.

    Ahi se ven unos uniformados, pero segun la reseña, no fue sino horas despues que segun se permitio un canal de paso, es decir las fuerzas policiales son inefectivas y aqui se hace lo que se da la gana, eso el pueblo lo ve, y eso amigos genera zozobra y caos.

    3)Que todos estamos tan “jorobados” que ni los conductores se calan “otro trancazo”. Porque, al igual que los damnificados, ellos tienen mil problemas tambien y es como “mucho demasiado” para estos conductores, que se estan tratando de ganar su vida, tener que aguantar otra interrupcion.

    Y es que los trancazos de vias publicas, desde el punto de vista de los conductores, es otro mal que sumandose a la falta de repuestos, lo caro que es reparar un vehiculo y el hecho que se pierde tiempo en algo ajeno, son cosas que ellos no pueden ayudar a resolver, y solo sirve para incrementar el stress y los malos ratos a todos los que estan ahi en ese momento.

    Ahi tambien se ve en el viedo, lo desesperado que un conductor esta por salir de ese sitio mientras que los manifestantes le golpean el carro, pero es el conductor el malo de la obra? No! el no sabe porque ese gentio esta ahi, quizas hasta lo atraquen! aqui la mentalidad es de “salvese quien pueda” y diganme uds sino hubieran hecho lo mismo? No llegara esa persona a casa y les dira a otros: “Ahi estaban unos locos en la via tirando cosas, menos mal que pude escapar de ese rollo” y al oir eso no es fuente de malestar para otros? asi es como el bienestar se nos carcome un poco mas dia a dia, con noticias asi.

    Tambien vemos que son varios los vehiculos de transporte de personas y bienes los que aparecen en el video, eso es el salario de un venezolano que necesita para comer, y un” trancazo” de esos les cuesta a ellos el dinero necesario para sobrevivir. Si el autobus no llega a tiempo no puede recojer mas pasajeros que le dara plata para los gastos del vehiculo y para comer.

    4) La tragedia sigue mas alla de ese momento, ahora hay cuatro venezolanos en hospitales que estan mal equipados y dotados y eso es otro calvario que ellos van a vivir. Quien no sabe de el ruleteo que se le dan aqui a los heridos y enfermos porque no hay insumos o el personal medico en los hospitales?

    Aun asi, doy gracias a Dios que nadie murio, pero aqui la culpa es de todos…

    • I agree. Although I feel for the person that got run over (nobody should have to endure having a bus pass over them) the notion that somehow blocking a road will get you what you want is ridiculous. All over Latin America, interest groups and factions seize roads as a way to get their point across. The only thing they’ll achieve is pissing everyone off, whether it be cars or mass transport, because everyone is then late for work. It almost seems as if we Latin Americans have lost our basic survival instincts. No, don’t step into the middle of the road, you might get killed. This appears to be an alien concept to many in our hemisphere. Also, I like how the guardista and transito cops that run to stop the bus did absolutely nothing to stop the damnificados from placing themselves and the drivers on the road at risk. Man, what a region.

  6. If you notice in the video the GN was right there.

    Why did they allow these people to try & block the highway?
    In my mind they are as responsible as the bus driver.

  7. Anyone trying to block a highway should expect to be ran over by a vehicle. Thinking otherwise is retarded. Highways are for vehicles, not people.


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