I just came back from la Academia Militar, after 8 hours of lines and shoving and a metallic sun and a magenta sunburn. I did not get to see Chavez, and neither will at least 3/4ths of the people who are there patiently waiting, yes, crying and singing since before dawn today. They are determined to see their comandante, and I cannot stress enough how impossible this wish will be to fulfill.
As I walked back along the 1,5 kms. or so of lines upon lines upon lines of people, and saw the eager faces of thousands upon thousands of supporters, many old ladies, children, pregnant mothers … I felt really sad for them, for they will be disappointed.
The casket viewing process is magnanimously disorganized. There’s no police or military oversight except for 100 students of the Universidad Nacional de Seguridad who are guarding the front gate of the entrance to Chávez’s coffin-room. Other than that, people are left entirely up to their own devices. There are no ropes, no signs, no first-aid tents for all the people I saw fainting of heat stroke. The entirety of Los Próceres Boulevard is flanked by puddles of piss because there are too few portapotties. Every now and then, there is a water truck, but not much else by way of anticipating such a large and uncontrolled agglomeration of people. Nobody even knew where the cola started. I counted five different winding queues, spread out over the massive stretch of pavement, which all started arbitrarily and led to nowhere in particular.
As an aside for chisme, I talked to a lady who had just seen Chávez. She told me he was purplish. Apparently the 8 hours he spent decomposing in the sun yesterday took a toll on his appearance.
All in all, I would say this epic and spectacular failure is kind of a metaphor for how the government will act from now on, completely improvised, mismanaged, irresponsable, and incapable of properly planning for both obvious and unforeseen complications.
Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported.
Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.Donate