Hey Quico: here's a steaming pile of words for you to eat.

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Check out this protest in non-middle-class-sifrino-stronghold-Altamira, but very-much-western-Caracas-working class Caricuao. That’s a grand total of three subway stops from Antimano, the neighbourhood where Quico was telling us just this morning we’d never see  protests.*

El oeste del oeste, pues.

Pics were taken around 5:00 p.m. today.

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*(see subway map for reference: Zoológico Station)

Mmap1vg1

1 COMMENT

    • They way I see it is that Quico has a point when it comes to the perfect timing Of these evebt for the government. The chaos within the revolution is old news now.
      On the other hand a LOT of Venezuelans are fed up. How could we ask them to stay put from here (overseas, Canada in my case).

    • I will refrain from puting a bottle of champagne on ice yet, even though I’ve seen demonstrators in La Isabelica and Santa Rosa in the last days (C-D class chavista base areas of Valencia), there’s still a loooooooooooooooong way to go, especially considering the army is very much happy under the current goverment, what I see is the opposition minority of those areas protesting, when I see chavistas revolting I will put my champagne on ice. These protests are a long shot at best.

      The goverment is playing with fire though, I think it would have been best for them to just let these demonstrations fade away alone by attrition, teasing and provoking the opposition might bring them rewards in the short and mid term but it’s a risky tactic.

    • Even though Quico is eating his own words, I still stand by his initial opinion: It is not only that Caricuao is not Antimano, but it is a matter of taking a step back and see the big picture here:

      Just one year ago we were considering in this very same blog that Cabello’s strategy was to let Maduro take the full hit of the economy mismanagement, and then take over government, either himself or one of his minions. What is happening in Venezuela right now is still playing nicely for Cabello: As far as we know, he has enough support within the military, so he can dump Maduro under the bus, kick out the Cubans from Venezuela, take a few responsible economic actions, and become the hero for a vast part of the population, chavista or not.

      In addition: are we ready to walk the walk?. If by a miracle a leader with economic knowledge becomes Venezuela’s ruler today, what would happen if he says to the people: in order to start cleaning up this mess, we must let the dollar float around 61.36 BsF/USD, and the liter of gasoline must be sold, at least, at 55 BsF?. What would happen then.

      This is a very old movie. folks. Just today we have 31 years of that fateful February 18th, 1983, a date better known as “Viernes Negro”. We have at least 31 years running in circles.

      • The writer is correct. And has a well made point.
        This goes right to the heart of the circular problem. Everyone likes getting rid of incompetent leaders, yet most do not like to tolerate “competent” economic measures and the momentary (6 months to 18 months) pain they inflict….. a paradox that can be resolved only if a leader is strong enough to hold the line for the duration until the point of infliction is reached ….

  1. i agree Rodrigo, but you can’t deny that Caricuao, while located in the “west of the west” has traditionally been a middle class area/lower-middle class, while i agree that it is not a place where its traditional to see opposition marches and rallys (like in other west neighborhoods like Montalban or El Paraiso) it is not precisely a “slum”. If i recall correctly, Caricuao was one of the parishes where Ismael Garcia won in the municipal elections…

  2. There is a fundamental flaw in Quico’s logic that people in Antimano won’t identify with protests in Altamira because they are different culturally or from different classes. People tend to identify with other people that are suffering the same fate regardless of cultural factors. They look past their differences when there is a common cause. In 2002/2003 people in Antimano were mostly happy with their new president and they couldn’t understand what the people in the east of Caracas were protesting about. So they shrugged it off and laughed about it as Chavez made fun of the opposition.

    Today the difference is all Venezuelans are suffering the same fate. They are all feeling it every day. Except for the political discrimination and oppression everyone is suffering from crime, scarcity, inflation, blackouts. No one is laughing anymore.

    • Amieres when you have no intimate contacts with people in the barrios you cannot feel their pulse.I may be wrong but I doubt Quico does.I have family in Las Minas, Catia, Caricuao and other places, and they tell me that MOST people are sick and tired of the government.They are hungry and they are afraid. If they are less likely to protest at times, just think about it. There are far more’ malandros’ on the look out for oppos in those neighborhoods than there are in the East.Far more malandros period.They have more to be afraid of .

    • So, protests should not be discounted as a tool for the opposition. It is false that our protests are not good because we are too bourgeois. Everyone from any class that have a grievances with the government will jump aboard and join their voices to be heard.

      But people should not expect that protests are going to topple the government. They cannot do that. Yes I know it’s happened in other places, but usually what you see is only the tip of the iceberg. When protests ends up with a government falling it usually is because the government was already collapsing, the protest was only the visible event.

      Protests should be part of a long term strategy, a POLITICAL STRATEGY to convey a message. And the message is simple: the government sucks, furthermore, the revolution sucks, it has only brought pain and suffering and not much else. That is it, a common cause, a simple message. Transmitted in different ways by everyone that wants to join in. Protests are just one way to transmit the message. Not a contest of wills against Maduro/Cabello. A message for all Venezuelans.

      Now that we don’t have TV coverage as much as before, the message can still reach far and wide.

      • I disagree….what comes from the heart and what is authentic has far more power than protesting” smart”.

        These students are non violently, but passionately expressing their anger, their fear,and their frustrations.What could be better than that? Would could move people more than that?

        The power of instinct, and of heart in these matters is far greater than sophistication….and will be understood by more people.

        • So if their hearts tell them to go burn up some buildings, throw rocks and beat some cops or chavista supporters, just because they’re angry and fed up, you would justify that as being “authentic” and “more powerful” and applaud it, and truly believe that more people would understand it?

          Sorry, but one of the main reasons I don’t support chavismo is because they are the embodiment of double standards: everything done by the opposition is fascism, racism, part of an evil, right-winged imperialist scheme to make the poor suffer; but when they do exactly the same, then it’s wonderful, non-reproachable and done solely for the greater good of the people. I do not support violence in any form, not even if you are fed up and angry; students should protest and I wholeheartedly support them, but it should indeed be done in a smart way. It’s about time we learned that.

          • I’m sorry if you feel I twisted your arguments in order to make my own, I apologize. Actually, I wasn’t really trying to make an argument, I was sincerely asking you a question. So let me rephrase it: do you justify violence when protesting? Do you think that using violence in the protests will lead the opposition to a better place than not using violences?

            I think I made it clear that I fully support the protests, but I feel about them the same way that amieres does in his previous comment, i.e. “people should not expect that protests are going to topple the government”, and “protests should be part of a long term strategy, a POLITICAL STRATEGY to convey a message.” If that message contains violence and non-democratic values, I think the message is mistaken.

            Also, I think I made it very clear also that I am not chavista, not only in this post but on previous ones, but it’s perfectly possible that you haven’t read them. So let me say it without a hint of a doubt: no, I am not chavista, and have never been. I have never agreed with having a military man to rule the country. I firmly believe in the separation of powers. I am against all forms of discrimination. And as I said before, I have a big problem with double standards. As in complaining that chavistas can’t take criticism and blindly follow what their leaders tell them to do and to think, and then doing exactly the same when someone criticizes my own side. I don’t want you to feel I’m using another straw man argument, so I’ll rephrase that, too: do you really think that because I’m being critic of a certain way that the protests could turn and because I’m expressing my disagreement with you, that must immediately raise the doubt that I’m chavista?

        • With the pervasiveness of Twitter and other social media, why not flashprotests?

          After all, the threat to protesters are the GNB, police and colectivos/motorizados, Turn the traffic and supposed mobility against them. In a city like Caracas, a flashprotest of 10-20 minutes would snarl up local traffic (moreso than it already is) and effectively shut down that road. Disperse and have others repeat somewhere else several blocks away.

          Do it at strategic points, like the metro stations above, along with key intersections, and you’d massively disrupt things and then vanish before the police or anyone else could respond.

          This is especially effective when you have a large urban and responsive population group distributed over a relatively wide area: rather than utilize a huge mass of people like a large axe, use smaller groups to cut with a thousand paper cuts. That would be far more maddening than a single large protest that is predictable and, with enough force, crushed.

          I remember Chavez stating the need for asymmetric warfare against the U.S. when they would “invade”. Who says peaceful asym-warfare tactics (yes, I am aware of the contradiction in terms) can’t be used against the government?

          • I have proposed some form of flash mob actions, although I wouldn’t call them “flash mob”. Eso es para niñas y niños pijos.
            It shouldn’t be about showing the white hands again and some cool pose. No! That’s going to be an insult for people who are just about surviving.
            What you should do is organise flash propaganda actions.
            To do that you need to organise a group of clever people writing down a message with real, solid, rich information content: about who is stealing what, about the corruption scandals, about how exactly money could be used in that area with the money Rodriguez gave to his amigos in PDVSA, about how Venezuelans are the only ones who have to queue up in South America for
            getting all kinds of products, about how a teacher in Chile can afford a tiny flat and food but a teacher in Venezuela couldn’t afford to rent a flat for a week, but Venezuela has spent more on weapon imports than any other bloody South American country.

            THAT is what the students need to do. Not parade their dreadlocks and their cool T-shirts to people who have never been abroad and who very likely do not have a single book at home.

  3. I don’t think these photos answer the more important question — which is, have these protests moved us closer to or farther from real change?

    Maybe that’s not going to be something we can answer in the very short-term.

    To consider:

    (1) when Maduro declared an economic war, his numbers went UP — his approval went up, not down. That’s important because it reminds us as of very recently, people were not necessarily in agreement with our understanding of what has happened to the economy — AND because it reminds us that in the land of media restrictions, the government’s version of events wins. They get to tell their story over and over on television, the most powerful medium, and we get to tell snippets of our story, here and there.

    (2) many Venezuelans who are fed up with the difficulties and dangers of the status quo STILL have something to lose. People are really afraid of prolonged and violent conflict.

    The students are brave and amazing and deserve support — but they also deserve leadership…and a strategy.

    • But you’d agree that if tomorrow you see 14 little Zoologico Station protests scattered around similar types of areas – 400 guys in Casalta, 250 in Palo Verde, 2000 in Caucagüita, 300 in Propatria – with GN units shuffling around from one place to another trying to put out fires, suddenly you switch from a situation where Maduro is laughing all the way to the bank to one where he has a serious problem.

  4. My contrarian take:

    1. Caricuao is middle class. It might not be sifrino, but it is a consolidated neighbourhood around lower middle class (both white collar and blue collar; school teachers, trade unionists, small bureaucrats, small shop owners) from Leoni to Luis Herrera. Even Diego Arria -who did a lot for the place- campaigned there safely back in 2011-2012. Since 2007-8 it has been in a dad heat (unless you discard the less conslidated areas, like Ruiz Pineda, where the pro-chavismo percentage is around 10% more, in average, than the general results in the parroquia). The historical inhabitants

    2. I stand by my assessment regarding mass politics: anyone who commands more than 10% of support can have a big gathering.

    Caricuao pro-Chavsmo Votes (by%):
    2004: 55,24%
    2006: 62,51%
    2007: 45,94-45,44%
    2008: 52,96%
    2009: 50,36%
    2010: 46,25% (MUD’s lista won)
    2012: 52%
    2013: 47,97% (Capriles won with 51,38)

    So… No.

      • Gran cosa… No suma, aún, al número nacional. Caricuao es de clase media, pero son tan clasistas que no se dan cuenta de eso.

          • Pana, (Gtaveledo) yo entiendo tu punto y lo suscribo. Sin duda, quienes están en la calle ni son la mayoría del país ni hay gente de la base chavista. Son, de hecho, la base opositora. Muy bien. Pero creo que se ha llegado a un punto en el que ya no se puede decir que son “las cuatro señoras de la Plaza Altamira”, sino que, de veras, hay un gran número de personas en las calles, movidas por una verdadera indignación, no necesariamente una indignación tumba-gobiernos, pero sí una rabia que no se veía en la época de Chávez, esa arrechera de salir a exigir respeto y a exigir que, al menos, se reconozca que existen los demás y que sus problemas deben ser atendidos. Y aunque entiendo tu suspìcacia respecto a quienes creen que “el gobierno está a punto de caer”, o, “el pueblo de Venezuela está protagonizando su primavera tropical”, también pienso que estás subestimando demasiado a las personas que están en la calle protestando.

      • exactly, I am fully aware that Caricuao is middle-class and has seen more than one massive cacerolazo and public anti-chavismo gathering in the past, but it still feels good to see a protest on the west side of Caracas. my hat off to the massively balled men and women of Caricuao.

  5. The regular, traditional people from Caricuao at first welcomed Chavismo’s influx of State money to their dilapidated infrastructure, but as of late, have begun to resent the encroachment of new buildings ans invasions.

  6. “Las urbanizaciones de la parroquia Caricuao tienen el nombre de Unidades de Desarrollo, mejor conocidas como UD (UD1,UD2,UD3,UD4,UD5,UD6,UD7) cuya construcción data de la década de los 70, fueron construidas para satisfacer todas las necesidades básicas de sus residentes y cuentan con parques, canchas deportivas, iglesias, escuelas y liceos tanto públicos como privados, supermercados, pequeños centros comerciales, plazas, etc. Actualmente la mayoría de los habitantes de dichas urbanizaciones pertenecen a la clase media.”
    http://caricuaofotohistoria.blogspot.com/p/historia.html

    I mean, REALLY.

  7. I’m finding some inspiration from the fact that we are turning to google to figure out whether the people in the picture are sifrino, middle, lower middle, lower class or poor. All I can say is, they look like normal people to me, and they aren’t looking for a latte.

  8. alguien le puede hacer entender a leopoldo lopez que no le conviene ni a el ni a nadie que se entregue? me tiene arrecho y deprimido que ese carajo se entregue asi. Por favor, que alguien le haga entender que no se debe entregar!

    • This is the ultimate macho man move, think of it:

      If they harm him you made him a martyr, a la Che Guevara.

      If they put him in jail, then watch out Mandela.

      If they do nothing he called Maduro’s bluff. He is just more macho tan maduro 🙂

      If he gets the dramatic photo opportunity that lives forever, think here of chinese dude in front of the tank in Tianamen square, or some of the Vietnam war pictures.

      Except for risking his life, his welfare and his liberty, he wins.

      You’ve got to give it to him, hay que tener bolas.

  9. Caricuao “middle class” is poor in most other countries calling themselves “developed”. Take their minimum wage/+ individual incomes, divide by a realistic (20/+) exchange rate, and you’re lucky to get $200/month. Venezuela is a poor country massively in personal incomes/ living standards, and don’t be surprised by protests almost anywhere.

  10. Emiliana kudos for you! Although I wholeheartedly agree with @gtaveledo and Quico’s comments.
    I would’ve paid to see Quico’s face reading it!

  11. Major second thoughts about Leo going out tomorrow. Not worth it IMO. Cannot afford to lose our leader this way. Nothing to gain much to lose.

    • As soon as I read that he plans to lead the protest and then turn himself in, I couldn’t help but reflect on Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino of the Philippines. He too announced his arrival and paid the ultimate price. With all authority turning a blind eye to violence, the chances of assassination cannot be considered minimal. I pray that I am wrong…

  12. Plenty to gain, Second Thoughts. There is nothing more powerful than a symbol. Either way, Lopez stands to gain if Chavismo does nothing, if they violently suppress the demonstration and arrest him or even kill him. He becomes a symbol either way.

    There is power in symbols. Unfortunately, politicians of all stripes know this.

  13. When people say “protest in a smart way”, it means making a list of feasible objectives, taking small yet firm steps towards a bigger goal, as Juan Cristobal mentioned a few posts ago. Some might think that this is too vague and general, but the students have done something like this before. A first example is, well, the beginning of the recent protests. That is, they began with an specific cause: to demand the release of the students that were detained in recent protests. The problem is, however, that these protests evolved to a clusterfuck of demands and cathartic actions. Because that is what this has become, a catharsis en masse (though with legitimate reasons, of course), and it is not wise to physically confront a government that has all the guns and that certainly doesn’t hesitate to intimidate, shoot, beat the crap out of and kill people.

    I like to think that student mobilization played and important role when Chavez lost the constitutional referendum back in 2007 (there are other big factors like, say, Chavez himself wasn’t the choice on the ballot, but still). While everything began with the whole RCTV deal, during the months from September to December 2007, the student movement focused on opposing the new constitution and explaining to the average Pedro Perez in the streets why he should reject it, too (I myself participated in these efforts when I was a bachelor student). Of course there were moments of tension, catharsis and actions driven by emotions instead of brains, but still there you have an example of a protest that had a clear goal and succeeded.

    What Quico said in his previous post is more in line with what Prof. Colette Capriles argues here:

    http://yavenezuela.com/colette-capriles-el-poder-de-una-idea/

    To beat the chavista government you have to undermine their support, and this is done by dialoguing with and convincing the “other”, tear down that invisible wall that is both what separates the people and feeds the chavista government troll. This, I believe, is something the students are quite capable of.

    It’s a bummer to see these kinds of picado-porque-ají-come rant-posts.

  14. I’m not sure where all of this is going, but we can’t simply equate the moment with the past. Times are different. Leopoldo has been diligently building a national party with working structures in even remote areas. He has every right to claim the leadership. This is why we are seeing protests not jus centered in CCS. Other differences: Maduro is no Chavez. Inflation and scarcity have spiked. A Miss Venezuela was violently killed in front of her 5 year old daughter. We did not make it to the World Cup. Two devaluations.

    In any case, Capriles taking on a more centrist position is a good strategy for the long run.

  15. (Note: I live abroad, so this is based on hunches, opinion articles and friends stories from “popular areas”. Any feedback from the field is appreciated.)
    In general, the fact that everyone is tired of the country situation, doesn’t directly mean that everyone blames Chavismo (or even Maduro). Even if the popular sectors were/are mad and even joining the demonstrations, it is not clear to me that their motivation is (yet) to go away from chavismo and its socio/politic/economic methods. They might (and I guess many are) actually calling for Maduro to “rectify” by further oppressing liars in the media and the capitalist businesses, strengthening the economic war, etc. They may (still) not be willing to support demonstrations lead by Capriles/LL/MCM and possibly resulting into those people getting in power, where they would rather see Diosdado or Saman. In that scenery, the “lets protest until this government falls” motto is either unlikely to gather the popular support, or even if it does, may result in just a change of chairs.
    I feel that by now there is a better chance of agglutinating support around non-controversial policies (security related, labor unions freedom, maybe freedom of demonstrating students), and touch the controversial ones when we know that there is a high (>70%?) agreement in the controversial ones (opening the economy, ending cadivi/sicad, referendum/elections).
    Then again, i’m not in the field. Perhaps people do is considering a more radical change as an option, or perhaps just by doing the demonstrations (even if not yet as a majority) we can start broadcasting a message that we cannot transmit through media.

  16. Confrontation is a morale booster for the opposition . it rakes up the fires of oppo emotion , makes people feel that they are not condemned to just sit still waiting for anhilition to happen , it wakens them up from apathy , helps them recover their capacity to act .

    The protests dont have to lead to any inmmediate results , this is a game where small moves here and there start little by little to add up until you reach the famous tipping point where things get drastically changed . This is a long complex game in which ,many small moves can have in the long run incredible consequences .

    Regime repression when overly violent and abusive doesnt help its image , nationally or world wide. the thing is not expect dramatic results but to follow thru steadily with activities which step by step erode the govts strenght , It brings greater attention to the plight of Venezuela from many ordinary opinion segments in the world .

    If you took a poll arround latin america how many would say they want to live under a regime like Maduros?? , Nothing can make it more clear that the Chavista regime is a failure . People figure those protests have a cause and the cause is the economic disaster which Venezuela exemplifies to the world .

    Confrontation can also be used by the regime to rile up its core constituency, those who are so identified with the regimes rethoric and histrionics that they will never be convinced of anything that threaten the govts false hollow but mediatically aggrandized image of itself. People who believe the govt ‘economic war’ empty explanation of the current economic disaster will believe anything just because its given by the govt. ( a kind of reverse ad hominem argument) .

    But not all people who seemingly support the govt are all that sold on its virtues , failure is flagrant and becoming more and more undeniable , moreover it bites people in the butt with ever greater ferocity . Ultimately its bound to have consequences..

  17. I wonder if everything is going to die naturally once Carnavales arrive. At least in Merida the whole city goes to party as the Ferias del Sol starts the friday before, Feb 28. Ever since I remember in Merida any kind of protest dies once you have Las Ferias. Will it resume after that? Will they keep doing it during Carnaval. Or will everybody go to the beach and that will be it? If Quico is right, and I think he is, everybody will just rest. Let’s see how strong is the movement.

    • Whenever i see that guy i have trouble keeping serious, i mean what happened, did he have a breakdown when he was rejected from the casting call for fight club??

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