When Chaos Comes to Your Doorstep


Rafael Osío Cabrices writes a powerful personal essay on what it’s been like living half a block from Plaza Altamira over this last month.

What’s the best way to protect a 7-month-old girl from the effects of tear gas? Is it dangerous for her to breathe the smoke from a pile of burning garbage in front of this building? Can a 9-millimeter bullet pass through the walls of our apartment? Will I find food for my family next week in our densely populated middle-class neighborhood, or should we stock an emergency reserve of groceries?

These are some of the questions that my wife and I have been asking ourselves since February 12, when members of Venezuela’s political opposition marched on downtown Caracas and were attacked by supporters of the recently deceased president, Hugo Chávez. Two students were shot in the head and killed, and the subsequent rage pushed the opposition to continue the most recent series of protests against the regime that inherited Chávez’s idea of power.

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