Ciudad Bolívar is turning into a warzone

An update on Ciudad Bolivar lootings and the chaos that #billetexit has unleashed.

By now you know about the nationwide chaos that eliminating the 100 bill has caused. Well, it hasnt stopped. Yesterday in Ciudad Bolívar, the lootings dimmed at about midnight, but resumed this morning, now more organized and massive.

I reached out to my cousin Yinmi, who lives there to get a sense of what’s going on.

He went out in the morning to buy food, anything, no matter the price, because he heard it was running out. That’s when he realized that almost every store nearby was looted the previous night, and not only the ones selling food. He drove alongside a burnt down tire store. Everything looked like a warzone.

Yinmi managed to find a place selling food which accepted debit cards, the Europa Bakery. The line was so long it started in the street, just like the ones for price regulated products. When he was about to pay, canned sardines in hand, the police, or GNB, or whatever, showed up in two motorcycles. Someone shot the guy who was standing in front of him. They weren’t even protesting, it was just people buying food.

He didnt stop to see if it was real bullets or rubber ones, or to see the face of the shooter, or if the guy survived. He dropped the sardines and started running home. Now Yinmi and his family are sheltered in the house, with the kids and no food. Since he sells plantains, it would be normal for him to have a huge stack of plantains at home, but this weekend he couldnt stack up because the providers werent accepting the Bs. 100 bills he made in the week.

Malandros took the streets to protest and encourage the people to loot, waving machine guns and shooting, many people joined in feeling protected by the armed thugs. In the meantime four army helicopters patrolled the city shooting tear gas at the sight of any angry mob. While I talked to him on the phone, I could hear the gunshots and helicopters in the background. In some places police officers and GNB participated in the lootings.

Yinmi tells me that people are way more prepared than last night, now they are using Facebook to organize. Traki is the final objective, where they recently started to sell imported food at unaffordable prices for pretty much any venezuelan. The large building is imposing in comparison to the poor barrio next to it where people are literally starving. People sometimes visit it just to see the full shelves and take pictures, now they see a chance of getting their hands on some of those products.

This is a Plumrose warehouse, where the looters even used a cargo truck to breakt in: 

He sent me this video. After the GNB and malandros left, people managed to get in “El Baratón”, the only supermarket around, and were running with their shopping carts stacked with what they could find. I think the most unsettling part is the all around euphoric atmosphere.

In other places of the city, like in Los Proceres, a poor area in Bolívar, they already ran out of places to loot, and the malandros just roam the streets with their motorcycles and guns. This is still going on, the security forces have been seen gearing up to try to control the mayhem and a curfew has already been declared. All we can do at this point is wait for the dust to settle (if it settles) to count our wounded, and possible deaths. I probably won’t sleep tonight, pretty much half of my family lives in Bolívar. Se va a poner más feo.

Carlos Hernández

Ciudad Guayana economist moonlighting as the keyboardist of a progressive power metal band. Carlos knows how to play Truco. 4 8 15 16 23 42