Shocking scenes from Caracas’s Southwest poured through on Social Media last night. The harsh new spasm of violence will have political repercussions we can only guess at.

The commotion centered El Valle. It’s one of the city’s toughest, most violent shantytowns.

In the daytime, it looks like this:

Here’s a closer look:

Hillside slums fringing a formally constructed —but hardscrabble— strip at the bottom of the valley. The whole thing is just across the highway from Fuerte Tiuna, Caracas’s main military base. Poor areas like this have borne the brunt of the economic crisis, with food distribution spotty and hunger trends off the charts. Couple this with a very active and extremely violent criminal underworld, and the potential for trouble is clear.

It’s hard to tell exactly how it all started last night. It can be baffling trying to piece together a sequence of events in a country with no free media. The night was a whirl of blurry videos, shared Whatsapp Voice Notes of uncertain provenance, audio clips of almighty firefights, and far too much uncertainty.

From what we’re able to make out, at around 10:30 p.m., people began to stream down into the commercial area to loot shops.

This, if you’re wondering, is what looting looks like when it’s about to happen in the building where you live:

 

The security forces went out in numbers:

There are many reports on social media that show government-linked paramilitaries were sent alongside the security forces to confront the looters. What all reports coincide on is that there was an immense amount of gunfire as a result:

 

 

 

Barricades

A series of small, burning barricades were set up throughout the area to try to cut off the paramilitaries and security forces. Much of the area looked like this:

El Valle’s “Hospital Materno Infantil” was right by the looting, with many reports of tear gas wafting into maternity wards. Awful

 

 

All this within earshot of Fuerte Tiuna. 

On the Tsunami of military-linked rumors that accompanied all this we won’t say much, because they’re virtually impossible to confirm. There are some pictures going around of area civilians congregating on the highway that separates the Fort from El Valle proper, apparently chavistas defending it. 

Still, it can’t have been a very restful night there.

The Aftermath

And here’s a sense of what El Valle looks like this morning. (Photos by Joe Codallo).

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