One detonation. Then two more. Is it starting? Or is it a car backfiring? I look at the time: it’s only six minutes past noon. “It’s too early for repression,” I think to myself.

It’s Tuesday. The opposition called a six hour “trancazo” – street closure – starting at noon. On days like today I put up the blinds and leave the window open with the camera nearby, just in case I have to record something.

Just in case, I check. Twitter. “La Candelaria neighbors try to negotiate with the PNB (National Bolivarian Police)”; “The PNB repress a protest by neighbors of La Candelaria.”

Okay, they were the real deal.

From my window I can see out over the Sambil de La Candelaria – long-ago meant to be a shopping mall, really a long-term squat – and also Residencias Parque Caracas, as well as the street in front of the Luis Razetti clinic. The Banco Provincial tower and the Venezuelan Red Cross are not much further on.

It’s a natural convergence point for protesters coming from Avenida Andrés Bello, Avenida Mexico and Avenida Urdaneta, three of the biggest in the city. Geography is one big reason protests in La Candelaria are so big and unpredictable.

Insults give way to panicked screaming.

Down below, the cacophony of horns from cars trying to escape the mayhem goes on and on, mixed with the roar of motorcycle engines. Quick, to the window. The PNB is withdrawing. Apparently, the situation calmed down.

“¡Activos, vecinos! ¡Colectivos!” (We’re on, neighbors! Colectivos are coming!), shouts a neighbor from an upper floor.

“¡Malditos!”

“¡Asesinos!”  

That’s all you hear from the buildings. The alert gets passed around like this – via literal word of mouth. To the window, turn on the camera, zoom in, frame, record. People on the street run and hide. On the avenue there are one, three, ten… forty bikes with driver and parrillero (companion). Loud bangs announce their arrival. Damn, the video doesn’t really show it clearly.

The bikers rummage through their bags, out come the guns.

Insults give way to panicked screaming.

They move forward slowly, looking for targets. Soon they’re shooting within inches of the nearby buildings. The shots are met with bottles thrown from windows high above. 

The roar of motorcycles fades. The neighbors – demonstrators from the comfort of their own balconies – respond with more bottles, bags of ice and garbage.

My neighbors go back down to the street, despite the mayhem. Tweet. With the aid of a bag of oranges and whatever debris they find lying around, they start improvising barricades at three points on the street: at the ends and in the middle.

On a nearby corner, passers-by stop to watch; like a soccer game that could not be seen at home. Cellphone rings. Incoming Whatsapp message: “Chama, colectivos beat up Carlos and stole his phone. Be on your guard if you’re out on the streets.”

―”Who are we?!” someone shouts.

―”Venezuela!” people answer.

­―”What do we want?!”

Libertad!

The applause and slogans accompany the search for materials for the barricade. From the buildings, the barricade makers are monitored, advised and instructed. They keep watch.

“¡Vecinos, activos! ¡Vienen por el Sambil!” (Neighbors, we’re on! They’re coming from the Sambil!) shouts the neighbor from above. The pack reappears, but in PNB uniform. Indifferent to the insults, they settle at the exit of the Sambil parking lot.

They huddle. They seem to be working out their tactics: the largest group is watching the demonstrators and buildings, another goes to the next corner to launch the offensive. The barricade-makers run, I hear detonations. They are not going to give in.

More bottles rain down, more trash, more containers with ice and also stones.

The cops go to the entrance of a nearby parking lot, protected by their shields. They collect rocks, throw them, shoot, try to cover more spaces. A few cross the street and take refuge to continue with the offensive. Like innings in a baseball game, it’s an operation that must be repeated several times.

The smell of tear gas wafts up to where I am. Now the policemen are in the kiosk, shooting into the parking lots of two of the buildings where most of the stones and insults are coming from. They get a tear gas canister in there on their first try.

I get it on video.

Now, a change in tactics: off to another building. The shouts of neighbors sound the alert, the attempted invasion fails.

Soon, the spectators on the corner become players in our street’s drama. The roar of the motorcycles begin to stun the environment but from another direction. “¡Vienen por el Dorsay, pendientes!” shouts the neighbor above me. The closer they come, the greater the panic. Some go from walking to walking fast, from jogging to running for their freedom.

A kid dressed in bermuda shorts and sleeveless flannel manages to take refuge at the Luis Razetti clinic before the caretaker closes the gate.

“Mira, sí lo andaban buscando”, says the neighbor below to his daughter. Of the herd of 15 units, three are parked near the gate. They say something to whoever is keeping the gate closed and leave. It was close.

The kid gives them a good fight, with encouragement from the neighbors. But it’s one against six, and the outcome is foretold.

The game is repeated several more times: increasingly daring and with more uniformed characters. Likewise, street protesters and neighbors are not far behind. Suddenly, the clamor almost bursts my eardrums. What’s up? What are people watching? Twitter: This is how PNB enters to Doral Caracas Residences.

“¡Activos! Vienen por el Dorsay!” shouts the neighbor from an upper floor. People on the street, oblivious to what happens a block away, do not flinch at the announcement. Maybe they didn’t hear. The PNB bikes seem to be reviewing, they advance slowly. Turn the camera on, zoom in, record. “¡Malditos!”, “¡Déjenlo!” (Damn you! Leave him alone!)  

Bottles, trash, thread, stones and debris fly from all directions. In the corner where the Razetti Clinic sits, they arrest a kid who’s just passing by, not at all involved in the melée.

The kid gives them a good fight, with encouragement from the neighbors. But it’s one against six, and the outcome is foretold.

Round 1: kicking and twisting, trying to break free. Round 2: the battle of the PNBs to try to get him on the bike. Round 3: he’s already on but he thrashes around too much. Round 4: everything is over, they snatch him away. Saving video.

To the computer.

From a room in my apartment, a voice cries out.

“They took the kid away! They took him away!,” my mom shouts in tears.

At seven o’clock, silence returns to La Candelaria.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Neighbors look, the writer writes but “at seven o’clock, silence returns to La Candelaria”.
    It saddens me the detachment with which the neighbors look and the writer writes
    The neighbors that look and the writer that writes behave like if what they were looking at and writing about was something happening to somebody else.

    • I didn’t think you could sink any lower after attacking gay people obsessively all last week. I was wrong.

      • Your reply exemplifies well the liberal’s intolerance and double standards.
        To “sink low” implies a moral judgment. May I ask from where I am sinking lower than?
        About the gay issue, I did not make any moral judgment but said two things:
        1. Sexual organs are not equipped for gay sex.
        2. I oppose the Gay Pride agenda.
        In reference with this article, what bothers you of my comments?

  2. Ernest Hemingway immortalized the words he quoted from John Donne in his novel “For whom the bells toll”:

    “No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

    And this article reminds me of this quote from Hemingway “For whom the bells toll”:
    :
    “It was easier to live under a regime than fight it.”
    – Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

    So, I would say that silence did not just return to La Candelaria but it is creeping in all around Venezuela.

    Unless the neighbors stop to look and the writer stops to write and climb down to the street and fight it will be just not silence but also darkness in La Candelaria.

    • And, the bells will toll for them. One of the smartest comments made on the Venezuelan situation. I don’t see any VISIBLE change in the works to avert the Castro-Communist Cubanization of Venezuela–imagine, the leader of the Jul 5 Los Proceres military parade was a “general” nephew of FB, who wore a Cuban flag sash over the Venezuelan flag one–and, no public/Oppo uproar about this to date….

  3. Hi Shari, I hope you are not using your own name. Be smart. You give up way too much information. We all need to be on radio silence now. #tuntunporlapaz These guys are mothef*#$ers. Got to make up some bullshit and fly under the radar. Shit is going to go down here soon. We are going to win, but this could drag on for a bit.

  4. This article/blog demonstrates the futility of the administration’s/PNB’s actions, which is encouraging in one way:

    Exactly how does tossing a teargas canister from street level onto a rooftop with a few protesters change anything? It’s stupid and futile and doesn’t accomplish anything.

    But there’s a very depressing aspect here about the innocent bystander whisked away on a motorcycle:

    What the fuck is going on that freedom fighters are detained via MOTORCYCLES. What is this–The Flinstones!?

    Step up the game my friends and don’t let a bunch of shmucks on MOTORCYCLES terrorize the country.

    • Of course, what the government is doing is accomplishing a lot.
      In this case, it keeps the neighbors just looking and the writer just writing.

      • Juan, why don’t you go to Venezuela and show them how it’s done?

        If you want to go I’m sure your friends on this board (including me) will all chip in to pay for your plane ticket, as long as you document yourself putting your money where your mouth is.

        Otherwise, just stick to posting about Inholes and Outholes and master/slave sexual relationships and the Pope being evil, as those seem to excite you.

        • The intolerance of liberals in this forum shows itself again!
          You might want to work for Conatel and regulate what people can say.
          You confirm the veracity of the proverb that goes like this: “the extremes meet”.
          I don’t think much will be accomplished if the neighbors keep on looking, the writers keep on writing and the censors keep on censoring.

  5. Another post from me here totally unrelated to the specifics of this thread.

    But if Latin America is so fucking anti-Gringo as it relates to intervention, and I’m talking militarily…

    Would you all be pissed if another Latin American country intervened to save the country?

    The ignorance and prejudice which voted Chavez into office is the same ignorance which will prevent the country’s salvation of a U.S. invasion.

    Just ask Panama, who’s doing pretty good these days.

    • I have family in the US military, and I don’t want them being sent to Venezuela or the US pursuing active operations there. And I say that with a Venezuelan wife and her family still living in Venezuela that I am very close with and with full knowledge of the evil of the regime.

      Let the rest of Latin America do something about it for once.

  6. No. FUCK NO. No.

    Venezuela is in the situation it is right now PRECISELY because incredible numbers of people wanted “another Pérez Jiménez”, and choosed the red gorila because hey, ideology? actual democratic values? Thats less important that a man with balls to bring “order”.

    Lets stop playing the game of what strain of the dictatorship disease is better, less bad, or whatever. Just get vaccinated already.

    • Those who pine for MPJ, should remember that Chávez invited MPJ to his 1999 inauguration. I doubt that many people reading this blog would consider that invitation to constitute an endorsement of MPJ.

      Those who pine for a “strict, but competent and honest” General-President to clean things up should remember that the record of military rule in Latin America has a lot more incompetent and/or corrupt General-Presidents than competent and honest General Presidents.
      After all, how did Colonel Chávez do as President?

      General-President trivia: Guatemalan General-President Fernando Romeo Lucas García died in exile in Puerto La Cruz. My General-President Lucas story: the madam of a house of prostitution introduced me to relatives of General-President Lucas in his hometown.

  7. Shari, many, many thanks for your report. For us that are away, it was like looking with you, from your window. But yes, take care.

    I’m not even going to comment on the comments. I’m starting to wish the site didnt have any.

  8. The notion that most common people if inspired by epic passions will turn into heroes and go out and wage a violent struggle against a superiorly armed enemy and put their skins on the line is not entirely accurate . People have a healthy attachment to their self preservation and bodily comforts …….. Example of this what happened in France after it fell to nazi germany in WWII , most french men even if they abhorred hitler did little to join the resistance , When De Gaulle left the country with some few army followers he thought that every notable frenchman would join him to continue the fight in exile ……but nothing like that happened ……

    Except in certain exceptional circumstances people will normally shy away from confrontation ….from situations where they run a big chance of getting hurt or harming their interests , sometimes however circumstance and random conditions arouse an anger that movilizes a whole people to fight a better armed and organized enemy ….it happened when a big chunk of the population of the 13 colonies begun to see their king and his regime as oppresive …..

    A few months ago I was fearful that the mass of oppo regulars had become the victims of learned happlesness or followed their natural human inclinations and would not answer a call to confront the regime on the streets …boy was I wrong ………still I think that heroic responses are the exception and that most people just want to avoid the hassle and danger of joining in a violent struggle ……

    Speaking to some children of cuban exile , they say Venezuelans are really different from them , they too became dissapointed with the regime very quickly but never took to the streets in protests, they claim that because they had never known democracy or a much better life so they really had every reason not to imperil themselves protesting in the streets , they see what is happening in Venezuela as really heroic……….and of course it is …..but we musnt see it as normal or automatic , most people in the world will just hunker down and accept the tyranies which are imposed on them …

    • “most people in the world will just hunker down and accept the tyrannies which are imposed on them …”
      Yes, and the bells are tolling for them today in Venezuela.
      About Cuba, it did not help that an American intervention was imminent on their minds, so why fight if the Americans would not tolerate a communist Cuba?
      Something similar happens in Venezuela but in this case, it is not the Americans, it is the belief that “that happened in Cuba but it will not happen in Venezuela”.

    • “Speaking to some children of cuban exile , they say Venezuelans are really different from them , they too became dissapointed with the regime very quickly but never took to the streets in protests”

      They never took to the streets because dead people can’t walk! Tell those ‘children of Cuban exile’ about the infamous ‘paredón’, where thousands of political prisoners have been killed. Most of their names never to be known; until an amalgam of professionals from several different fields of study, going from archaeology to history, passing also through forensic anthropology, and probably even others, will have to find out where the bodies are located and how many have been killed. Of course, that only when Cuba manages to wake up from its neverending nightmare too.

      http://www.therealcuba.com/?page_id=55

  9. Can’t wait for Quico to read this comment section…..I’m betting he finds it loaded with morally-bankrupt posters.

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