The lady was more afraid than expected. “I can’t, I can’t,” she said when I started the interview. I asked and engaged, yet she always shook her head.

“Do you agree with the protest? Is anyone forcing you to open? Why didn’t you join the strike?”

Not a single word. And then she looked at me in the eye.

“You shouldn’t be asking all these questions” she said. “There are colectivos around here. If you ask the wrong thing to the wrong person, you’ll be in trouble.”

“I’m not keeping quiet for me,” I heard her say as I left. “I’m doing it for you”.

After crossing the empty streets of Eastern Caracas, the experience of hanging around Capitolio the heart of Caracas’s historic downtown is overwhelming. The music, the people, the screaming of “Dona, dona! (donuts for sale); everything seems… normal. The streets close to the National Assembly are full, with none of the barricades you’d expect on the second day of a National General Strike. “Compro oro!, a guy yells.

The place is chaos with heat, shouting and traffic.

“We don’t close,” the owner of a little shoe store tells me. “It’s not a question of our politics, if you close, it’ll be bad.”

There are colectivos around here. If you ask the wrong thing to the wrong person, you’ll be in trouble.

According to the opposition’s discourse, most of these folks are public servants or forced to work. But the tiny shops and restaurants are all open, breathing fear under a guise of normality.

Just weeks ago, the colectivos attacked the National Assembly in an assault that caused indignation everywhere. I was shocked, maybe you were as well. But here, violence is expected.

“What paro?” a 20 something seller in a tech store says. “Everything’s normal here!”

A few feet away, a restaurant worked for seven patrons. “If people come, we sell, business as usual. I don’t believe in paro because this is not a political party.”

With or without a strike, people know who’s in charge. Although there was fierce repression in the East, people downtown carried on as usual, though the unease in their voice was clear.

“We’re open until five,” the Middle Eastern trader says from his shoe shop. “We better. This is zona roja.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. Well,the Turkos get the divisas. Many are running as constituyentistas and Tarek is their boss. The little stores is how they launder money through relatives. The real big fish are importers who scam a good portion of the divisas and sell on black market.

    But yes, people are in fear. Some just want to stay out of it and want to pretend this is not happening. Tyranny only happens because people are indifferent.

    Now is the time to stand up.

  2. Gaby, thank you for this insight. In spite of pretty good results overall, it was business as usual in most of downtown CCS, Catia, El Valle, Carretera de Junquito, etc., indicating not just fear, but the need to stay open for business, if possible, just to survive economically–all of which calls into question whether Pueblo support is yet strong/courageous enough to bring down the Regime….

  3. What’s worring me now is that, to this moment, there is any news about the “Takeover of Caracas” that should be happening. For what it seems, the government seems to have managed to frightern the people.

  4. What’s worring me is that there are no news anywhere of the “Takeover of Caracas” that shoud be happening now. For what it seems, the government has managed to frighten people to not to do it.

    • If the opposition don’t want to take the guns, Venezuela is gone.
      Psycopath regime wont stop at nothing to remain in power.
      I really hate to see how an illeterate criminal gang took over the country and is causing so much suffering to so many people.
      The opposition need to adapt dynamically to the ever changing scenario, street protest can only take you so far.
      Mass protest was the answer to last week conditions.

    • Negociación, negociación, diálogos burundangueros de 2014 y 2016 parte 19, la secuela Electric Boogaloo.

      That’s what’s happening.

      Only that the negociations are with chavismo holding the MUD leaders at gunpoint this time, just take LL, his inane speech from this week was most probably the product of the regime threatening to kill his entire family if he didn’t “walk straight and shut the fuck up”

  5. Even if the protests die right now, as the author of this post was desperately demanding in another text some months ago, Venezuelans could already be proud of what they have achieved, few peoples have fought a communist brutal dictatorship with the resolve the Venezuelans showed.

    I believe that the Venezuelan problem has already past a point of no return, it will be up to harsh oil sanctions/military intervention/arrest of the big players to solve the crisis now. Maybe it is better to do what the US embassy suggested, to get ready for what’s coming, to stock up water and food and stay away from trouble. The new normal is anything but normal.

    • Yup Mark true, buy you also left something else out. Prepare to defend your home, your wife, your kids your pets if you live in a zone with guarimbas. Electrify your door, oil on stairs with broken glass, prepare a proper barricade…anything you can think of…just dont let PNB, GNB, colectivos into your home.

      This time we are not going for the consolation prize. This time it is a fight to the death.

      If Maduro backs off of the Constituyente, it is the death of Chavismo. We are in for a long fight here if the gringos dont step in. Hopefully only a month, maybe till October…hopefully the collapse before that because they’re broke.

      • Gocho, it wont just be the GNB/Colectivos, it will be your Consejo Comunal relatives/friends trying to take your home/business/vehicles/valuables, and, in the end, possibly hordes of barrio dwellers just looking for food to survive–and not just in Guarimba zones, but anywhere.

  6. Carpin, I think you might be right. Not much. Just the usual trancas. That said, nothing heats up till 3-4pm. Check out El Nacional, good on updates. Nevertheless, to maintain protests in wake of 5 year or more sentences takes some balls. So there might be more to it.

    I saw police and GNB everywhere this morning.

  7. Carpin, just lots of repression going on now. More of the same. I would not say the protest movement did. But PNB GNB and colectivos are out in force right now.

    • Thank you very much for the updates. I fear we’re going to see something similar to what happened in Hong Kong in 2014, where the government managed to defeat the protests there by exhastion. Unless some big change happens, I agreee it will be up to international actions.

  8. carpin, watch the guarimba live on La Patilla. Just had marco rubio having a press conference on Venezuela…then switched to the guarimbas starting on the interstate.

  9. “There are colectivos around here. If you ask the wrong thing to the wrong person, you’ll be in trouble.”

    That sums it all up, the manure forced the people to open.

    ““What paro?” a 20 something seller in a tech store says. “Everything’s normal here!”

    A few feet away, a restaurant worked for seven patrons. “If people come, we sell, business as usual. I don’t believe in paro because this is not a political party.” ”

    The same with these two, they’re either being extorted, or they are more of that chavista fanatics.

  10. Que se jodan todos. Sometimes I feel a morbid sense of satisfaction when these “apolitical” shits starve / cannot find medicine. Your fault for tacitly supporting regime.

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