Photo: Reuters, retrieved

When there was nothing left, the mob wanted to burn the house down.

They had already taken the TVs, the beds, clothes, lightbulbs, personal documents, ripped off the faucets and toilets and even the doors and their frames. They had the molotov cocktails ready and were lighting them on when the neighbors talked them out of it.

Daniel tells me that “it wasn’t out of hunger. Hungry people don’t do that.”

Some witnesses say there were 500 looters, Correo del Caroní says there were 200. What we do know is that they came from nearby houses. At Core 8, a slum at the east of Ciudad Guayana, angry mobs took the streets at 6:00 p.m. They charged at the stores with molotovs and rocks, upset at the shopkeepers’ alleged refusal to accept low denomination bills and the banknote hoarding the official propaganda insists on.

Daniel, owner of a looted apparel store, tells me that’s a lie. They didn’t have a point of sale, but had been using their personal bank accounts to offer transfers from as many banks as possible.

“We always offered to make it easier, we wanted to help the community and ourselves. You know how things are with cash.”

At first, soldiers were at Daniel’s store doing their best to contain the mob while his family moved valuables from their home, in the back to the shop, to a neighbor’s house. They took the fridge, the stove and one air conditioner.

The next day, no stores in Core 8 opened. Most owners hid away the merchandise, and opened the santamarías so people could see there was nothing to loot.

But the guards retreated, overwhelmed by the rabble. Daniel armed himself with a knife and threatened to attack anyone who approached his house. That (and the ongoing looting) bought them time to escape through the roof.

“They took everything they could, and destroyed what they couldn’t.”

Funny (and by that I mean “sick”) enough, they took all of the cash except for the lower denomination bills they were allegedly pissed about. When they noticed that the neighbor helped them escape and hide their stuff, they threatened to kill her.

“I don’t have anything to do with the looting, I didn’t see anything, I don’t know anything,” said a witness from across the street.

There were eight stores raided that day. The one in front of Daniel’s suffered the same fate (including the blitz to the attached home), but a nearby liquor store was spared when the owner scared the mob off with a gun.

The next day, no stores in Core 8 opened. Most owners hid away the merchandise, and opened the santamarías so people could see there was nothing to loot. Daniel’s family is too scared to return. For now, they’re staying with relatives, out of work and homeless.

The looting actually started the day before. On Wednesday there was another, and they show no sign of slowing down. You can even see people organizing the raids on Facebook, just like it was in Ciudad Bolívar a year ago.

This is just starting.

Some of the names and specific elements of this story were changed to protect our sources.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. So, when all the stores are looted and burned where will the mob turn? To upper class neighborhoods or government faciities. I just read a story in the US that Maduro might allow food aid into the country provided that the opposition recognize the ANC and the Chavistas control its distribution. In my humble opinion conditioning food aid in that manner is a war crime and should be prosecuted.

    • Seems advisable. Given Trumps open statements in his intent to overthrow the Venezuelan government I would think allowing “aid” by the US needs to be carefully controlled so it doesn’t become a route to that end.

      • Nonsense. Any aid to Venezuela only comes when Maduro is brought to heel and his flunkies in the ANC are relegated to the ash heap of history. Chavismo is in no position to condition any aid that is offered.

        There is no option on the table where Trump would invade Venezuela short of the Russians building a base of operations.

        • Correct, Sir. It seems to me that this regime is about money and guns. Without being lengthy about details, they’re out of money, and without that money, they’re going to lose the guns.

          With the “negotiations” going on, the regime appears to be on the dictating side of things, telling the MUD that if they recognize the [illegal] ANC, the regime will free some political prisoners and re-legitmize some political parties – and “will allow” food relief into the country.

          Here’s the question / hypothesis part. The regime wants the MUD to legitimize it and give it MUD’s CLAP boxes – the food relief. The regime is about to fold. They need the MUD support, legitimization, and are asking for it. If they don’t get that food to their people, they’re going to lose them.

          Would it be smart for the MUD to say to the regime: “Dissolve the ANC, dissolve the TSJ, dissolve the CNE, release all political prisoners, step down to house arrest, ministers, cabinet, appointed generals, the whole lot of you. The AN will assume control. Let us know when you agree to our terms.”

          (Sarcastically, someone could say to the MUD: “Hey guys, you did all you could to support the regime, but they’re a lost cause. Maybe you should reconsider and withdraw your support.” The idea being that if the MUD accedes to any of the regime’s “demands”, they become as illegitimate as the regime and lose their international support – the country may not lose international support, but the MUD will.)

          This is something I picked up here, from a poster (sorry I’m too lazy to go back five or six days to look for it). Someone said very briefly that the MUD should lay out their demands, make them widely known, and when the regime rejects them, point to the fact that the regime has refused to negotiate.

          Separately, has anyone considered the logistic of food relief beyond the magical idea that food will suddenly appear on starving people’s tables? How many people need to be fed? How many ships is that? How many trucks? How many distribution centers, and where? For how long? Knowing that the regime is still in place, who would send food to keep it in place? Wouldn’t the people who railed at Goldman Sachs, rail at the direct food aid people for feeding the regime? Wouldn’t that relief be more likely if the regime were gone, and the AN in control with a new CNE scheduling elections at the earliest possible date?

    • Years ago, during the LA riots following the Rodney King verdict, a thug was interviewed on camera, and he insisted that the “three B’s (Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood) are next”, suggesting that these thugs who were looting and burning their own neighborhoods (South Central LA) would soon descend upon quiet suburbia and take out their vengeance there.

      Anyone recall any trouble in quiet suburbia? Of course not… thugs only raise hell in areas they feel “safe”… had they gone into someone elses neighborhood with the intent to harm, they would have left that neighborhood with a tag on their toe.

      These Chavistas will burn and loot their own. When they run out of their own to pillage, they will make some great noise, but in the end, don’t expect them to leave the comfy confines of their own barrios/favelas/slums. Their bravado ends when others fight back. Which is why these colectivos only travel in well armed groups in areas they feel “safe”.

      • The great moment in those times (I was in L.A.) was a slightly dumb TV reporter in her make up with her camera crew, doing a short interview courtesy of a captain in the National Guard. A few typically nonsensical questions about the areas of the rioting, damage assessment, and I guess she got a little “real” at one point, with rocks flying and bottles breaking, building fires and mobs in the background a block away. She gets a little flustered or frustrated with the captain maybe, and says, “Captain! They’re throwing bricks and bottles at you! There’s broken glass flying around! Doesn’t that scare you!?” The captain doesn’t change his demeanor at all and politely replies, “No Ma’am. That sort of stuff doesn’t bother us.” End of interview, she kind of stood there with her mouth open for a second and moved back away. It cracked me up.

    • It would be the height of absurdity for the opposition to legitimise the ANC. As soon as anyone does so, they cease to be opposition. At the end of the day, I am certain that the regime does not expect capitulation on this point. It seems like nothing more than a negotiating point to be given away and used for propaganda purposes.

      Many people in the regime understand now that they risk a total loss of control (or face an internal military-backed coup) if they can’t get food on the shelves. Pitchforks and torches are on their way. However, the one consistent policy of Chavismo has been about dependency. Every action they have ever taken has been about securing loyalty via dependency. For this reason, they absolutely do not want an alternative “brand” which is visibly delivering food aid in Venezuela. This would dilute dependency and fear, and represent (for them) a massively retrogressive step in clientism. Anathema.

      A likely outcome is that the aid agencies will cave in first, and allow the Venezuelan regime to control and “re-brand” aid. The missions of such aid agencies are typically apolitical, and on many occasions they have provided aid to people suffering evil regimes – even while knowing that doing so extends the survival of such regimes. To the best of my knowledge, aid agencies have only ever withheld or stopped aid where local warlords or officials were overtly stealing the aid and preventing any effective distribution to the people who most needed it or where the situation became too dangerous to permit supply. Providing the regime can exert some modicum of discipline over its kleptocrats, the regime is probably making a smart political move to buy time. They will promise non-partisan distribution to the aid agencies and then just rebrand food-aid as CLAP baggies with all the well-established rules for “fair” distribution.

  2. The first task of government is to show its capable of controlling public order , its inabiity to do so is a sign that it no longers wields enough raw force to keep itself in power , and acts as an invitation to any military adventurer to challenge its rule . looting can easily spread from one place to others until it becomes a tsunami that overwhelms all authority …….

  3. “Some witnesses say there were 500 looters, Correo del Caroní says there were 200. What we do know is that they came from nearby houses. ”

    This clearly reveals the true nature of our beloved, oh so honest, hard-working “pueblo” people.. Such strong moral values! “Gloria al Bravo Pueblo”, huh.. Neighbors viciously assaulting and robbing their own neighbors! the same ones they say “guenos dias” to every morning…, they have no problem robbing at night.

    You can only imagine what the same pueblo-people do at work, in any public or private position. First Guiso they see, first chance they get.. they jump on it. Thus, Kleptozuela was created, by millions of dishonest, uneducated, corrupt, average people with ZERO moral values.

  4. they probably felt inebriated taking what’s not theirs knowing there would be no consequences. Once again those working hard to earn their bread are the biggest victims in venezuela.

  5. We LONG AGO stopped accepting the bills of 10 and 20 bs. No one complained here. From what I hear, and it seems to be supported by what we see locally, many shops in Barcelona and Pta La Cruz no longer accept the “smaller” bills of 50 and 100. I can believe it because a significant part of any day involves bundling the bills we take in. We used to bundle them a 100 bills to the pack…..5,000 bs, 10,000 bs. Now I make “sandwiches” with two packs of 100’s and one pack of 50’s in the middle for 25,000 bs.

    Yesterday we bought from coffee from a young fellow from Mundo Nuevo in the mountains. He left on his motorbike with a SACK of cash. I could hardly lift it. LOL. Kid’s got a death wish doing that.

    This place is a circus.

    • “May you live in interesting times.” said some jackass some time ago, supposedly from China. Good luck and be safe is all I have for you, not being Yogi Berra.

      • le pregunté hace tiempo a dos chinos por ese supuesto proverbio (“May you live in interesting times.”) y no les sonaba de nada… no hay que fiarse de lo que uno lea por ahí…

  6. After 28 years we are again experiencing a Caracazo , a slow motion Caracazo , slow motion because it doenst happen all at once and is spread through out the whole country , the last few weeks has seen a big increase in the number and scale of the lootings , this time involving not only the sacking of stores but also the blocking of highways , the wholesale looting of traveling food trucks even the sacrifice of whole herds of cattle where they pasture ……

    Its evidently not just that there are people who have no qualms about stealing but something else because for many many years we havent seen the scale and savagery of the lootings and pillage thats going on now , its a veritable explosion of looting , the reason is obvious because this regimes corruption and mismanagement has brought the country to a state of collective desesperation which grows worse and worse as the crisis deepens !!

    • No use.. there are not enough quality steel knives to clip the paws off if 200+ looters.

      Thus is why you need guns.

      And don’t give me the bullshit about “what if the looters had guns”… Chavistas and gangs already do.

      • Agree, it’s long past due to paint the streets red with rojo rojito blood. ALL we need is a civil war!!!! ASAfuckingP!!!!! The best chavista is a dead chavista! !!!!!

      • Mitchell: One person with a machete behind a door can hold an entire group of bachaqueros trying to break in, simply because they are COWARD MAGGOTS that won’t dare to actually risk their skin for anything, as all the chavistas are.

        Duncavd: It’s not a civil war, it’s simply the people defending their homes from malandros.

        • One Molotov cocktail takes care of a guy with a knife behind a door.

          But the point you make is still valid… It takes people with a will to fight to address the issues. We have not seen enough bravery (or craftiness) on the part of the opposition.

          The “PopeHat” (not really a Pope like John Paul II) has done everything possible to undercut the opposition, except excommunication. I can see that when Maduro snaps his fingers next on the 18th, Franky will stab (again) the people in the back.

    • What I learned during my briefish military career.

      One gun.

      Getting one makes getting another easier, especially when your adversary is unaware that you have a gun.

      When you have two guns, you can disarm your adversaries easier, because they still don’t know/believe that you are armed.

      Two guns begets 10 guns. Ten guns begets 50 guns.

      The downside to all of this, is that acquiring guns means that there is going to come a time when they must be used. So, if you aren’t prepared to kill someone (or get killed) stay away from this aspect of preserving your liberty and freedom. Freedom isn’t free.

      The other problem is the more guns you have, the more guns you have to distribute to people who may not be as dedicated to the cause as you are. I am thinking now about Oscar Perez, who so far has been very cagey about his smallish rebellion. He is playing it safe, which is advisable. Sooner or later, his whereabouts will be exposed by someone and those guns are going to get used.

      Rebellion isn’t a safe game, especially when your adversary (Chavismo) has nothing to lose. People ARE going to die.

      “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure” — Thomas Jefferson to William S. Smith

    • For the record, I’m well-armed and have used weapons of all sorts since I was very young. To put it another way, I’m a good shot and won’t have any qualms about defending my property, though I certainly hope it doesn’t comet to that.

      And speaking of machetes, my woman keeps one under the counter at the bodega. I pity the poor bastard who’s on the receiving end of her ire. LOL

  7. Is there a way to denounce this kind of hate talk in facebook?, they can ban this people in all social media so they won’t be able to organize this way

    • FB has become atrociously useless to ban that kind of lunatics, and even more in their spanish-talking area, where they leave even child molesters to run free and do as they please, since “their content doesn’t go against FB’s terms of use”

  8. It certainly looks like desperation and anarchy are increasing.

    I wrote on another thread:-
    ” It is surely now obvious that the main reason that the regime will not accept humanitarian aid is nothing to do with image or propaganda, as as been suggested, and everything to do with the regime ensuring that it does not dilute the dependency of the population by allowing an alternative supply of food and medicines.”

    I now think that what I wrote was incomplete. The escalation of these outrages must be causing concern in the regime. If nothing changes, it is only a matter of time before anarchic looting spreads to the point where Caracas itself becomes a funeral pyre for Chavismo. Self-preservation might force the regime to try to negotiate a deal with aid agencies whereby Venezuela accepts “temporary” aid in food and medecines, but under the strict condition that all distribution is controlled by the regime. They can maintain dependency and fear in this way. Using the Venezuelan people as a hostage in this type of negotiation would seem to be perfectly in keeping with their past morality.

  9. “There were eight stores raided that day…but a nearby liquor store was spared when the owner scared the mob off with a gun.” Even gun control advocates need to realize that, throughout history, it is common that a responsible person with a gun brings the situation under control.

    • Also, Venezuela isn’t like USA where most houses are made of cardboard and wood, most households in Venezuela have 5-inch concrete walls capable of stopping a car, so barring faulty doors, a lot of houses in Venezuela are built as freaking bunkers already.

  10. Maduro and the chavistas are just hoping the people start being violent against them. The bullets will start to fly.

    Best to start kidnapping the families of the police and SEBIN. Sending body parts in boxes to their offices.

    This requires an iron will that the VZ people do not possess.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here