In the news there has been quite a focus on street barricades as a common form of protest. Today the New York Times wrote a pretty good article accompanied by a telling photo essay. One part about the barricades:
A city of 260,000, San Cristóbal was almost completely shut down on Monday. Residents had set up dozens of barricades all around town. In many areas, residents set out nails or drove pieces of rebar into the pavement, leaving them partly exposed, to puncture tires.
This form of protest is called guarimba and was used heavily during the protests of 2004. According to a pro-government news blog, “The explicit goal of the 2004 guarimba protests was to create enormous chaos in city streets thereby forcing the government to either step down or engage in mass repressions.” The little barricade on our street doesn’t seem to fit the bill. Compared to other barricades around town and certainly in other parts of the country, the ones on our street seem kinda cute. It’s a place for the passionate neighbors to meet and bang pots during the nightly cacerolazos, not create destabilizing chaos. The reality in the westernmost part of the country — where, according to the reports I’ve been reading, the barricades have been erected to in part to help protect the people by keeping the National Guard out — is much worse than here in Caracas (especially our neighborhood).
Then tonight Kat and I decided to walk down into the neighborhood for some dinner. On the walk home we caught the tail end of a barricade on fire at the traffic light around the corner from our house. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.