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Message From Caracas

Last Saturday we went to a March to celebrate the finalization, after a two year wait, of Venezuela’s departure from the OAS. We saw hundreds of militia members. There seem to be as many women as men–my subjective impression–and a large proportion of people of very advanced age. We met a group the next day in their khaki uniforms, strolling through the Plaza Bolivar. One lady told us she is 70 years old. Many others we have seen could be that age, along with more of middle age. The militia is voluntary of course. They train regularly with Kalashnikovs. There are at least a million and a half and they are aiming to recruit more than two million

My computer is not working so I am laboriously writing on my phone. Thus I will be brief.

The streets of Caracas were very normal today except for a big concentration of Chavistas around Miraflores presidential palace. One of our delegation went to the Altamira area and saw about 200 demonstrators, far from the thousands reported by some media. The guardian ran a video from weeks ago fraudulently implying it was today. We were in that area today and the scene was completely peaceful.

Guaido’s assault on La Carlota military airport was farcical. I don’t have all the details but one thing has emerged: most of the soldiers involved had been told that they were going there to receive an award and were surprised when they were arrested. They were tricked into being there. No doubt details will come out eventually.

There is food in stores and restaurants and everything seems quite normal on the streets. They did close the subways early today and tomorrow, just to be on the safe side. The biggest problem we have had is from the fact that a lot of electronic equipment in our hotel is malfunctioning due to the interruptions in electric service–we are told that is common. Also, there are fewer cars on the road due to lack of spare parts.

It appears that the opposition is losing its momentum, given the incompetence of Guaido and his handlers, while thousands of Chavistas were ready to show up to defend Miraflores. We will see what they can do tomorrow.

Someone came by our hotel who went along with some of Guaido’s supporters to a classy restaurant after watching his coup attempt fail. Many were angry that he had falsely implied that he had taken control of the airport when he called for them to join him there. They felt he was manipulating them with a lie. Their evolving attitudes are turning up in their social media posts.

Also, it was a lie when he tweeted that the army was with him. It has been coming out that many in the army resent the fact that he has been calling on the US to send in its army, since they would be the ones who would die.

 

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Peter Lackowski is a retired Vermont school teacher who has been visiting and writing about Latin America, including Bolivia, since 2004. See his CounterPunch report from Venezuela this May.

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