The Battle of Guarenas

March 10, 2009

It had all of the ingredients of a high level confrontation: 3:30 AM, the workers of the state highway system, accompanied by the Secretary of the Governor of the State, ready to place signs and traffic signals so that the express lane against the normal direction of the traffic could be set up on Km. 12 of the Caracas-Guarenas highway.

Opposite to them the “enemy”, dressed in riot gear including shields, the Venezuelan National Guard stood firm to block the two trucks from the Governor’s office from proceeding forward.

In the middle, public transportation vehicles filled with passengers, you could call them the “people”, wondering who will prevail, either the National Guard, in which case it would take them two hours to drive the 12 Kms. or the Governor, implying they could arrive in 12 to 15 minutes to their destination.

This is not a border dispute, it is a silly and dangerous confrontation in polarized Venezuela, between the Governor of Miranda State who wants to alleviate traffic, and the Chavez Government, who opposes the idea, because they did not propose it first. As simple as that.

Their argument? Article 50 of the Venezuelan Constitution that says that every person has the right to “transit freely” within the Venezuelan territory, as if it said “transit easily” , something which is becoming rarer these days all over the same territory. And in any case, isn’t this the same National Guard that arbitrarily blocks roads and highways daily, stopping each vehicle and harassing travelers? Where is Art. 50 when they do that?

And, of course, these are the same guys that trampled over the same Constitution, so that they could please Chávez and hold the referendum on Feb. 15th. , because, just one example, fourteen articles later, Art. 64 says all Venezuelans who are eighteen have the right to vote, which was not respected on Feb. 15th. To do so, would have delayed the votes three months.

But going back to the battle of Guarenas, at 4:45 AM, the Governor of the State arrives. His arrival encourages the people, car lights begin flashing, horns blare stridently, the “people” shout, bus drivers threaten to shutdown the highway if the express lane is not opened.

In the face of a near riot (Isn’t that what anti-riot equipment is for?), the National Guard Captain in charge of the operation backs down (maybe he lives in Guarenas too!) and the express lane is opened. Buses arrive in Caracas in less than fifteen minutes to the delight of passengers (who will get to work faster) and drivers (who can turn around, go back and fill the bus again)

The bizarro Battle of Guarenas ends peacefully, the question is whether this was a Pyrrhic victory and the National Guard will come back tomorrow reinforced to impose the autocratic decision or whether there is some understanding that the “people” are willing to fight for this.

There are in the end no possible “winners” in such a confrontation, unless imposing your will and controlling the other side is your only goal.

One Response to “The Battle of Guarenas”

  1. Gringo Says:

    Miguel, your final sentence sums it up.

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