I went to do my usual spin around Caracas to see how things were going along. I went from one and to another hitting too deep into Catia (More on that later!) as well as Petare. My overall general conclusion is that the lines were shorter and lighter in the West areas (Catia, La Pastora, Quinta Crespo), than in the East from Chacao to Petare, where I saw bigger lines.
In the west the presence of Chavismo was felt more, including the omnipresent image of Chávez everywhere, as well as kiosks too close to polling stations. Here is how present Chávez was:
How prescient of him to know exactly what the ballot would look like in 2016…
In the West, polling centers were less detectable than in the East of Caracas, streets were seldom blocked, which seems to be the rule in the East of the city and lines in the west of Caracas were fairly short, if present. This would suggest to me at first sight to imply that desilusioned Chavistas are not going out to vote. They may not want to vote for the Government, but are not willing (or capable) of casting their ballot for the opposition.
In Catia, a Chavista stronghold, the Davil saw very few lines. In fact, it was only when I got closer to downtown (further East), like in this picture in Lice Andres Bello, when lines appeared:
That was the biggest line I saw in the West by far. The second one was this one, near the Panteon Nacional:
We really saw no more than those two lines in a fairly wide and long spin around the West.
In the East, lines were common, as were traffic jams caused by stupid closings of streets, sometimes in very inefficient ways.
This was in Avenida Romulo Gallegos, it was a long line, but hard to get a good capture of the whole thing:
This was quite typical of the visible and less visible centers in the East of Caracas.
The day was not without incident. I went a bit too deep into Catia for my comfort and at some point decided to make a U-turn and turn back. Unfortunately, there were some cops right at the end of the U-turn, which proceeded to stop me. They made me get out of the car, open the trunk, show all the papers etc. They then proceeded to bounce me from cop to cop telling me what I did was illegal, bla, bla, bla. All the time I kept saying, yes I know it was illegal, sorry, I was lost and did not feel safe. They talked about tickets, amounts, I could not drive etc, etc., while I said I knew. After three cops, they brought the lady cop who informed me that the penalty was all of Bs. 1,500, three months of suspended driving etc. I said, what can I say, I wanted to be safe.
It seemed that they were expecting me to offer a “solution” to the problem. Since I did not, she gave all the papers back to the first guy (the nicest one too) who told me since I had accepted my responsibility from the go he was going to let me go without writing up a fine.
Perhaps the salient feature of the whole thing is how they attempted to use a lot of big words when talking to me, but always relaxing back to slang in the end. While they had me there another car was stopped, but they withdrew guns, but I was getting into the car by then and set into the sun, like good devils do.