This weekend marks the beginning of the carnaval holiday, a time that is synonymous with trips to the beach and parties with friends and family in Venezuela. During the holiday, Venezuelans get together with family and go on camping trips, typically to the country’s interior or its many beaches.
As in previous years, the national government plays an important role in fanning the carnaval atmosphere, encouraging Venezuelans to enjoy their vacations and assuring them that the state will ensure that they have a safe an enjoyable time.
This year, the Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace – responsible for policing in the country – will be using drones for the first time in its carnaval security operations. Along with the unmanned vehicles, the ministry will also deploy a number of more traditional assets throughout the country to ensure safety during the carnaval season, including:
- 140,601 police officers
- 8,609 vehicles
- 12,089 motorcycles
- 442 ambulances
- 231 fire engines
The extra security forces will be concentrated along 4,167 security checkpoints spread across the country.
While carnaval provides a much needed respite from the socio-economic crisis affecting the country, three municipalities in Carabobo state cancelled their planned festivities due to a lack of potable water. The affected municipalities are Puerto Cabello, Naguanagua and Moron.
Al Jazeera Interviews Bachaquero
Al Jazeera has published a video on its website which briefly profiles the work of Miguel Perez, a bachaquero [literally “big ant”; a derogatory word for people who buy goods only to re-sell at a profit] from Caracas. The video is in English.
In the video, Perez talks about how he has struck a deal with a local business for them to sell him subsidized products at a premium, and that he then sells those same goods at an even higher premium on the streets.
Subway Robbery Victim Recounts Event
Daniela Velasquez, a resident of Caracas, recounted how a masked group of men carrying weapons robbed an entire subway train yesterday afternoon.
Through her Twitter account, Velasquez said:
A group of people got on at the Colegio de Ingenieros [Engineers’ College station] station to rob us. I was asleep, and when I woke up I saw more than six hooded men carrying pistols. The train stopped, and the lights went off. One of the punks managed to grab a hold of me, but a woman nearby grabbed my arm and pulled me away forcefully.
Bedlam broke out when commuters forced the train’s doors open and the passengers stampeded out onto the tracks in panic. Velasquez said:
Children got lost and we all started crying. It was horrible. They [the train driver] never opened the damn doors, so we had to open them ourselves. We could only get three doors open, and there was a horrendous amount of people there. I had to ask someone for help because I was so nervous. When I made it out onto the tracks I fell, but someone was able to help me. All the while, the punks were still casually robbing people on the train.
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