18 years ago, on the 27th of February, we had a terrible uprising here in Venezuela. I had meant to post this yesterday, but was not able to do so. These are my memories of those days.
We had recently purchased a used, but new to us, van. The problem that day was that the electric window on the passenger side got stuck with the window down. We couldn't leave the car parked with the window open as it would be stolen. I had to ride around with my husband as he did some needed business so that I could stay with the car.
We went to a store where he had to run in to get something. I was sitting in the car, no keys, the window down, and started hearing the "mob". The "mob" has a distinctive sound, a low rumble coming your way that gets louder and louder. As soon as it registered with me that they were turning the corner and heading my way, I saw the stores guards quickly lowering the protective(garage type) doors over each entrance to the store. My dilemma was, I couldn't roll up my window and I didn't have keys!!! I was the only one outside. These student protest love to burn vehicles, and a van would be too good to miss!!!
I began to do some serious praying...now remember my husband is locked IN the store and I am locked OUT of the store! An older man came around the corner and saw me as I was getting out of the van...I don't know where I thought to go, but I knew I had to get out and away from the van.
The "mob" at this point was about 100 meters from me. The man was gesturing for me to come around the corner with him. He said there was an underground drainage ditch and that we could hide there. I remember thinking, "What? Am I a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?"
At that same time my husband had begged and convinced a guard to raise the door enough for him to crawl out to me and the man crawled in. He yelled at me to get in the van.
As we took off, the mob continued on to the store. WHEW!!! CLOSE CALL!!!
We didn't realize at that time that in Caracas things were much worse! Another missionary family came over for dinner that night. We started hearing the tanks on the street and decided to turn on the news. We found out that there were terrible riots through out the country due to a raise in gas prices and public transportation, and that we were under martial law.
The government removed the "guaranties" this is like the Bill of Rights being revoked. We were not to leave our homes as the soldiers were shooting first and asking questions later. The family got stuck at our house for a few days because of the curfews. But it was good to be together! After a bit, the curfew was lifted to just 6 pm to 6 am. I think this was the first time I smelled tear gas. I remember Joshua having asthma problems due to it and being afraid to take him to the doctors. We had a nebulizer at home so we treated him as best we could.
They say over a thousand people died in the Carcazo. They have found mass graves and there are still people unaccounted for. Many were shot in their homes and many were killed with stray bullets. I remember putting the kids in a corner and standing a mattress up to the window. The kids liked to hide under the bed when the tanks drove by. They thought it was a game! It is one of those times you never forget.
The looting was rampant. We saw 2 guys with a double mattress between them on a motorcycle. We saw people carrying refrigerators out of the store. Our church was in a shopping center right down the road from us. The entire place was looted, but not the church.
With all the looting and shooting and the curfews, no goods were transported for a few weeks.
I had been using my last little bit of cooking oil and was down to a quarter cup when the curfew was lifted. We had to travel to Caracas to renew our visas which had expired during the Caracazo.
I entered one of the largest grocery stores in Caracas, and the shelves were mostly empty. On one aisle, both sides were empty, BUT I spotted 1 bottle of cooking oil. I quickly headed for it in great excitement. A man turned the corner and reached for the bottle the same time as I did. I surprised myself, by grabbing it firmly and telling him, "This is mine!!" He let go and backed off with his hands up in surrender. I was embarrassed that I had reacted that way! My husband was a few feet away and he looked to be in shock!
I turned the corner, and...I saw an aisle, both sides loaded with nothing but ...
COOKING OIL!!! The same man was picking up several bottles, now I was not only embarrassed , I was deeply ashamed!!
I learned a few things about myself that day,
1. I am selfish!
2. I am a fool!
Whenever I feel myself beginning to panic over something, I remember that day. What I wanted and needed was just around the corner, but I foolishly fought for what I thought was the only way left for me to get what I wanted!