Caracazo, this is an event that I overlooked when it happened. (In my defense; I was quite young when it happened). I had completely forgot that it even happened. It was a big step towards the current state of affairs in Venezuela.
February 27, 1989
When I read about this event; I see not just the turmoil of the neighborhoods but I see where the government when wrong. I see that the government underestimated the demands of the people and overlooked the level of desire for change. It was more than a rise in the price of gasoline and an increase in transportation costs.
There were miscalculations in what the police were supposed to do. Swift action may have helped stem some of the looting and violence. But the delay in action exacerbated the melee. The answering government forces found themselves face to face with armed people shooting back.
The government suspended multiple portions of the constitution. Not determining what rights were actually in effect. (Very unpopular is the idea that the government suspended most of the civil liberties that western civilization holds dear).
It was very remarkable that many of the rioters destroyed buildings and property used in food distribution. The rioters had not followed a code in picking their targets for destruction. It almost seemed that the government saw the boiling over of their anger.
Caracazo wasn’t the end. It almost seemed like it was the beginning of uncertainty and change. The end result might have been instability. The idea of rioting and unrest spread to many other cities. It set the pace for neoliberal governments rise in Venezuela and the subsequent problems seen today.
I feel like we overlook supposedly small events like the Caracazo instead of learning from them. We overlook the determination and the abilities of a determined populace. We shouldn’t be experiencing anything like them but since we don’t learn from history; we often repeat it.