Venezuela. Days of Upheaval. December 2016. At 3 a.m., long after their two daughters have gone to bed, Richard and Elixa slip out of the house. By the time they reach the supermarket, a Costco-like behemoth controlled by the Venezuelan government, several hundred people are already assembled in the dark. Richard writes two numbers on his left wrist — 51 and 52 — designating his and Eli’s places in line. To stay alert, he flags down a vendor selling thimble-sized cups of sugary coffee. At 9 a.m., the couple is finally admitted into the store, and they come out with their ration for the day — two packets of pasta. They head home to cook breakfast for their girls.
The California Sunday Magazine
Venezuela. Days of Upheaval. December 2016. Word spreads that there’s a problem at the men’s jail in Boleíta, on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela. Relatives of the inmates — sisters, girlfriends, wives, and mothers — form a wall in front of the compound. Inmates send out anxious text messages. There are rumors of violent attacks against prisoners and of guards being taken hostage. The women describe the jail as a bleak and brutal place where the inmates must pay bribes for food and water. Many of the men have been forced to sleep standing up, they say, because it’s so overcrowded. Police arrive, and the women demand answers. They stand their ground until after dark, despite a volley of birdshot and pepper spray from the police.