Caracas residents resume lives in trepidation after gang, police clashes
By Saraí Coscojuela and Rayner Peña
Caracas, Jul 13 (EFE).- After 72 long hours of shootouts, residents of western Caracas attempted to return to business as usual on Tuesday amid uncertainty and a fragile sense of calm.
The clashes between armed gangs and police officers started in Cota 905 — a slum in the west of the Venezuelan capital — on Wednesday last week.
The fighting extended to at least five different areas of the city, leaving the streets of west Caracas deserted for days.
At least four police officers and 22 “criminal” gang members were killed during the shootouts that silenced the neighborhood, justice minister Carmen Melendez reported on Saturday.
Melendez said innocent civilians also lost their lives but did not give an exact figure.
Luis Sanchez’s wife could have been one of those victims, after two bullets landed in the 85-year-old’s house in the middle of the day on Thursday. Luckily, she managed to avoid the bullets and survive, Sanchez told Efe.
Shocked by the events that have become “normal” in the neighborhood, Josefina Herrera is one of those who lives in constant fear for her life. Since the shootings ended, she has not found the courage to leave her home.
“If they don’t capture these people (gang members) it could happen again at any moment, hopefully it won’t happen, hopefully it will end,” said the local resident.
Fellow local resident Carlos Lopez tries to remain optimistic, despite admitting to Efe he was scared and worried at the sound of the gunshots.