Monday, November 19, 2007

Zero Paranoia

We shot our commercials in a zone of Caracas that has an evil reputation. For the tech scout (the visit to the location before the shoot), we had to bring a policeman. For the shoot itself we had about four guards posted about. We closed off a couple of streets. It seemed like a very quiet lower class neighborhood. It's walls had layers and layers of paint, creating instant works of modern art. We spent a sunny day there in full view of nosy but friendly neighbors, who were very happy and curious we were shooting there. At no time did I ever feel threatened or unsafe. So our wonderful director of photography, Gonzalo Amat, and I, both natives of Mexico City, were wondering if the tales one hears about the dangers of Caracas are indeed true, or are, as is sometimes the case in the improved Mexico City crime situation, the result of social paranoia.
The Magnificent Arepa informed us that she spoke to our security guards and they told her they saw members of motorcycle gangs trying to get close to the shoot, but since they were there, they were not able to come in. Had they done so, it is agreed they would have stolen absolutely everything, including the camera. Then later we heard about a couple who left a wedding party and they were accosted by thieves trying to steal their car. They stupidly resisted and lost both their lives in the process. As the thieves couldn't abscond with the car in question, they left that one there and stole another one. Magnificent Arepa, who is a fearless traveler, said there is zero paranoia in Caracas. The fears are all well founded.
In the meantime, Chavez does lots for the poor (who live in the most dangerous neighborhoods). He gives them cheaper food and free eyeglasses, and Cuban doctors, and plenty of tired sloganeering. But he seems unwilling to change the crime situation in the city, which typically affects not the ultra wealthy, (who close off streets and hire private security) but the hard working people.

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