Jogging In Large Groups, And Other Protection Tactics
Three nights a week, as many as 300 Runners Venezuela members jog along the streets of Caracas to maintain their fitness while avoiding being kidnapped. It's one approach to maintaining normality in an increasingly dangerous city.
A recent spate of kidnappings led a group of friends in Venezuela’s capital city of Caracas to form a running group. Through Twitter and other social media, word spread, and now as many as 300 Runners Venezuela members can be seen jogging together three nights a week. At each meeting, people are sorted according to how many kilometers they plan to run that night. Co-founder Arturo Hidalgo says, “We take care of each other. We go back and forth. We look for the last one. We don’t leave until the last one is accounted for.”
What’s the Big Idea?
It’s one of several drastic measures residents are taking to maintain normality in a city that in 2012 experienced almost 4,000 homicides — more than any city in the world — and where Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro sent troops to deal with the rash of crime. In addition, a recent Gallup poll of citizens in 134 countries showed that Venezuelans were the least likely to feel safe. Still, people like runner Andrea Pereira have managed to adapt: “My family, they were really worried…So I said, ‘Mom, I am going with a big group.’ She said, a big group running at night, here in Caracas? You have to be kidding me.”