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Venezuela trains mimes to fight traffic chaos

Venezuela is sending mimes into the streets of Caracas to crack down on lawless drivers and wayward pedestrians, following the lead of other Latin American countries that have hired traffic safety mimes.
Mimes directing traffic 10 08 2011Enlarge
Mimes urge pedestrians to obey the trafic signals during a city campaign to reduce the casualties due to road accidents in Sao Paulo on September 27, 2011. Venezuela is also using mimes to try and stop traffic violations. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuela is using mimes to try and control the notoriously chaotic traffic in Caracas, the capital, following the lead of other Latin American countries that have hired traffic safety mimes.

Mimes in white gloves and face paint are being sent into the Caracas streets to wag their fingers at traffic violators and jaywalkers, the Associated Press reports.

According to the AP:

They found plenty to keep them busy in a city where motorcycle riders roar down sidewalks, buses drop passengers in the middle of busy streets and drivers treat red lights and speed limits as suggestions rather than orders.

While it may seem like an unusual approach to enforcing traffic laws, Venezuela is following in the footsteps of several other countries in central and South America that have trained mimes in a bid to control traffic. 

The pioneer is considered to be Antanas Mockus, a former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, who used traffic mimes to mock and shame drivers as part of a successful campaign to tame his city's lawless traffic.

Mimes have also been used in Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, and in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

It is not clear why mimes have become a popular way of fighting traffic chaos in Latin America.

In Venezuela, about 120 mimes took to streets in the Sucre district of Caracas this week to reprimand drivers and pedestrians — in some instances, drawing angry reactions and insults from annoyed motorists, the AP reports.

But most Caracas citizens have reportedly responded with good humor to the mimes.

"Many times, the mimes can achieve what traffic police cannot achieve using warning and sanctions in their efforts to maintain control," Alex Ojeda, president of a cultural organization that employed professional actors to train the mimes in Caracas, told the AP.

"Mimes, on the contrary, often achieve the same objective by employing artistic and peaceful actions."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/venezuela-mimes-traffic-laws