Police in one part of Caracas are welcoming a new initiative to address the chronic problem of crowded, dangerous streets: mimes.
Sucre, in the eastern part of the Venezuelan capita of Caracas, has deployed 120 mimes dressed as clowns into the streets, making frowning faces and wagging their white-gloved fingers at motorists who ignore traffic signals and crosswalks, motorcyclists and cyclists who ride the wrong way on one-way streets, and even pedestrians who cross in the middle of streets, not at designated crosswalks.
That's not the worst of it, though. Among the complaints that led to the unique traffic management system were reports of motorcycles barreling down sidewalks, buses letting off passengers in the middle of traffic, and drivers who missed exits choosing to reverse up ramps back into traffic to carry on with their journey. The complaint mentioned the most was, of course, drivers running red lights.
The mimes have been on the streets for about a week now, doing their best to succeed where law enforcement has failed. No injuries have been reported.
The mimes, who were trained by professional actors, have reported a difference in drivers' behavior, when they notice. Response from drivers has run from annoyance, accompanied by verbal rebukes, to acceptance, with many a favorable wave.
The mayor of Sucre, Carlos Ocariz, vowed to keep the program growing until noticeable results had been achieved.
A similar initiative found success in Bogota, Colombia, a few years ago.