Monday, January 28, 2019

As Venezuela’s two presidents face off, children scavenge for food and soldiers run out of patience


The drive into the hills around Caracas passes a burned-out police station, an overturned car, queues for bread, and a smoldering trash can. Together, they signal a troubling new message for Venezuela’s embattled government: It’s time to go.This hillside community is where President Nicolas Maduro has nurtured his base of poor Venezuelans, trading vital state handouts for loyalty.
Yet last week, night after night, locals have clashed with police special forces. On the afternoon we visited, armed forces were raiding homes and taking away residents.Here, local resident Carolina’s pristine porch belies the squalor she and her extended family endure.
Their fridge contains two soda bottles, some pasta and condiments, and little else. Her young cousins play Grand Theft Auto, a relic of a better life, while she shows us cellphone videos of police raids and demonstrations. “My hand was shaking,” she said of the grainy video of gunfire and locals banging pots in protest.Hundred of thousands have taken to the streets to protest Maduro’s regime in the past week. Amid the furor, opposition leader Juan Guaidó has declared himself president, prompting declarations of support from the United States, United Kingdom and most of Latin America, and calls for new elections.

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