Venezuela’s poor join protests as turmoil grips Chávez’s revolution

Thursday, February 20, 2014
By Paul Martin

Government claims protests bear the hallmarks of US-backed coup plot led by jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López

Virginia López in Caracas and Jonathan Watts
The Guardian
Thursday 20 February 2014

The poor neighbourhood of Petare in western Caracas is not an obvious hotbed of anti-government sentiment. In the past, its residents have been among the major beneficiaries of Venezuela’s public health and education campaigns, and an economic policy that resulted in one of the sharpest falls in inequality in the world.

But as demonstrations sweep several major cities, even the people of Petare have taken to the streets to protest again surging inflation, alarming murder rates and shortages of essential commodities.

Jorge Farias, a self-employed motorcycle taxi driver, once voted for the late president Hugo Chávez, but this week he joined opposition rallies.

“This country can’t stay like this for much longer. If it’s not lack of food, it is the fear of being killed when you step out of your house to go to work”, he said. “I would like to wake up without this fear,” he added. “I have never seen this country in this state of total collapse. We are going from bad to worse, and we are losing faith”.

“Ya esta bueno ya”, is phrase which Venezuelans are hearing with increasing frequency. Roughly translated as “Enough already”, the slogan captures a wide-spread sense of discontent and growing uncertainty over the country’s future.

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