cristina-machado

Is Venezuela burning? A letter from Caracas

Caracas is seeing an uprising of the middle classes and the rich. The working class neighbourhoods remain loyal to the government, but also deeply cynical about the extraordinary corruption of the heirs of Chavez. Mike Gonzalez analyses this contradictory situation:

For over a week now, the world’s press and media have carried images of a Venezuela in flames. Burning buses, angry demonstrations, public buildings under siege. But the pictures are rarely explained or placed in any kind of context and people are left to assume that this one more urban riot, one more youth rebellion against the crisis, like those in Greece and Spain.

The reality is both very different and far more complex. Venezuela, after all, is a society that declared war on neoliberalism fifteen years ago.

Caracas, where this series of events began, is a divided city. Its eastern part is middle class and prosperous; to the west, the population is poorer. The political divide reflects exactly the social division. Leopoldo Lopez, who has been a leader of this new phase of violent opposition to the government of Nicolas Maduro, was mayor of one of the eastern districts. Together with another prominent right wing anti-chavista, Maria Corina Machado, he had issued a call for an open public meeting the previous Sunday to demand the fall of the government. Youth Day, on Wednesday February 12th, provided an opportunity to bring out students to march, demonstrate and occupy the streets.

Keep reading