Please pray for the people of Venezuela during this time of unrest.
By the thousands, Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took to the streets on Saturday expressing their outrage over the country’s deepening economic crisis and trying to rebuild momentum sapped after a string of electoral defeats.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles lost the presidential election by a thin margin to Maduro in April following the death of Hugo Chavez. Fatigue besets both sides in this deeply polarized nation and approximately 5,000 people gathered at Plaza Venezuela in Caracas to march with Capriles which is a far cry from the masses that flooded Caracas’s avenues during his final rally during the presidential campaign.
Government intimidation, internal power struggles and virtually no access to televised media have disheartened most of the opposition and leaves it in a weaker position to challenge Maduro, even as the president’s approval ratings have declined. “Capriles said that a close aide was roughed up by military intelligence officers and hauled away from his hotel overnight. The whereabouts of Alejandro Silva, Capriles’ schedule coordinator were unknown, the opposition leader said in messages posted on Twitter. Military intelligence refused to comment when contacted but Tourism Minister Andres Izarra said on Twitter that one of Capriles’s “fascist henchmen” had been captured.
Among those in protest was Mari Carmen Calderon, who like many heads of households watched as prices have risen in recent months as salaries remain unchanged and there are widespread shortages of basic goods like toilet paper and milk. Inflation is now running at a two decade high of 54 percent.
Mari, a 52 year old special education teacher said, “We women are here because we know what things cost.” “We’re the ones suffering every day.”
While it would be nearly impossible for the opposition to win the majority of Venezuela’s 335 municipalities, many of which are far flung villages dependent on government patronage, it hopes to win the combined majority of votes nationwide with a strong showing in the larger metropolitan areas.
On Friday night, Maduro said he had ordered the arrest of two members of the opposition, saying they were plotting to stir violence at the protests and then frame pro-government groups, though he did not name them. Opposition leaders have denied the carges and called on the government to identify those who were allegedly detained.