It’s at the military barracks here that former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez led a failed coup attempt and where he was laid to rest after dying of cancer at 58. On Wednesday, one year after his death, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Cuban President Raul Castro joined with Chavez’s handpicked successor Nicolas Maduro to remember the comandante at his tomb.
Protests have rocked Venezuela in the weeks preceding the anniversary.
Members of the opposition movement are fed up with violent crime, the high rate of inflation and shortages of basic goods like toilet paper and flour. According to the Venezuelan government, 18 people have died in the protests so far, and many more have been injured and detained by police.
The movement has become known for the barricades of trash, furniture and other objects protesters use to block roadways, and the tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets police have used in response.
But the opposition has struggled to include Chavez supporters, whose patience with Maduro may be wearing thin. The violence and economic hurdles that anger middle-class supporters impact those in barrios like 23 de Enero even more acutely. Many loyal Chavistas say they still support Maduro, and that they want to ensure the longevity of Chavez’s achievements. Maduro is the man he picked for the job.
While protests continued Wednesday in posher parts of Caracas, in 23 de Enero, residents are more interested in paying homage to Chavez than considering his successor. Here, the loyalty to Chavez, and Maduro by extension, remains strong.