Venezuela’s political crisis continues to splinter the country

World Today

A banner with the image of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez stands outside of his home in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. Allies of two Venezuelan opposition leaders say Lopez and Antonio Ledezma have been taken by authorities from the homes where they were under house arrest. Video posted on the Twitter account of Lopez’s wife early Tuesday, Aug. 1, shows a man being taken away from a Caracas home by state security agents. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

For supporters and opponents, Caracas can be a tale of two cities.

CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs reports on the growing divide.

Whenever there is a protest against the government of Nicolas Maduro, Analicia Vaamonde goes.

Since April, opposition supporters, angry at the collapse of the economy and what they see as President Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian rule, said all they can do is take to the streets.

“Now we were convoked to march to the ministry of justice and the National Guard blocked the way. They were firing tear gas from here and here. So we have to go back. This is not safe,” Vaamonde said.

A law graduate, she has never been politically active. But along with what are now most Venezuelans, she believes her government is taking this country on the wrong path.

Analicia explained her main criticisms of the government. “I think it’s the whole thing. I cannot name five things that I’m happy with in the country. Not in the economic part, or the social part, the political part. I think it’s just like a huge mess.”

But around 20 percent of Venezuelans still support the President.

Among them are Maria Fernanda Sanchez and her mother Violeta Antonetti. Both describe themselves as ‘Chavistas’. They believe in the leftist movement of president Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez. They now feel they are in the minority.

Antonetti said she doesn’t try to persuade her friends to see her side and her daughter agrees.

“Like my mom said, sometimes there are people who really react aggressively, but mostly I think they are kind of surprised or shocked that I’m Chavista,” Maria Fernanda Sanchez said.

Maria Fernanda, an English language teacher who is visiting Venezuela from her new home in Japan said she understands why the opposition is gaining support.

“I do feel that some people are genuinely going to the protests because they have a different perspective of how Venezuela should be run, which is totally a right as citizens. But then again, there are a lot of people that I know or friends that I know that go there without really understanding what they’re doing there,” Sanchez said. “I mean, I think I sympathize with the feeling, but not with the violence.”

As these protests continue they are becoming more violent. The two sides blame each other for that.

“What scares me the most is that there are people trying to really use that difference, that divisive rhetoric of ‘You’re Chavista, you’re for the opposition, and they’re using that to create chaos,'” Sanchez said.

Maria Fernanda said she will be coming back to live full time in Venezuela soon.

But Analicia is leaving Venezuela. She has come to the conclusion that her own country is no longer a place she feels at home.