Venezuelans clean up after day of violent protests


Working class neighborhoods in Venezuela‘s capital sifted through charred rubble and smoldering trash on Tuesday, after violence erupted in the streets a day prior.

Local merchant Carmen Martinez said her neighbors in Caracas are fed up with rising costs and a lack of basic goods.

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“The people are going into the streets just for that reason,” Martinez said. “What do you do? Nobody seems to notice us.”

The isolated protests on Monday came in response to the arrest of 27 National Guardsmen who mounted an uprising against President Nicolas Maduro.

Opposition leaders have regained momentum in their efforts to oust Maduro as the once-wealthy oil nation slides into a deepening political and economic crisis. Calls for action from the international community are also rising as leaders say they consider him illegitimate.

On Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pledged his support for the people of Venezuela.

“Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power,” Pence said in a video message. “He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.”

Juan Guaido, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, called for a nationwide demonstration Wednesday, urging Venezuelans to abandon Maduro. Guaido has lodged a campaign for the support of the armed forces, which Maduro’s government relies on to suppress unrest.

Protests from early Monday continued into the night with sounds of gunfire in some neighborhoods where people had burned barricades made of trash and tires. Others banged together pots and pans from their open windows.

Drivers in one neighborhood veered around an overturned garbage bin that still smoldered, while dozens of empty tear gas canisters fired by security forces at angry residents littered a nearby street.

Other roads remained blocked by gutted cars and tree branches.

Meanwhile, people gathered on the sidewalks trying to come to terms with the damage and thinking about what would happen during Wednesday’s opposition march. The smell of tear gas lingered in the air.

Student Jesus Veroes said he’s saddened by the clash that left a burned ruin of the Robert Serra cultural center, which is named for an important socialist leader.

Officials say criminals threw molotov cocktails into the center where children would go to read. Veroes blamed people from outside the neighborhood for its destruction.

“We condemn all fascist and terrorist acts that threaten our people and the historical legacy of the Bolivarian Revolution,” Mayerlin Arias of the Ministry of Urban Agriculture said on Twitter. “Robert Serra is an indestructible legacy of revolutionary struggle.”