On January 21st, Plaza Bolivar was full of chavistas who cheered as President Maduro walked towards the National Assembly building to give his annual national address to the legislature. Supporters did creative street actions, theater pieces, and showed their force in support of the President.
While no one is denying the existence of lines and scarcity in Venezuela, the government supporters who gathered in the plaza to show their support for President Maduro outlined the interests behind the economic war.
“Who benefits from the Economic Crisis?” was scribbled on a sandwich board hanging around the shoulders of Carbin Merio in Plaza Bolivar yesterday. People came up to use the marker and write answers to the question. The answers included, “the parasitic bourgeoisie” “the empire” and “the opposition.”
Merio, who is from the Parroquia of San Juan noted, “the economic situation is delicate in the country in this moment because we are in the middle of an economic war created by Empire to fuel tensions between people and to topple our government because their (the opposition) other strategies to do so (topple the government) have failed.¨”
“This impacts all of us,” said government supporter Maribel Lenda, referring to the difficult economic circumstances in the country. “Not only the opposition but the revolutionaries too. Perhaps, the revolutionaries more because we are poorer,” she added.
Contrary to the reporting in the International Press which has blamed the economic problems on the failed policies of the Chavez and Maduro governments combined with falling oil prices, many of the grassroots Venezuelans who came out to cheer on their President agree with the analysis that the economic problems are a part of a broader political strategy to oust Maduro. Nonetheless, the difficult situations, the soaring inflations, lack of basic goods and long lines have created serious problems for many Venezuelans and a certain level of “indifference” even among some Chavistas, as one government supporter admitted.
“Yes, we are all annoyed about the lines. It causes inconvenience. I am annoyed and I am a revolutionary chavista. We are annoyed but it is not the government´s fault,” Angel Rorones from La Vega declared. “People are tired of the lines but they are not tired of the revolution. We are going to defend the revolution on whatever terrain we have to,” he said enthusiastically.
As Maduro began addressing the National Assembly at around 6pm last night, people trickled out of the Plaza Bolivar and headed home and Maduro´s speech continued past 9pm. It is still unclear if the measures that he announced will provide the change that many Venezuelans are hoping for but the mobilization in Plaza Bolivar yesterday demonstrated ongoing support for the government even through economic hardships.