“We’re from the Streets and We Want Change”

(p. A9) CARACAS, Venezuela — On a sunny afternoon, Jorge Millán, an opposition candidate for congress, walked through the narrow streets of a lower-middle-class neighborhood, pressing the flesh in what was once a no man’s land for people like him.

. . .
With the economy sinking under the weight of triple-digit inflation, a deep recession, shortages of basic goods and long lines at stores despite the nation’s vast oil reserves, the opposition has its best chance in years to win a legislative majority.
. . .
“I was a Chavista, but Chávez isn’t here anymore,” said Mr. Omaña, referring to the followers of the former president.
“It’s this guy,” he said, referring to Mr. Maduro. “It’s not the same.”
Mr. Omaña complained about having to stand in long lines to buy food and about the fast-rising prices, saying that for the first time since Mr. Chávez was elected in 1998 he would vote for an opposition candidate.
“Enough is enough,” he said. “We need something good for Venezuela.”
Venezuelan politics was dominated after 1998 by Mr. Chávez and the movement he started, which he called the Bolivarian revolution, after the country’s independence hero, Simón Bolívar. Mr. Chávez died in 2013, and his disciple, Mr. Maduro, was elected to succeed him, vowing to continue Mr. Chávez’s socialist-inspired policies.
. . .
Opposition candidates said one of the biggest surprises of the campaign has been the warm reception they have received in what were once hostile pro-government strongholds.
Carlos Mendoza, 53, a motorcycle taxi driver and former convict who works in the district where Mr. Millán is running, said that he belongs to a group, known as a colectivo, that in the past was paid by the government to help out during campaigns, attend rallies and drive voters to the polls. Such groups were also often used to intimidate opposition supporters.
“They called us again this time,” Mr. Mendoza said. “I told them, ‘No way, you’re not using me again.’ ”
“We’re from the streets,” he said, “and we want change.”

For the full story, see:
WILLIAM NEUMAN. “Venezuela’s Economic Pain Gives Opposition Lift Before Vote.” The New York Times (Sat., DEC. 5, 2015): A9.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 4, 2015, and has the title “Venezuela’s Economic Woes Buoy Opposition Before Election.”)

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