“It makes no sense! You go into a Chavista’s house and Chávez and Maduro’s faces are everywhere but you open their fridge and it is empty! Empty!” This was the passionate reaction I received from an acquaintance I was chatting with yesterday when I commented that protests in Caracas have not seemed to receive support from popular sectors in the city.
His frustration came from seemingly inexplicable support for a government under whose watch food has become both more expensive and more difficult to find.
In the past year the large majority of Venezuelans have been hit hard by the food shortages this man was referencing. Indeed, it is specifically for this reason that some hoped protests would unite the country around common concerns and cross class lines.
Nevertheless, the protests have remained largely identified with the middle and upper classes, failing to gain traction in the popular sectors. Rather than uniting Venezuela it seems more likely that protests have deepened divisions and polarization.
Why have common concerns not produced cross-class concerted action here? Just last year we saw exactly this happen with Brazil’s “Spring of Unrest.”