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News > Latin America

Venezuela Opposition Disrupts by Day, Enjoys High Life by Night

  • Violent opposition protester and one of the exclusive bars that cater to the rich right-wing.

    Violent opposition protester and one of the exclusive bars that cater to the rich right-wing. | Photo: Reuters-AFP

Published 19 July 2017
Opinion

Chacao’s ritzy bars, strip clubs and marble-floored shopping malls offer the best place for the elite to escape.

Chacao is Caracas’ smallest district, but also the wealthiest. It is packed with gated residences, a half dozen shopping malls and an elite golfing enclave. “It’s the Manhattan of Caracas,” Ramon Muchacho, mayor of the district, said.

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However, as the most central district that the Venezuelan opposition controls, Chacao has become the epicenter of violent opposition-led protests. Since April, at least 95 people have died in the protests aimed at toppling President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

During the day, anti-government protesters erect fiery barricades and provoke violence with the police or passersby. But after the sun goes down, Chacao’s ritzy bars, strip clubs and marble-floored shopping malls offer the best place for the elite to escape.

“In the day, I’m in the march or the barricades,” Alexandra Lovera, a 24-year-old culinary student, told Bloomberg Businessweek as she was attending a birthday party at the posh restaurant La Esquina in Chacao.

“I come home, bathe and change and text my friends, ‘What’s the plan?’” she said. “It’s like a routine.”

Juan Carlos Senior, who opened La Esquina in 2015 with a partner, said protesters come to the restaurant wearing the opposition’s white clothes and red-yellow-and-blue cap after demonstrations.

“You protest in the morning,” Senior said, “but that doesn’t mean you stop living.”

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“This is the country of magical surrealism,” said Edgar Grossmann, a transportation company owner. “The country’s going to hell, but people keep going out — there’s no alternative.”

Jose Cabrera, a 22-year-old university student, said, “Look, I march, I protest ... But what are we going to do at night? Are we going to block a street? Are we going to march on Miraflores Palace? I’ll be back out on the streets tomorrow at 7 a.m., even with a hangover.”

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