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February 12, 2019

ENDGAME: Even in barrios once devoted to Hugo Chavez, murmurs of opposition grow in Venezuela.

Before Venezuela’s economy began to crumble a few years back, generous government allocations of subsidized food and housing, cash payouts and other amenities helped build and maintain a sturdy citadel for Chavez in La Vega and other government strongholds.

On Jan. 23, however, as opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido publicly declared Maduro a “usurper” and proclaimed himself acting president, some La Vega residents descended to the streets in solidarity. A fearsome elite police squad, the Special Action Force, known as FAES, after its Spanish acronyms, violently broke up the anti-government demonstration, residents say.

But the fact that poor people here and elsewhere took to the streets in protest is seen by some as a sign of a grass-roots political shift in this long-polarized South American nation of 32 million.

“This whole barrio used to be Chavista, but not anymore,” said Karina Monterola, 44, who has lived in La Vega since she was a child. “Why? Because there is hunger, a lack of water, all kinds of shortages. … The minimum wage isn’t enough to afford to eat — much less to buy clothing, or even an ice cream for my daughter.”

Socialism is popular until the other people’s money runs out.

PLUS: Venezuelan Colonel Urges Soldiers To Help US Aid Enter, Says 90% Of Army Against Maduro.