Proletariat Protests Communist Dictator
(p. A4) CARACAS, Venezuela -- Thousands took to the streets here on Thursday [September 1, 2016] to demand the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro in what appeared to be the year's largest display of frustration with Venezuela's economic collapse and leadership.
The march, which protesters called "the taking of Caracas," was organized by political opponents of the country's ruling leftists. The marchers took over a major highway and several avenues in Caracas, the nation's capital, and poured into the city's plazas in an effort to gain momentum for a referendum to recall Mr. Maduro.
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Ivonne Mejías, 42, who wore a headband of yellow, blue and red, the colors of the Venezuelan flag, said the situation had become so difficult that she had not been able to bake birthday cakes for her children this year. Her family of four gets by on just $25 a week, Ms. Mejías said, and she has taken to making piñatas to earn extra money.
"Sometimes I want to kill myself," she said. "I am frustrated, I am out of control, I am fighting with this world. This isn't my life. My soul splits in two when my kids beg for something -- for an ice cream, for a cookie -- and I can't give it to them. The most difficult thing is getting food."
Víctor Guilarte, 45, a mechanic from a Caracas suburb, said his work had vanished because his neighbors had become so poor they could not afford car repairs. Two weeks ago, he said, he visited his family in another state and found the situation even worse.
"I came back feeling destroyed -- they had no food," he said. "I am tired of Maduro and his government, tired of crime, of hunger, of them telling us we have plenty to eat.
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Marly Torrealba, 37, a single mother, came by bus from Barlovento, a city once known for its cacao production. Ms. Torrealba complained that the government had abandoned the city to organized crime, and it was now rocked by killings, extortions and kidnappings.
"Farm workers have abandoned the crop because of crime," she said, "and the criminals charge us protection money and rob everything in sight."
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(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 1, 2016, and has the title "Thousands March in Venezuela to Demand President's Ouster.")