Caracas was like many big cities in the world at night – crazy traffic, people entering and leaving shops, restaurants and dance clubs – but now that night is falling in the Venezuelan capital, it seems to be more and more a ghost town.
Many street lamps do not work. Residents avoid leaving home because of their crime or lack of spending, as a gradual economic collapse has accelerated in the political struggle between Socialist President Nicolas Maduro and his enemies at home and abroad. A series of devastating nationwide blackouts over the past month have dramatized disintegration.
Even under daylight, billboards often have nothing to carry, their skeleton scaffolding was empty long after the tearing of the old advertising by the wind.
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At dusk, many facades are closed only with graffiti-torn security doors. Often, only a single store in a city block can remain open and wait for scant customers. Others close earlier, like a beauty salon, and the few remaining customers who have to choose between the simple luxury of hair-cutting or buying groceries.
The Caracas district La Mercedes, famous for its upscale shopping and nightlife, has not been spared. Many of its pubs and chic restaurants have no waiters and customers. In a mall, the lights stay on, but the doors lock hours earlier than before when they were bursting with life.
Skyscrapers are not finished, the workers have long since given up their jobs. The windows are covered with cardboard rather than glass.
Inhabitants desperately seeking cash turn pedestrian strips into their makeshift shops and sell old shoes or used shirts as merchandise.
The poor and hungry ransack the household garbage, scatter it across the street corners before it is collected, and reach for anything he can eat or eat.
Despair and corruption mark a fall for a country that has greater oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and is one of Latin America's highest living conditions
Maduro accuses his domestic opponents and the increasing influence of US economic sanctions, of which he says they are part of a coup that aims to overthrow its socialist government.
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The opposition, led by lawmaker Juan Guaidó, has been accused of years of corrupt leadership, lack of investment and economic attacks that have made the country dependent on a collapse oil sector and remittances from millions of people who have come from growing need , On Wednesday, 15 US Senators introduced a bipartisan law providing US $ 400 million in new aid, internationalizing sanctions, and providing sanctions against Venezuelan citizens who recognize this as Guaidó's country president.
Maduro still has the support of much of the Venezuelan military, including his hierarchy, and is still receiving aid from countries such as Russia, Cuba and China.
A Venezuelan expert at Tulane University, David Smilde, wrote in The Conversation: "Russia has become Maduro's main ally, and Russian military equipment and related personnel sent in in March will probably help bring it back from Russia To maintain and operate the S-300 air defense system of Venezuela, which protects the capital and major military bases from air raids. "
The Associated Press contributed to this report.