Caracas slum where mob say they’ll fight for Chavez socialist dream

Inside Caracas slum where hard-left ‘Chavistas’ loyal to Maduro say they’ll ‘fight to the death’ to defend crumbling legacy of communist icon Hugo Chavez

  • Crisis-hit Venezuela is beset by empty supermarkets, dwindling medical supplies and massive inflation making people’s meagre salaries almost worthless
  • People unable to afford basic provisions are leaving the country in their droves, heading for the borders of Colombia and Brazil
  • Yet despite the country collapsing and people starving, some die-hard ‘Chavistas’ in Caracas’ ghetto heartlands are clinging on to the socialist dream of Hugo Chavez
  • The hard-left, apparently two million people both young and old, say they are prepared to ‘fight to the death’ to save President Nicolas Maduro, who was selected by Chavez before he died in 2013
  • MailOnline went inside the failed-regime’s most deprived slums where impoverished Venezuelans believe Maduro is continuing the legacy of late dictator Chavez – a revolutionary icon still revered like a God 

As Venezuela crumbles and its people starve, a hardcore of left-wing extremists are preparing to ‘fight to the death’ to support President Nicholas Maduro to the end, MailOnline can reveal.

Ignoring empty supermarkets, dwindling medical supplies and massive inflation, the ghetto heartlands of the country’s capital Caracas remain loyal to the corrupt socialist, who has creamed off millions for personal gain.

MailOnline went inside the failed-regime’s most deprived slums where impoverished Venezuelans believe Maduro is continuing the legacy of late dictator Hugo Chavez – a revolutionary icon still revered like a God.

We spoke to a wide range of people – from a tour guide in his ninth decade to a union leader in his 20s – who all hark back to the golden age of Chavez’s communism. 

MailOnline went inside the failed-regime’s most deprived slums where impoverished Venezuelans believe President Nicholas Maduro is continuing the legacy of late dictator Hugo Chavez – a revolutionary icon still revered like a God 

In the ’23 de Enero’ neighbourhood – named after the date of a military coup to over throw dictator General Marcos Perez Jimene – some Maduro supporters say they will ‘fight to the death’ to keep him in power and defend Chavez’s socialist legacy


We spoke to a wide range of ‘Chavistas’ – from tour guide Luis Cordero Saurez, 85 (right) to union official Jesus Arellano, 25 (left) – who all hark back to the golden age of Chavez’s communism and say the socialist dream comes at any cost

In the January 23 slum a shrine to the late socialist icon has been erected a stones’ throw from the gaudy mausoleum where his remains are protected by guards in 18th century ceremonial parade dress. 

Ten-metre tall murals honouring the double-chinned dictator Chavez – who masterminded the disastrous economic plans that have brought the oil-rich state to its knees – adorn the walls of the shacks in the Caracas slum where everyone supports him 


Embattled leader Nicolas Maduro (left) has resisted pressure to quit and call early elections while Juan Guaidó (right), head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, gathers international recognition after declaring himself interim president 


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Luis Cordero Saurez, 85, is one of the many ‘Chavistas’ whose loyalty to the socialist dream comes at any cost and who claims there are up to two million like him – a significant minority of the 32 million population – ready to back Maduro.

‘There are two million members of the Bolivarian Militia,’ he said. ‘We are here to defend the nation from foreign interference.

‘We were created to defend the people and give them the four elements of happiness – food, shelter, security and work.

Aging tour-guide Luis Cordero Saurez (pictured) says there is a revolutionary army of hard-left extremists willing to give their lives in defence of the Chavez revolution

‘We are all trained to fight. And there is a large arsenal stocked with weapons ready and waiting for us when we need them.’

Dozens of groups called colectivos, or collectives are operating across Venezuela and see themselves as the defenders of Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution and vow to defend his successor, President Maduro, as he faces his biggest challenge yet.

The embattled leader has resisted mounting pressure to step down and call early elections while Juan Guaidó, head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, gathers international recognition after declaring himself interim president. 

In the January 23 slum a shrine to the late socialist icon has been erected a stones’ throw from the gaudy mausoleum where his remains are protected by guards in 18th century ceremonial parade dress.

Ten-metre tall murals honouring the double-chinned dictator Chavez – who masterminded the disastrous economic plans that have brought the oil-rich state to its knees – adorn the walls of the shacks in the Caracas slum where everyone supports him.

Workers from his Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV) stroll the streets in their trade-mark Chavista red shirts, patrolling the run-down neighbourhood, questioning intruders and demanding protection payments from local traders.

Workers from Maduro’s Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV) stroll the streets and members of his notorious ‘colectivos’, armed paramilitary units, patrol the neighbourhood, questioning intruders and demanding protection payments from traders

Despite the country’s economy being on its knees and people not being able to afford basic provisions, those living in the area blame interference, corrupt dock workers and capitalists for the crippling food shortages that plight families in Venezuela

In the January 23 slum in the Venezuelan capital Caracas a shrine to the late socialist icon has been erected a stones’ throw from the gaudy mausoleum where his remains are protected by guards in 18th century ceremonial parade dress 

Venezuela has run out of cash, as the troubled country’s economic and political crisis reaches climax. Basic food provisions – meat, sugar and vegetables – are no longer available, with empty shelves on display in supermarkets in the capital Caracas

Pensioners queue for hours to receive their monthly allowance, now worth just $8 due to the downward-spiraling foreign exchange rate. Only petrol – the country’s lifeblood – remains in huge supply, with the cost of filling up a tank of fuel less than half a US cent. ‘We haven’t had any cash in the bank for over a week,’ a worker at the Banco Provincial told MailOnline

Street vendors and shopkeepers have to rely on card payments to sell the even the most basic of goods – ¢.50 ice-creams, $1-dollar drinks and $2 of phone data. Traders unable to process electronic payments face ruin

Union official Jesus Arellano told MailOnline residents of ’23 de Enero’ or January 23 neighbourhood – named after the date of a military coup to over throw dictator General Marcos Perez Jimenez – would take up arms to ‘defend the Chavista revolution’.

He says despite Venezuela running out of cash with basic food provisions – meat, sugar and vegetables – no longer available, with supermarket shelves empty and a lack of medicine, people remain loyal to Maduro.

Pensioners queue for hours to receive their monthly allowance, now worth just $8 due to the downward-spiraling foreign exchange rate as the troubled country’s economic and political crisis reaches climax. 

Yet still people like Jesus and Suarez support the leader desperately clinging to power.

Loyalty to Chavez harks back to when he swept to power in 1999 and regenerated the slum, renovating shacks, built a football pitch, set up welfare program.

Charismatic Chavez appealed to the poor because he had come from a similar humble background.

And he paid for his ‘Bolivarian socialist revolution’ from the huge revenue from the state oil company, which at that time was selling at more than $100 per barrel.

But the crash in world oil prices in 2014 robbed Venezuela of its main source of revenue and prompted the economic decline which has now reached crisis point.

Shelves in Caracas supermarkets where basic provisions are usually stocked are empty Shelves that usually stock sugar are empty or taken up by bags of salt. Meanwhile low-paid workers in the slums told MailOnline they no longer earn enough to eat

Despite the troubles faced by those living in the ghettos many there still cling to Chavez’s socialist dream and say they are backing Nicolas Maduro in the fight against President in waiting, Juan Guaidó

Jesus, 25, a father-of-two, blames foreign interference, corrupt dock workers and capitalists for the crippling food shortages that plight families across Venezuela.

He said: ‘Everyone in this area would defend the revolution with their lives. We are organizing now how to resist any attempt to overthrow the government.

‘Nicolas Maduro won the elections. He is the president of Venezuela and we will all pitch in to keep him in power.

‘It’s a terrible shame that outside forces are waging an economic war against Venezuela.

‘The USA has a history of interfering in other countries of the world.

‘We have seen what has happened in Libya. We don’t want that to happen in Venezuela.’

He added: ‘Before I was born life was very hard for the families who lives around here. My grandparents told me they were so poor they had to eat dog food.

‘But after Chavez came to power all of the houses in this street were renovated. Now there are shops and restaurants and even a football pitch,’ he added. 

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