Over the last few weeks, the upper middle class neighborhood surrounding Altamira Plaza in eastern Caracas, Venezuela has been transformed into what some residents call a war zone. Residential areas, parking lots, and local businesses have all been taken over during clashes between student protesters, federal forces, and pro-government militias.
The neighborhood has become an epicenter of students calling for President Nicolas Maduro to resign. The protesters cite a litany of problems, including record inflation, soaring crime, and shortages of basic goods that the country has faced during his administration. And yet the movement has only recently began to make inroads with the wider population outside of the student ranks and its upper middle class base.
Across the country, cities like Maracay and Valencia have started to join the movement, which is now spreading beyond the capital. This week, San Cristobal in the Western state Tachira has emerged as the new opposition stronghold.