TODAY VENEZUELA – There are no bursts of colour as fireworks pop high above the Bulevar de Sabana Grande. Only thin wisps of smoke in the azure sky mark the precise time, two years ago, that Hugo Chavez died suddenly, from cancer.
It is 4:25 p.m., and Venezuelans are taking stock of an economy in meltdown.
“I don’t feel good at all,” one man grouses.
“It’s terrible. This is total chaos,” a student adds.
Even once-ardent supporters of the charismatic leader are growing restive with life under his hand-picked successor, President Nicolas Maduro.
For years, Venezuela was a nation on the rise – a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries more than 50 years ago. Decades later, Mr. Chavez was able to lavish oil riches on the poorest residents, providing everything from hospital clinics to hefty food subsidies and free gasoline.