On March 5, 2014, the anniversary of the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Caracas was a deeply divided city. In neighborhoods like El 23 de Enero, a Chavista stronghold and the location of the Cuartel de Las Montañas, the leader’s final resting place, Chavez supporters gathered, decked out in red. They chanted support for their embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, and the Chavez legacy, both beloved by many of Venezuela’s poor whose lives were buoyed by Chavismo socialism.
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Thousands turned out for a military parade in honor of the anniversary, as tanks, missiles and all manner of armed forces passed through the streets in a show of government strength. “Chavez lives! The struggle continues!” echoed through the Los Proceres promenade. “Nothing will destabilize this president,” said one woman, “because his power comes from the people.” For a single, surprising moment, some booing rang out as soldiers passed by, perhaps the only brief indication of the unrest brewing all over the country, and just a few miles east of the parade.