Venezuelans set fire to dummies of Maduro, opposition in Easter rite

Venezuelans set fire to dummies of Maduro, opposition in Easter rite
Venezuelans set fire to dummies of Maduro, opposition in Easter rite

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Venezuelans burned dummies representing President Nicolas Maduro or opposition presidential hopefuls — depending on their politics — as they honoured an Easter Sunday tradition. — AFP pic

CARACAS, April 1 — Venezuelans burned dummies representing President Nicolas Maduro or opposition presidential hopefuls — depending on their politics — as they honoured an Easter Sunday tradition.

It used to be Judas Iscariot — the apostle who according to Christian belief betrayed Jesus Christ — that was burned in effigy out in the streets on this holy day.

But over time Venezuelans started burning contemporary figures they hate. This year, everyone’s mind was on presidential elections scheduled for July 28.

In neighbourhoods that back the opposition, people torched dummies representing Maduro, the socialist seeking a third six-year term who has overseen the collapse of Venezuela’s oil-based economy and grown increasingly authoritarian.

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But in areas of Caracas that back the president, people burned likenesses of popular opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, who wants to run for president but has been barred by courts loyal to Maduro.

In the working class Candelaria neighbourhood, a dummy was burned that had a human size body and a head with two photos — one of Maduro and the other of Manuel Rosales, a veteran politician who filed as an opposition candidate at the last minute and is seen as palatable to the government.

The dummy’s hands hold symbols of the national election commission and congress, which the opposition accuses of planning to rig the election.

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On the body of the dummy is a drawing of a scorpion — the symbol used by Venezuela’s opposition to describe candidates like Rosales, who they say only pay lip service to fighting Maduro but actually want to help him by dividing the anti-government vote.

As the dummy, seated in a chair, is doused with gasoline and set aflame, a protester named Carlos Julio Rojas explains why he dislikes Rosales.

“He made a gangster pact with the dictatorship,” he claims of Rosales. “Here there are people suffering without running water or electricity, living on starvation wages.”

In Valle, another working class area of Caracas, the atmosphere was different: the Judas dummies that burned represented Machado and even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They were first put on trial by two actors, one dressed as a clown and the other as a devil.

The clown said Machado is an old-time bourgeois lady who supports US economic sanctions aimed at forcing Maduro out of office.

“Traitor,” the clown calls her. “I will send her to hell.”

Machado, 56, said in a video posted Sunday on X that she or the woman she wants to stand in for her, Corina Yoris, might still end up on the ballot.

Yoris was unable to access the online registration portal during the recent filing period — with Machado’s coalition alleging deliberate interference — so another candidate was “provisionally” signed up.

Machado said the opposition has until 10 days before the election to switch their candidate.

“Venezuelan laws are very clear,” she said. — AFP

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