Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock —or watching only Venezuelan TV— you already know this happened.

At the end of an event commemorating the Battle of San Félix, an angry mob started charging up to the President, hurling stuff at him and screaming “MALDITO, MALDITO!” Best yet, the whole thing was broadcast on Cadena Nacional.

The protest forced Maduro’s propaganda people to cut off the broadcast abruptly. Social media went crazy. Maduro even had to publish an awkward video talking nonsense to Cilia to show that he was alive and well.

I got those videos from three different places. Everyone seems to be talking about that in Ciudad Guayana, which doesn’t tend to take the lead in these things. It’s usually gochos who do crazy stuff that goes viral. Our political activists have been busy writing MADURO DICTADOR on the streets and burning effigies of Maikel Moreno. They’ve been struggling to grab people’s attention, though.

 

Sure, there are protests, and the city is often a mess because of that, but people protest over things like medicines and food, not over some confusing self-coup d’état.

Recent protesters have been careful to establish just how low on Maslow’s pyramid their complaints are. At one recent protest over late food deliveries, participants were  at pains to clarify that they are not guarimberos, that they’re just the pueblo arrecho.

To many here, it makes sense to stay out of politics. In 2014 the government used thugs in motorcycles to hold up protesters and steal from them.

People in San Felix face a lot of shortages, but good reasons to protest are not in short supply.

I guess all we needed was our fat dictator to show up. And he was kind enough to give us the day off, so we could go and throw eggs at him. The justification for the impromptu holiday, if I understand the garbled official account correctly, was that the glorious victory of the Battle of San Félix in 1817, had inspired Hugo Chávez to win the presidential elections in 1998.

Seriously.

San Félix has a good number of dirt poor slums, and they have seen the worst of this crisis. Up until the beginning of march, 8 kids had starved to death there. Eight. The toll does not even include diphteria and malaria. With safe drinking water unavailable, it’s now routine for kids to get scabies and diarrhea. People in San Felix face a lot of shortages, but good reasons to protest are not in short supply.

So far, there are reports of eight detainees following yesterday’s protest, three of them underage. I’m concerned about them. Remember the people who got put through judicial hell for booing Diosdado’s wife?

I hope the opposition takes this chance, and this incident inspires protests all around the country, because the kids who were detained (the oldest one is 20 years old) might have to go through hell, too, just for doing the most justified thing ever: shouting “maldito” at Nicolás Maduro.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.