Highland Venezuelan town blitzed by looting and protests

Fri May 19, 2017 11:13pm GMT
 

By Andrew Cawthorne

LOS TEQUES, Venezuela (Reuters) - Like many Portuguese immigrants to Venezuela after World War Two, Manuel Fernandes spent a lifetime building a small business: his bread and cake shop in a highland town.

It took just one night for it to fall apart.

The first he knew of the destruction of his beloved "Bread Mansion" store on a main avenue of Los Teques was when looters triggered the alarm, resulting in a warning call to his cellphone at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Fernandes was stuck at home due to barricades and protests that have become common in seven weeks of anti-government unrest in Venezuela. So he was forced to watch the disaster unfold via live security camera images.

"There were hundreds of people. They smashed the glass counters, the fridges. They took everything - ham, cheese, milk, cornflakes, equipment," the 65-year-old said, as workmen secured the shop on Friday with thick metal plates.

"I've dedicated everything to this. My family depends on it," said the distraught businessman, on a street where most neighbouring stores were also ransacked in a frenzy of looting in Los Teques this week.

Unrest and protests against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government since early April have caused at least 46 deaths plus hundreds of injuries and arrests.

They have also sparked widespread nighttime looting.   Continued...

Local residents cross a barricade following days of protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the city of Los Teques, near Caracas, Venezuela, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
 
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