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Venezuelans offer different perspectives on the troubles in their country


A woman wearing earrings designed with an image of the late President Hugo Chavez, smiles during a pro-government rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Venezuelans on both sides of the nation's political divide took to the streets on Saturday after nearly two weeks of mass protests that have Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro scrambling to reassert his leadership. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) (The Associated Press)

Venezuela is deeply divided between supporters of the government of President Nicolas Maduro and members of the opposition. Here is a sampling of what people on both sides of the political chasm were saying on Saturday:


"The situation in the country is serious. It's very bad. If in reality everyone went out in the streets to get rid of this government and they would really go, then we would do it. We're tired of so much violence, of so much crime. I was robbed a couple of weeks ago and they almost killed me, and everything just goes on as normal. I work in a supermarket and there's no food. It can't go on like this," said Blanca Leon, a 42-year-old administrative employee of a supermarket who was working during Saturday demonstrations.


"We are a government of peace. We are a government that wants the best for poor people. There is crime, but there is crime everywhere. There are shortages but if you go to the store, there is food," said Gloria Cera, 40-year-old mother of 2 taking part in a pro-Maduro march.


"We're out in the streets because we don't want a crisis like Syria. The government is throwing our political leaders in jail and it's hard to find food. The store shelves are empty. We are on the brink," said Marisol Gonzalez, a 60-year-old history professor at an opposition rally in Caracas.


"Venezuela now is a country where there is a great deal of opportunity for development for all social classes — the working class, the middle class, the upper class. There is no restriction on any citizen who wants to travel, to study. It wasn't always this way," said Edgar Perdomo, 55-year-old security agency supervisor and a supporter of President Nicolas Maduro, who was chatting with a friend in a park near a pro-government rally.


"The situation is looking pretty difficult. It's complicated because on one side and the other there are some good points. All this is carrying us toward a conflict with no way out ... What should happen is an understanding between both sides to seek a democratic way out of this because we can't continue in this crisis," said Maximiliano Gallego, a 70-year-old art shop owner.