An elegant 1940s square in an affluent area of the Venezuelan capital has become a charred battleground at the heart of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
The protesters have made the Plaza Altamira square their base of operations, with a militant hard core battling security forces most evenings. The clashes are part of wider unrest that has claimed 22 lives all over Venezuela.
During hours of street fights every night the demonstrators pelt security lines with stones, fireworks and petrol bombs, to try to reach a nearby highway to block rush-hour traffic in a favored tactic of Venezuelan protests.
Tactics have developed over the days, with students now wearing gas-masks made out of large plastic water-bottles, and using iron sheets as shields to advance like the legendary legionaries of ancient Rome.
Heavily armed National Guard troops and police respond with volleys of teargas, water-cannons “It’s a battlefield, no one can get outside. I don’t think it’s going to stop soon,” said 71-year-old Maria Cristina Suarez who has a bird’s eye view of the worst fighting from her 13th-floor apartment on an avenue leading off the plaza.