A week ago residents of the poorer barrios of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, woke up to find soldiers everywhere. Dressed in black helmets, military fatigues, and bulletproof jackets, a fleet of soldiers on 400 motorcycles flew through narrow, crumbling, streets while being supported by trucks and two helicopters. They set up street checkpoints and positioned themselves on rooftops to monitor the neighborhoods, while officers scoured alleys and houses holding heavy weaponry.

The military deployment took place in the midst of Venezuela’s massive economic crisis triggered by the fall of oil prices and characterized by a shrinking economy and hyperinflation. Blackouts are now constant, in many areas water is severely rationed, and public-sector employees work just two days a week in an effort to save energy. READ MORE