When Ariles López takes a break from her fruit stall and begins to describe her life in Venezuela, there is a moment when she chokes up and begins to cry. That will not come as a surprise, when you hear her story. López, who’s 47, is among those Venezuelans who say they will vote in Sunday’s election, despite a widely held view that it’s a fraudulent exercise calculated to keep President Nicolás Maduro in power. She is desperate for change, after a year of personal hardship that underscores the scale of the multilayered catastrophe that is engulfing Venezuela: hyperinflation, widespread hunger, deaths from preventable diseases, and a wave of deadly crime.
López’s husband was killed last July at a gas station near the fruit and vegetable market in east Caracas where he once worked — and where she now runs their stall singlehandedly, selling mangos and plums.
She says he was accosted by two men trying to steal his cellphone. “I don’t know if he struggled with them, but they shot him in the chest, and took his phone,” she says. “He lasted five days in hospital, and then died.”