From his palace in Caracas, President Nicolás Maduro projects an image of strength and his grip on power appears secure. Residents have a regular supply of electricity and gasoline. Shops are bursting with imported goods. But beyond the city, this facade of order quickly melts away. In order to preserve the quality of life of his most important backers, the country’s political and military elites, his administration has poured the country’s dwindling resources into Caracas and forsaken large swaths of Venezuela.
“Venezuela is broken as a state, as a country,” said Dimitris Pantoulas, a political analyst in Caracas. “The few available resources are invested in the capital to protect the seat of power, creating a ministate amid the collapse.” Across much of the country, basic government functions like policing, road maintenance, health care and public utilities have been abandoned.