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Latin America

'Mentally I am stronger than I look,' says the 'Wonder Woman' of Venezuela's street protests

Caterina Ciarcelluti tells Univision she was surprised when her now iconic image drew attention as she has been on the streets protesting daily for the last month. But she is happy if it has helped protesters gain visibility. "Venezuelans are warriors," she says.
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4 May 2017 – 4:37 PM EDT

UPDATED In photos: The "warrior" women on the front lines in Venezuela's street protests

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Venezuelan anti-government activists call her 'Mujer Maravilla,' Spanish for Wonder Woman.

Recent photos of Caracas fitness instructor Caterina Ciarcelluti, 44, in a colorful motorcycle helmet throwing a stone at police during a recent protest against the government of Nicolás Maduro went viral on social media.

"Mentally I am stronger than I look physically," she told Univision.

The resemblance to Marvel's superheroine is evident in her tensed, athletic body, captured in the act of throwing a stone. But mental strength, she says, is what has kept her and thousands of Venezuelans on the streets for 30 days.

"I've been protesting since day one, so when they sent me this photo it was a surprise, but I'm glad if it has a positive outcome, so they know about us and also about the women who are leading along with the men," she explains.

In the images seen every day of protests in cities across the country many women can be seen on the front lines.

Ciarcelluti gets around Caracas on her motorcycle, wearing a helmet and a Venezuelan flag. "We have no weapons, they have weapons, they have the power," she says, referring to the harsh repression of protesters by state security forces.


The photo was taken on Monday by AFP photographer Juan Barreto in the streets of Caracas during month-old protests sparked by a ruling by the nation's Supreme Court to revoke the powers of the National Assembly, Venezuela's legislature.

The protesters are also motivated by rampant inflation, scarcity of food and basic medicines, and the repressive tactics of the security forces. On Wednesday a young man died in the protests, two others were badly burned and another was run over by an armored government vehicle.

She says the protesters organize daily among themselves. "Today we are going to the university to give the kids masks, face cloths for protection," says Ciarcelluti. "I have a lot of faith that we are going to achieve what we want, I am very positive, I don't get down," she adds.

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