PANIC-BUYING and empty supermarket shelves were prevalent in two major cities in Venezuela in the days leading up to President Hugo Chavez's death on Tuesday.
A reliable source, who asked not to be named because of her close ties with Venezuela's opposition, said as news continued of Chavez's worsening health, many Venezuelans went into panic-buying mode, stocking up on bread and other food items.
Spanish instructor Ruth Albornoz, who has lived in Trinidad for 11 years, confirmed this. She said her mother, who lives in Venezuela's second city, Valencia, spoke of a frenzy at supermarkets and of looting in both capital city Caracas and Valencia in the hours following the announcement of Chavez's death.
Despite the calm that has settled over the country, there is now an atmosphere of uncertainty and many Venezuelans are afraid of what may lie ahead, said Albornoz.
According to the constitution, Venezuela must hold elections within 30 days to elect a new president.
But Albornoz said the present government has shown disregard for the constitution.
According to the country's constitution, president of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello is the man to assume presidential powers until a new president is sworn in, but Vice-President Nicolas Maduro is said to have been "hand-picked" by Chavez to be his successor.
News reports said Cabello was not at the podium when Maduro announced Chavez's death.
Albornoz said this non-adherence to the constitution, as well as the military's allegiance to Chavez, has many on edge.
"We are asking all nations to pray for us right now. If they adhere to the constitution and hold elections, then everything will be fine. But if not, then I don't know what will happen in Venezuela. If they hold elections and the people decide to continue with this government, then the rest of us have to accept it. But if the opposition wins, will Chavez supporters and the military that has pledged allegiance to Chavez... will they accept it? That is where we may have a big problem," she said.
"I cannot be happy over someone's death. It is not proper and I'm a Catholic. I am happy that he is at peace and that he is no longer struggling with an illness. But the feelings that I have now are not the same as Chavez supporters. I feel that now there are more opportunities for Venezuela. And now we have a chance to choose a different path for our country.
"Chavez had a lot of charisma, no one can take that away from him. I believe he will be immortalised. He was very loved, but also very hated. He lacked respect for others. There are political prisoners in Venezuela who had cancer and died... when the Venezuelan farmer (Franklin Brito) who was on a hunger strike died, Chavez felt nothing for them."
The most pressing issue that needed to be addressed immediately, she insisted, was the divisiveness and hate between Chavistas (government supporters) and the opposition that was currently gripping her country.
Added the anonymous source: "I have been very attached to my country's politics. As a person who has always been involved in the history of my country, I supported Chavez when he first came into power because he did a lot for the people and for the history of Venezuela, but now there is a lot of divisiveness in my country and I'm hurting.
"Even my sister, who is a Chavista, wouldn't answer my calls because she thinks that I'm going to say something bad about Chavez. This is a time in which we have to unite because we have a lot to go through now."