Venezuela's next generation of opposition plays a long game

In this Aug. 26, 2018 photo, Roberto Patino greets children at a children's center in the La Vega neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela. Patino, a rising...
In this Aug. 26, 2018 photo, a girl holds her spoon as she waits to receive a meal at a children's center in the La Vega neighborhood of Caracas, Vene...
In this Aug. 26, 2018 photo, Marialbert Barrios speaks to a group of women at an empowerment workshop, in the Catia neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela...
FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2015 file photo, Democratic Unity opposition coalition congressman Miguel Pizarro, center, greets supporters during a rally to...
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2017 file photo, opposition lawmaker Manuela Bolivar, left, enters the Venezuelan General Prosecutor's office to introduce a pe...
FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2014 file photo, opposition leader Henrique Capriles points during an interview at his office in Caracas, Venezuela. Capriles ...
FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2017 file photo, holding a national Venezuelan flag, ousted Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma waves from inside El Dorado internat...

In this Aug. 26, 2018 photo, Roberto Patino greets children at a children's center in the La Vega neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela. Patino, a rising...

In this Aug. 26, 2018 photo, a girl holds her spoon as she waits to receive a meal at a children's center in the La Vega neighborhood of Caracas, Vene...

In this Aug. 26, 2018 photo, Marialbert Barrios speaks to a group of women at an empowerment workshop, in the Catia neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela...

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2015 file photo, Democratic Unity opposition coalition congressman Miguel Pizarro, center, greets supporters during a rally to...

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2017 file photo, opposition lawmaker Manuela Bolivar, left, enters the Venezuelan General Prosecutor's office to introduce a pe...

FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2014 file photo, opposition leader Henrique Capriles points during an interview at his office in Caracas, Venezuela. Capriles ...

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2017 file photo, holding a national Venezuelan flag, ousted Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma waves from inside El Dorado internat...

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Roberto Patino, a rising star in Venezuela's unravelling opposition movement, pushes through a crowd of children clutching spoons and waiting to eat.

The 30-year-old organizes a crew that hands out hundreds of meals each day in slums throughout the capital. It's the only solid nourishment for many of the children in Caracas' La Vega neighborhood.

"We've found fertile ground in these slums," Patino said of the lunches financed by Venezuelan donors, "for the message of change and creating a new Venezuela."

As President Nicolas Maduro cracks down on opponents amid an unprecedented economic crisis, desperation has driven some critics to support violent shortcuts to removing him from power. But many opposition figures see their best hopes in capitalizing on discontent with Maduro in rough neighborhoods long considered his strongholds.