SAN JUAN, TRINIDAD, JULY 31 -- In this scruffy suburb of the capital, the scrambled ethnic puzzle of Trinidad and Tobago is on parade.

Rastafarians in dreadlocks, Moslems in skullcaps, Hindus and Catholics all mingle at the market, picking out bunches of bananas, speaking their lilting English and railing against the government.

A visitor might expect most Trinidadians to reserve their anger for the radical black Moslem group that threw this country into chaos Friday when it stormed government buildings and took more than 40 hostages, including Prime Minister Arthur Robinson.

But in San Juan, there is plenty of anger to go around -- for Yasin Abu Bakr, the Moslem group's leader, certainly, but also for Robinson's government and its economic policies. To many, Abu Bakr's audacious putsch has made him into a kind of local Robin Hood.

As one woman, a civil servant, said of the prime minister: "Robby had it coming."

In interviews, many complained about food shortages and worried that supplies of rice, cooking oil, flour and sugar may become even more scarce in the coming days as a result of widespread looting.

They blamed Abu Bakr for their immediate problems, and acknowledged that his armed band of militants, estimated to number perhaps 250 to 500, was hardly a mainstream political group.

However, they described rising frustration with Robinson's policies, including a 10 percent salary cut, a freeze in cost-of-living raises for government workers and a 15 percent value-added-tax (VAT) for all purchases.

Several noted that despite the nation's long economic decline, touched off in 1985 by falling oil prices, Robinson's government was proposing to erect a statue of a recently deceased civil servant at a cost of about $120,000.

"I'm not in favor of what Abu Bakr did," said a 72-year-old retired armed forces officer. "But the whole country's suffering because of what the government's doing."

A middle-aged woman who was scouring the neighborhood markets to feed her family said: "We are suffering. There's nothing to buy." She added: "Most of the people are glad what's been done to Robby and the cabinet. He disappointed us. He took too much. He cheated us with the VAT."

Abu Bakr, said a tall man with dreadlocks, "did what was necessary -- we needed a change. What he done is genuine; he did it with love for the people. But we also know what he done was against the law."

Said Ruthven Charles, 29, who said he dealt "a little weed" to make ends meet: "He take the right stand."

But another man who had just seen the rows of gutted stores and ruined shops, was shaking his head. "I think this is a bloody disgrace," said Fred Roberts, 43, a Trinidadian who lives in Canada but was visiting friends here.

"This guy Abu Bakr says he wants to turn the place around, but what has he done? He's {messed} the country up in two days and put thousands out of work."