A survey published this week by the Venezuelan polling firm Meganálisis found that the majority of Venezuelans want dictator Nicolás Maduro to leave power, but also have no trust in President Juan Guaidó to save the country from the socialism-driven humanitarian crisis it is now in.
Guaidó returned from a world tour this week that included stops throughout the United States, most prominently his guest appearance at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. The tour was of great symbolic importance because the Maduro regime banned Guaidó from leaving the country.
Maduro is currently actively governing Venezuela, though he has no constitutional power to do so. Maduro maintains control of the military and claims legitimacy through a fraudulent election held in May 2018. As Maduro’s legal term ended in January 2019, the National Assembly, the federal legislature, used its constitutional power to appoint a legitimate president, giving the title to Juan Guaidó.
While most of the Western Hemisphere and the free world generally considers Guaidó the president of Venezuela, Maduro’s stranglehold on the military has prevented him from exercising his power within his country. Guaidó has thus resorted to using diplomatic presidential powers abroad.
Meganálisis found popular distaste for both leaders.
Asked if they would like to see an end to Maduro’s regime and “chavismo,” the cult of personality around late dictator Hugo Chávez, 79.9 percent of respondents said yes. About an equal amount of people – 10.4 percent to 9.6 percent – said no and that they didn’t know, respectively.
While a less dramatic negative response, the plurality of those surveyed also said they did not trust President Guaidó.
Asked, “After the events of the past year, do you still believe, trust, and support Juan Guaidó?”, 63.8 percent of respondents said “no.”
More people said “I never believed in him” – 12.1 percent – than those who said they still believed, 10.7 percent.
Another 13.3 percent said, “I don’t know.”
These dire numbers are actually significantly better for Guaidó than what Meganálisis found in its December polling. Two months ago, 68.5 percent of people said they did not trust Guaidó anymore and slightly more people, 12.9 percent, said they never did. A smaller number of people, 10.3 percent, also said then that they still trusted the president.
The number of people who wanted an end to chavismo was also higher two months ago, actually suggesting a mild increase in hope on both sides in the past two months, not any significant chance of opinion that benefits Maduro at the expense of Guaidó or vice versa.
In November, 86.6 percent said they wanted Maduro to leave, while only 8.9 percent said no.
Much of the disappointment with Guaidó stems from the president agreeing to a series of “talks” with Maduro amid thousands-strong protests, just as it appeared Maduro might fall last year. Some also disagree with Guaidó’s politics; like Maduro, he is a socialist and was a member of the socialist Popular Will party until this year. Shortly after becoming president, he revealed a sprawling initiative to save the country he branded the “Plan País,” or “Country Plan,” which sought to save Venezuela through handing out large government subsidies and expanding nationalization of the oil industry – essentially the same proposal Hugo Chávez won election to the presidency with, but, Guaidó promised, done right.
Venezuelans also appear to have little hope in Guaidó’s world tour benefitting them in any way. The survey asked respondents if they expected “benefits for the country” from the world tour; 75.1 percent said no.
La mayoría (75.1%) de los venezolanos, no espera beneficios para el país producto de la gira de Guaidó.
Escuche análisis respectivo, por nuestro Vice presidente Rubén Chirino Leañez, en “Aquí se habla Libertad” del 11-Feb. en RCR750 y conducido por Víctor Maldonado. pic.twitter.com/8iyq1O1dGQ
— Meganalisis (@Meganalisis) February 13, 2020
Other highlights in the poll are that the plurality of those polled said they would not vote in elections for a new National Assembly – a sign of lack of faith in Venezuela’s institutions – and over 80 percent of those polled said they were not aware of any humanitarian aid offered to Venezuelans by international organizations, including the United Nations.
Infrastructure in Venezuela is also collapsing, a reality extensively reported that the poll confirmed. Asked if they have daily, reliable access to water, 82.7 percent of respondents said no. Electricity access was slightly higher – 78.5 percent of those asked said that the reliability and quality of electricity in their homes was either “terrible” or “irregular.” Notably, the vast majority of those who said they had reliable access to electricity were in Caracas and wealthy Miranda state. Of those who said they have access to electricity, 0.2 percent of them lived in 20 of 24 Venezuelan states; the other 99.8 percent lived in the capital, Miranda, Aragua, and Carabobo, all states surrounding Caracas.
Meganálisis polled 1,480 people in all of Venezuela’s 24 states between January 23 and February 7.
The disillusion with the country’s leaders follows months of intense power struggles that have had little impact on the daily lives of Venezuelans. Those struggles peaked this week as Guaidó arrived home, greeted at Maiquetía, one of the country’s last remaining functional airports, by a violent mob of socialists who proceeded to attempt to beat him and his family, throw projectiles and spill liquids on him, tear his dress shirt, and destroy cameras and other journalistic equipment. Police also swiftly arrested Guaidó’s uncle, Juan José Márquez, in the chaos created by the Maduro-organized socialist mob.
Guaidó and his family only learned of what happened to Márquez, who disappeared at the airport, on the television program Con el mazo dando (“Hitting with the Mallet”), hosted by Maduro henchman and socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello. Cabello claimed that Márquez broke the law by wearing a bulletproof vest on the flight into Venezuela and carrying a brochure about life and religion in Israel. He also claimed that Márquez possessed a flashlight full of C-4 explosives.