Venezuelan opposition faces waning enthusiasm – Reuters

His disappointment is widely shared in Venezuela, where the economy is dismal and many people are fed up with the government and the groups that oppose it.

“I don’t believe in any side, neither the opponents nor the ruling party,” said the mother of two. ” Why? Because they promise and promise and don’t deliver. They go up there, “We’re going to get rid of this infamous government”, just talk. There are many people here who don’t leave their homes (to attend the rally) – only a few do – because they don’t believe in any of this anymore.

The broad unease follows a brief outburst of enthusiasm generated by a few notable local election victories and is undermining opposition efforts to reconnect with supporters after a pandemic-forced hiatus of large marches and rallies.

Guaidó, then the leader of Congress, declared himself Venezuela’s legitimate leader in 2019, saying Maduro’s re-election had been illegitimate. He drew huge crowds of supporters to the streets while gaining wide international recognition from the United States, Canada and many European countries.

But much of the momentum appears to have evaporated.

Guaidó’s popularity fell from around 60% three years ago to less than 15% in February, according to Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis.

That’s because many believe he has no viable way to oust Maduro, who has been in power since 2013, said David Smilde, senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America and professor at the Tulane University.

“Unless it’s someone who is really in love with Guaidó or somehow close to the opposition movement, it’s pretty hard to find people who think he’s the guy” , Smilde said.

“Most everyone thinks, ‘Well, that didn’t lead to anything; Nothing has changed.’ And they’re going to stay passive until they see some kind of new, really different offer.

Government crackdowns have also made many people reluctant to get involved.

Domestically, some key opposition leaders – and some vocal citizens – have been imprisoned or fled abroad. The government ousted the opposition and most independent media. Many fear that expressing their opposition will jeopardize their access to subsidized goods distributed by the government.

Internationally, Guaidó’s inability to capitalize on his initial surge in popularity dampened his appeal. Several of the countries that once recognized Guaidó’s parallel government no longer do so.

A much smaller crowd showed up last month on a narrow, dead-end street in a hillside neighborhood to hear Guaidó, who was still just 38. Some had been transported by bus and wore the orange or blue t-shirts of the political parties of his movement. Others stood outside their homes to listen and a few approached to shake his hand.

But for many, the daily routine continued. A man delivered water at home, another went to work. Mayora, 44, kept her shop open. A client struggled with the math trying to figure out the best way to stretch $5.

“People at the moment have become very selective, if you will, about the things they care about and the things they put energy and effort into,” said Benigno Alarcon, director of the Center for Studies. Politics and Government from Andres Bello Catholic University.

“When you tell people, ‘Well, we’re going to protest,’ people are going to say to you, ‘Well, exactly what and what is this going to be used for? And what will this protest lead to? And why will this one work if the other didn’t? So there are very, very low expectations” for change.

Only around 42% of registered voters took part in November’s regional elections and Alarcon said many people did not believe their vote would be respected.

The socialist government won most of the races, but it suffered a notable setback in the northwest state of Barinas, where the family of the ruling movement’s founder, the late President Hugo Chavez, ruled for more than 20 years. The opposition candidate was retroactively disqualified while leading the vote count. Electoral authorities then scheduled a recast for January – and disqualified two other opposition candidates. Yet the opposition ended up winning again, shocking the ruling party.

Government employee William Gomez was among the crowds who showed up for Guaidó in 2019, but says he won’t do so again.

“I don’t believe in anyone anymore,” Gomez, 60, said shortly after Guaidó finished his speech. “What are we going to do if these gentlemen don’t play good politics?” Another leader who is truly dedicated to the people must be born.

Guaido’s movement is trying to rekindle enthusiasm while mobilizing support for early and fair presidential elections. It gathered some 700 of its local leaders in Caracas last month to prepare them to push for elections and other demands.

At the Maiqetia rally, party activists like Yoliana Salazar said they were trying to win back skeptics like Gomez.

“It’s a little painstaking job, a little bit at a time,” she said, and echoed Guaidó’s claims of progress, such as an International Criminal Court investigation into possible crimes against humanity committed against protesters in 2017.

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Venezuelan opposition faces waning enthusiasm – Reuters