A new poll has found that after emerging victorious in Venezuela's recent US-backed failed coup attempt led by opposition leader Juan Gaido, socialist leader Nicolas Maduro commands a popular majority of Venezuelans' recognition as the legal head of the country, even after over 50 countries rejected his January reelection as invalid.
The five-month political stalemate appears to be "subtly helping" Maduro, according to a Miami Herald report of a new Datincorp poll conducted over the weekend, even after dozens of countries have followed America's lead in recognizing only Guaido as the "interim present". The poll found that a majority 41% of Venezuelans consider Maduro the country’s “constitutional president” against 36% who recognize Guaido.
These numbers were significantly up from February, when 49% at the time said Guaido was the true leader, versus 34% that backed Maduro. The latest poll further suggests that though the country is still deeply divided, with a cash-poor economy and smashed infrastructure - including electricity rationing and fuel shortages to boot - the aggressive US rhetoric and pressures demanding Maduro relinquish power has only served to hurt the opposition's domestic standing.
It should be no secret that citizens would react negatively to a foreign power attempting to control political outcomes in their country no matter how bad or dire the situation had become.
However, the poll still found that Maduro is deeply unpopular even if the legal status of his leadership is not in question for most Venezuelans. Per the Miami Herald report:
Even so, the poll also makes clear that Maduro, 57, remains deeply unpopular in a country seized by hyperinflation, electricity rationing and fuel shortages.
The study found that 40 percent of the population considers itself in the “opposition” versus 19 percent who say they are government supporters or “Chavistas,” the ruling party that follows ideology implemented by the late President Hugo Chávez. Thirty-eight percent say they are “non-aligned.”
If presidential elections were held now, Guaidó would win with 33 percent of the vote versus Maduro’s 16 percent. Opposition stalwarts Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado would win 11 percent and 4 percent, respectively. But a full 18 percent said they wouldn’t vote for any of the likely candidates.
Also fascinating is that the poll found that a huge majority considers US sanctions on the country to be hurting ordinary Venezuelans instead of doing anything to help their political future (at 68%) as Washington claims.
Meanwhile, Colombian President Ivan Duque made some interesting comments this week concerning Maduro's near term fate, claiming the Venezuelan leader "no longer feels safe" and that he's looking for a swift exit from the country and from political life.
Duque made the statement to The Times, saying of Maduro's family and inner circle: "They no longer have the idea that they will have safe haven somewhere else in the world." He further explained that "Such a pressure, Maduro no longer feels safe. He doesn’t have any calm at all because he knows his moment will come and the military will fully break and fully call on him to step out."
But it remains that against many predictions of the US media and pundits, Maduro has weathered immense pressures both inside and especially being exerted on Caracas from outside the country.