The latest public opinion poll conducted by Datanalisis and Hinterlaces, conducted during the month of August, shows that 83.1% of respondents have a negative opinion of the country’s current situation.
Most worrying for Maduro is the fact that 40.6% of those polled believe he is personally responsible for crises affecting the country, in contrast to the 12% who blame his ministers. When compared to a survey conducted by Hinterlaces on Maduro’s popularity back in January, August’s results show 18% decline in popular support for the country’s leader since the start of the year.
The director of Datanalisis, Luis Vicente Leon, weighed in on what Maduro has been up to this year:
Because he’s not a solid leader and because he doesn’t have an opposition willing to face him, the first thing Maduro did was negotiate internally [within the PSUV]. He came out of the PSUV congress strengthened: he was named president [of the PSUV], he got rid of [Jorge] Giordani, he restructured the cabinet with people he trusts and he has the backing of the UBCh [Unidades de Batalla Bolivar-Chavez, a paramilitary organization]. He survived the political crisis. While this doesn’t reflect his popularity outside of the party, he does have an impact within the PSUV and his government in terms of being able to minimize threats.
Leon also said that he believes that the PSUV is due to loosen its grip on the Venezuelan economy sooner or later. He explained that he believes that Maduro is trying to delay any move in that direction for as long as possible, out of fear that PSUV radicals will accuse him of being a neo-liberal:
Without saying it, without announcing it, and not as part of a program, but [economic reforms] are coming.
Mass Arrests Worry Lawyer
Jose Vicente Haro, the lawyer of some of the people detained this past Friday during protests in Caracas, spoke on the mass arrests that took place in the city and in Barquisimeto on that day. Haro said:
The number of people arrested raises concern, as does the fact that people who weren’t even protesting were arrested, as was the case in Caracas when someone leaving their office building was detained.
Earlier this year, during a wave of national protests, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented a common practice on behalf of security forces: arresting people for merely being near protests. The tactic is meant to care people away from demonstrations.
The 49 people arrested in Friday’s demonstration in Barquisimeto are being held incommunicado. Manuel Virguez, a civil rights lawyer working the case, said that neither lawyers nor family have been able to establish contact with any of the 49 citizens, who have now been in detention for two days.