If you’ve been following our coverage of the implosion of any semblance of democratic government in Venezuela these days you know that the situation there is beyond grim. Dictator Nicolas Maduro has disbanded the elected legislature, stocked the nation’s highest court with sycophants and unleashed gangs of armed militias on his own citizens. Dozens have been killed in the streets with thousands more being injured. People are advised to hunt rabbits and feral pets for food, and medicine is in short supply.
So how are the Venezuelan people reacting to all of this? It may seem shocking, but a recent poll finds that Maduro is still somehow hanging on to a 23% approval rating, a slight increase from last month. That may sound dismal for anyone in American politics, but considering the catastrophic state of his nation it’s actually somewhat remarkable, and the actions of the United States may be feeding into it. (Reuters)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s approval rating rose to 23 percent in September, up 6 percentage points from 17 percent in July, according to a poll by local firm Datanalisis.
The rebound followed several rounds of sanctions by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration as well as a sharp drop-off in four months of violent anti-government protests.
Nearly 52 percent of respondents opposed the Trump administration sanctions that came in response to the creation of a legislative superbody called the Constituent Assembly, which critics call the consolidation of a dictatorship.
Sure, 23% is pretty bad as I already said, but when you consider that the approval rating for our own Congress was hovering around 25% this summer (which was actually a marked increase for them as well), maybe it’s not so terrible after all. But it still makes Donald Trump, with numbers back up near the 40% mark, look absolutely beloved by comparison.
There are a couple of things to consider here. First of all, as I pointed out early this year, Maduro moved quickly to eliminate any free media in Venezuela so their only outlets are generally state approved pablum. Also, it’s been the dictator’s strategy from day one to blame the United States for all their woes, following the pattern established by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. This is a tried and true method for socialist dictators in more than one location.
Also, now that the real trouble has kicked into high gear and the United States has responded with sanctions, Maduro has been barraging the public daily with news about how we are the real threat and the common enemy they must band together against. When President Trump hinted that there might be a “military option” on the table, Maduro played that up at maximum volume, trying to build antipathy against us and generate support for himself as the savior of the revolution or whatever.
But there’s one more interesting number from the recent survey which touches on that last point. When asked about a United States “military option” to intervene in Maduro’s takeover, fifty-seven percent said they disagreed with such a plan. Seriously? You couldn’t even get 60% of the population to come down against a foreign power invading your country to take out your leader? That shows that the dissatisfaction with Maduro’s tyranny is running significantly deep around Venezuela.
Obviously we shouldn’t take that as an indicator that we need to be sending in our military. This isn’t our fight and the Venezuelan people are going to need to save themselves before we can do anything meaningful to help them. But their tyrant’s sins are building up by the day. Perhaps the military or just the citizenry at large will reach the breaking point eventually and remove Maduro by force. If that happens, we should certainly be ready to send in humanitarian aid to assist in stabilizing the nation once again.