Maduro more powerful than ever as Venezuela collapses

The so-called Esquinas de Ideas (Corners of Ideas), where opponents used to tear into the country’s leader, are mostly gone. So are the fiery speeches of dissent in the National Assembly.

It appears that political and civic opposition has completely retreated from the public spaces all around Venezuela.

In this vacuum, Maduro’s allies talk aggressively about the radical social changes they plan to implement while also issuing dark threats against their opponents. These Chavistas—what Maduro supporters call themselves—regained absolute control of the National Assembly following the Dec. 6 elections, which were boycotted by the opposition and not recognized as legitimate by most Western countries, including the U.S. The opposition, calling the election fraudulent, effectively lost the last democratic institution in the country.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó—once deliriously popular—has vowed to fight on, even if it would mean getting together with his fellow opposition lawmakers in parks, gymnasiums or backyards. However, many have gone underground and Guaidó is now in danger of becoming irrelevant.