Americas, Venezuela, Human Rights, Opinion

FAQ from a Foreigner: Does Venezuela Still Support Maduro?

There are several topics and questions that come to the table when talking about Venezuela. Answering all of them would take hundreds of pages or hours of video. There are some, however, that have a higher frequency in conversations. So, here you have it, the questions we are asked the most once we make some friends abroad and the ice is broken between us.

Why do you still support Maduro?

We don’t, and I don’t know. This is the short answer, but the truth is more complicated than that. The thing is that there are still a few people in Venezuela that support the government. They might be around 3 million people strong according to the last numbers we received from reliable sources (not the government of course). Considering we are around 30 million inhabitants in Venezuela, they are a minority now.

How they manage to support it is quite a mystery. I can only think of two reasons:

  1. they somehow benefit from the government, that is to say, they receive money, got a house or have an important job there
  2. they are brainwashed, they truly and genuinely believe the government’s side of the story. Whatever event in their lives that proves them wrong has a logical government-based explanation, and they chose to believe it

How come he is still in power?

The government created the perfect system during the last 17 years to not be kicked out of the power. They were slowly taking more power and institutions and placing family and friends in the most important positions so that when the people want to be against them, all the legal ways to do it are blocked.

Maduro‘s term, for example, is due next year. He should stop being the president with direct general elections. They have, however, created the Constituent National Assembly to rewrite the constitution. Rewriting the Constitution can take them up to two years, and until that day we cannot have elections because they haven’t written what kind of electoral process we have to use in Venezuela now.

The Constituent Assembly was elected and sworn using fraudulent electoral results, but nothing happened because the General Attorney was fired and the Supreme Court is composed of pro-government judges. They created the perfect system, so the people cannot touch them. Maybe this is why Venezuelans turn so much to international organizations for support.

Is it true what we see in the news about Venezuela?

Yes, but on different levels. For instance, public hospitals don’t have medicine most of the times, but private hospitals try to import some supplies, in many occasions patients have to look for supplies themselves and then go to the medical center to find the specialist.

Are people really standing in long queues for food?

Yes, the government has created so many controls and restrictions for private businesses that they stopped production, left the Venezuela or closed. Venezuela produces only 30% of the food that is consumed in the country while the rest is imported. These two elements combined produce scarcity of low-priced national products which resulted in long queues a few items. Some supermarkets are filled with imported products that are way too expensive for the common Venezuelan with a minimum salary, so people prefer to make long queues and wait for hours to buy a few items at a lower price.

Why do you choose my country as a destination?

This question was from a Panamanian. Right now, more than 40 thousand Venezuelans are living in Panama, trying to get a permanent card and a job. Panama just announced that Venezuelans will need a visa to enter the country from now on and this measure has given them a lot to talk about.

But going back to the question, Venezuelans chose countries according to many factors:

  1. job opportunities
  2. low crime rate
  3. having family there already
  4. economic stability

Most of the times we try to stay closer to home and speak the same language. Panama was visited by many Venezuelans in the past that were looking for products to be sold later, resulting in good business for Panama. Things are different now; people are going abroad to work and send money to their families in Venezuela, which is not good for their economy. Many Panamanians say that this whole visa scandal is just a way to cover up some other problems but, despite the immigration limitations that are being implemented right now, Panama is still a desirable destination for many Venezuelans.

Why hasn’t the military thrown a coup d’état?

There are two reasons many Venezuelans consider when thinking about this question. The first one refers to having higher salaries and receiving plenty of benefits from the government; the second one is related to drugs. Some people say that many military men are involved in big deals related to drug trafficking and therefore have their hands tied and their mouths shut.

There have been some coup d’etat attempts in Venezuela, but they haven’t been effective. They have been caught and imprisoned, and the government has said they were not “real military”, that they were civilians dressed like the military, sent by the US and blah, blah. They have a plethora of excuses and versions of the events.

These are just some of the questions. And the answers I have here are a summary of collective opinions and comments from family and friends. I suppose I need to ask some pro-government Venezuelan the same questions to be blown away by their answers. I don’t know if I can take it. For them, the dissidence is just a bunch of right-wing terrorists that are willing to sell their mother for a few dollars. Welcome to Venezuela.

About Isabel Matos

Isabel is a Venezuelan translator that struggles to find a voice and to prosper in today’s political turmoil and tension. She is also an undergraduate English teacher and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English as a Foreign Language. Translator, teacher and always student, she is interested in how language shapes reality and how women and men negotiate power through discourse.

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