Four days before Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido launched a military uprising in a bid to oust President Nicolas Maduro, he told supporters at a rally outside the capital, Caracas: “In the next few days, we’ll decide our destiny.”
The 35-year-old, who had risen to national prominence three months before, finished his speech with his usual rallying cry to Venezuelans desperate for the end of 20 years of Socialist rule: “We’re on track!”
Yet after the April 30 insurrection swiftly unraveled, with troops remaining in their barracks and key government officials refusing to change sides, many Venezuelans aren’t so sure, Reuters reports.
Interviews with more than two dozen people across Venezuela – as well as fresh polling data – suggest that many people have grown frustrated by the slow pace of change amid the hardships of daily life. Several said they were losing hope that Guaido could dislodge Maduro.
“We’re on track but it’s the wrong track,” said Rafael Narvaez, a taxi driver in the western coastal city of Punto Fijo.
Narvaez said he had been full of hope on April 30 when he saw Guaido appear with military officers in a video posted on Twitter saying it was time to rise up against Maduro.
“I thought that finally the moment had come to recover our country,” Narvaez, 43, said. “Now I’m disappointed.”
When Guaido, the speaker of the National Assembly, proclaimed a rival presidency in January in a bold challenge to Maduro, he injected new hope into Venezuela’s fragmented opposition. With most Western nations saying Maduro’s reelection last year was rigged, Guaido cited the constitution to announce an interim presidency until fresh elections could be held.
Washington backed him and imposed tough new sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, with the aim of forcing Maduro and his allies from power, Reuters noted.
Maduro, who took office in 2013 following the death of his political mentor, Hugo Chavez, has overseen an economic collapse that has left swaths of the once-wealthy country without reliable access to power, water, food and medicines. More than 4 million Venezuelans have emigrated and the Organization of American States warned this week that figure could double by the end of next year.
Guaido has gained control of some Venezuelan assets in the United States, appointed diplomats overseas and unveiled an economic plan to rebuild Venezuela. But his promises of amnesty have failed to sway the armed forces, which remain loyal to Maduro.
The opposition’s momentum has slowed since the April 30 uprising. Attendance at Guaido’s public rallies has dropped and the opposition has held no major protests since then. A march called for Friday will be a litmus test for Guaido’s support.
Maduro, who retains the loyalty of key allies Russia and China, has branded Guaido a U.S. puppet, Reuters adds.
With a swift removal of Maduro not in sight, the opposition says it is knuckling down for a more protracted campaign and seeking to build a grassroots organization to press for elections without Maduro.