5

To me Nicolás Maduro seems to be a very poor leader.

However, there's a lot of opposition to US intervention in Venezuela from groups like Code Pink,, Embassy Civilian Protection Collective, The Grayzone, etc. I have a lot of respect for Code Pink but cannot understand why they are supporting Maduro or why their message is so contrary to the mainstream media.

Does anyone know if the people of Venezuela support Maduro or Guaido?

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    Can you give us a little more input? I think few know "code pink" for example. Also I'm not sure if I understand your second sentence correctly: what does "action" mean here? – miep May 6 at 10:12
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    @miep hope above additions clarify – SeanJ May 6 at 11:40
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    Code Pink seems to be opposing specific actions taken by the US that they feel are not legal, rather than supporting either side in Venezuela. Are you sure their actions are relevant to your question? – IllusiveBrian May 6 at 11:53
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    The title question is subtly different from the body. I can establish that Maduro is highly unpopular; that does not imply that Guaido is inversely popular. – Obie 2.0 May 6 at 13:31
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    @armatita - I don't know if they support Maduro as such, but I've seen some evidence that suggests they may not oppose him. In this article written by one the members, they note "We have various opinions about the Maduro government —some pro, some neutral, some skeptical." It's hard to judge from just that, but I don't think "skeptical" indicates opposition. Also, this indicates that they do have some Maduro supporters ("some pro"). – Obie 2.0 May 9 at 13:04
7

Yes, probably

First, we need to establish an important distinction. Juan Guaido's popularity and Maduro's popularity do not sum to 100%. It's possible for Maduro to be highly unpopular (as he is; see below) and for Guaido to be equally unpopular (he isn't, but it's theoretically possible). It would even be possible for some people to like both Maduro and Guaido, though a bit unlikely.

That said, various polls show levels of support for Guaido above 50%:

  • Apparently, a February 2019 poll by Datanalisis found that Guaido had an approval rating of 61%, with Maduro at 14%. This suggests that while Guaido has a high approval rating, about 20% of those polled dislike both Maduro and Guaido. Many news sources mention this poll, but I am having trouble finding the original; during a radio interview, unfortunately in Spanish and without a transcript, Jose Yepez, a senior employee at Datanalisis, said 63%, so I suspect that the tweet got the number slightly wrong and the subsequent news articles mostly followed it. It's not hard to find examples of this latter group: for instance, the Venezuelan socialist group Mar Socialista put out a statement condemning both of them a few months ago.
  • In the same interview mentioned previously, Yepez says that when people are asked whom they would vote for in a hypothetical election, Guaido would receive 37%, Maduro 11%, and other opposition politicians less. This suggests that not only is Guaido likely popular, but he may be more popular than other opposition figures.

  • A poll by Hercon asked people "Right now, what phrase best describes the current political situation in the country at this moment in history?" Among respondents, 87% chose "Maduro usurper/Guaido interim president", whereas 13% chose "Guaido usurper/Maduro constitutional president." Although this poll did not distinguish support for Maduro and opposition to Guaido, the fact that over 80% were willing to select an option with him as interim president (as opposed to selecting neither) does suggest high popularity.

  • A poll by Meganalisis asked subjects "As a citizen, after the 23rd of January, whom do you recognize today as the legitimate president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro or Juan Guaido?" 83.7% chose Guaido, 4.8% chose Maduro, and 11.4% chose "don't know." The level of support for Maduro here is suprisingly low compared to other telephonic polls, which have often shown 10-20% approval ratings for Maduro: one possible explanation is a fall in Maduro's popularity; another is that more people approve of Maduro than see him as a legitimate president.

  • A later Meganalis poll found decreased support:

    A poll released Monday by Caracas-based Meganalisis found that Guaido's approval ratings dropped to 50 percent, down from 84 percent in January. He's still far more popular than Maduro whose approval rating is at 4 percent but the precipitous drop can't be ignored, said Meganalisis Vice President Ruben Chirino Leanez.

  • There's at least one poll that shows a somewhat different result from the previous ones, from Hinterlaces, a pollster tied to Chavismo. Similar to the previous one, this poll did not measure approval directly, but asked who people polled thought was the legitimate president. 57% chose Maduro, 32% Guaido, and 11% "I don't know." Differences in this poll might be attributable to apparently being based on direct interviews, which on the one hand might better represent households without phones, and on the other hand might lead to higher social desirability bias.

Overall, these results suggest that Guaido is popular. While the exact numerical definition of popularity is subjective, the majority of the polls suggest a popularity well over 50%, while the lowest suggests the approval of a third of the population, as of early February.

We need to keep some important caveats in mind when analyzing this data. Historically, Maduro's approval rating has been somewhat higher among less wealthy Venezuelans. As such, polls by telephone may overestimate Guaido's support by not getting data from Venezuelans who don't have phones, who are disproportionately likely to be poorer. Further, the form in which a survey question is asked can change the results: asking whether someone approves of Guaido is not the same as asking whether he should immediately be sworn in as interim president. Certain questions may also conflate support for Maduro and opposition to Guaido, such as the Hercon poll that grouped them together explicitly.

Finally, these results are likely to be highly time-sensitive: just as Maduro's failure to fix Venezuela's economic crisis has lowered his approval rating, if Guaido fails to do what he has promised (e.g. remove Maduro from the presidency) his approval rating might similarly plummet even without a corresponding rise in Maduro's approval. This is illustrated by the second Meganalisis poll mentioned previously.

Aside from polls, we could also look at the high turnout for Guaido's rallies and protests, such as this January 23 protest in Caracas:

enter image description here

Of course, this doesn't prove that he's more popular than Maduro (for that, I'd look to the polling data), given that the latter also has some large rallies, such as this one on January 30 (credit to this answer)

enter image description here

It's very hard to compare the size of the rallies directly, but I think it's safe to say that the fact that Guaido was able to draw a large crowd suggests strong popularity at that point in time.

  • Given the uncertainties of a foreign perspective, perhaps the caveats should precede any statistical meta-analysis. – agc May 7 at 12:15
  • @agc - All of those are Venezuelan pollsters. I don't actually think that makes them more reliable, necessarily: many are tied to either the opposition or Maduro, but they are nonetheless are based in the country, mostly in Caracas. – Obie 2.0 May 7 at 12:15
  • I'm aware that many people are going to vote based on whether they like Maduro or Guaido more, but I am doing my best to keep my answer focused on the question of Guaido's popularity (and to an extent that of Maduro, insofar as it helps to understand Guaido's), not what might be the ethics or motivations of the actions of Trump, Guaido, the Lima Group, Maduro, AMLO, whatever. – Obie 2.0 May 7 at 12:23
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    (+1) I think it's quite clear which of the explanations actually tries answering the question. I would only add (as a comment) that plenty of left wing parties in (mostly) left wing countries considered Maduro an illegitimate head of state (albeit some not going as far as supporting Guaidó, a stance which is, nonetheless, reasonable). An authoritarian is an authoritarian regardless of political color. – armatita May 7 at 14:06
4

Mostly no.

You may surf the internet a bit and obtain photofacts of Maduro's wide support: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D5dhYuNWkAATWk2.jpg:large https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/4747367.html

So, "dictator without people's support" is just a myth. But does no one in Venezuela supports Guaido? It won't be fair to say "yes". Guaido's supporters are concentrated in rich districts of Caracas. They are what you call "upper middle class". Parts of the old, before-Chavez Venezuela, from the times of a banana republic. That was logical - according to the Monroe doctrine, which is what Bolton now tries to revive.

That is important - without understanding what is the Monroe doctrine, it's impossible to understand why controlling Venezuela is so important for the US. As you remember, the doctrine claims the whole of South America as the US's (and only the US's) exceptional influence area. You can dive into late 19 - early 20 century history - time of full power of that doctrine - to understand term of a "banana republic". Or just open O'Henry's stories - "Cabbages and Kings" will give you such understanding. In fact, in those times there were no independent countries - just territories for US business.

Another point to low Guaido's support is a lack of support from the army. Venezuelan elites are now under very high pressure - just read John Bolton's twitter feed a bit. Do you see those endless claims to army to betray Maduro? Do you now why John Bolton has to persuade them himself? Because Guaido is in terribly in need of any army supporters.

Just imagine - the US, one of today's superpowers, cannot change regime in a country near its borders. Remembering regime changes during the Arabian spring, the regime changes in Ukraine and Georgia, and attempts to change the regime in Syria, we cannot say, that US has low skills or low resources. Doesn't this describe Guaido's level of support? Even Guaido himself accepts it, in some strange manner, but he does.

Also, if you already opened John Bolton's twitter, you may notice, that from some point, phrases about 'democracy' disappeared, John starts to be direct in his claims - "Russians should leave!". Without spells about "Venezuelian people" and "democracy", "elections" and so on. Just problems in US zone of influence controlling. Did you hear about Guaido before all this? No. He was just dropped out of the box, claimed as "Popular leader" and supported. No matter that there are OTHER opposition leaders - that's really so. But US chose Guaido. Why? Don't know, really. Maybe he is more guided. Don't know.

And about economics. Many claims about "Venezuela's economics is failing". That is true. And now there are US sanctions on it. But do you know how much time are sanctions in action? Let's see: Oh, my god, sanctions are in action for a very long time - from 2014! Sanctions also affects even medical supplies. Strange, that US press blames Maduro about medical supplies shortages - they should know, that the US itself stopped selling them, shouldn't they?

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    A good part of this answer is not relevant to the the question of Guaido's popularity among Venezuelians. – Evargalo May 7 at 10:26
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    Almost all of it is irrelevant to the question, because it focuses on Maduro's popularity, instead of Guaido's - the distinction I emphasized. Further, there is a reason I refrained from emphasizing photographs of anyone's rallies and focused on polling. Getting reliable information from photographs of rallies is very difficult. The first one in particular shows almost none of the rally and is very bad for any kind of conclusion. – Obie 2.0 May 7 at 10:32
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    So unfortunately this answer basically doesn't address Guaido's support, it just says that Maduro is popular (without a reference point for what qualifies as popularity). It would be like showing a picture of a packed Trump rally to tell people that Bernie Sanders is unpopular. – Obie 2.0 May 7 at 10:39
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    Wow,wow. Good. Especially about "reliable information". Polls from "international" agencies are of course reliable information. Truth in the last state, is it?) So, if we clear upper answer from "reliable information" what'll left there? Nothing. Can't you compare your "polls" results with Maduro's demonstrations and current situation?) Or with 4-months cries of "the only legitimate president of Venezuela"?) – user2501323 May 7 at 10:42
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    Also, does even one of this "polls" from your answer, @Obie2.0, provided information about choosing people for asking?(that's rhitorical question, I looked, and no, of course..) Did they are ask in Florida?) – user2501323 May 7 at 10:44
2

It seems doubtful that a non-Venezuelan, (like me, or presumably most of us here on Politics.SE), could adequately answer this topical and localized question. But foreigners can at least know their own principles and favor from afar whichever parties seem more in accord with those. Which brings up a related issue:

... I have a lot of respect for Code Pink but cannot understand why they are supporting Maduro or why their message is so contrary to the mainstream media.

Contrary messages might be due to:

  1. The (North American) mainstream media might be mistaken, and groups like Code Pink might be less mistaken.

  2. The mainstream media might be correct, and groups like Code Pink might be mistaken.

  3. The mainstream media and groups like Code Pink might both be mistaken. That is, given a problem, one party advocates for solution A, another for solution B, but unbeknownst to either, the set of possible correct solutions is { X, Y, Z...}, which includes neither A nor B.

The nature of the controversy has several facets:

  1. Whether the USA, (even if the USA is correct about its preferred leadership), should attempt to compel a weaker neighbor, (even if that neighbor is mistaken), to do things its way. That is, perhaps the smaller neighbor has a "right to be wrong", and having its decisions sidelined by a stronger paternalistic neighbor is more harmful to its healthy development than the error itself.

  2. Whether the smaller nation's error, (or its possibility), is so dreadful that it might actually pose a threat to even its larger neighbors. "Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins.” The specific nature of the potentially dreadful threat here might be more of a threat to special interests, (i.e. the "threat" of smaller profits for some sponsor), rather than a threat to the national commonweal; but these have been conflated before.

  3. Which leader would actually turn out to be worse, not just for one nation, but perhaps for both. (The USA has groomed more than one foreign leader that, like Frankenstein's Monster, turned on its creator.)

  • Why is not answering the question so popular? So far as I can tell,this answer doesn't address the question of Guaido's popularity, except to (in my view, mistakenly) assert that it's impossible to know for a foreigner. After that sentence, it seems to go off and address some tangentially related matters. I wonder whether you would extend this principle to every nation (e.g., someone from Japan can't know whether Trump is popular in the US). I don't agree with the other answer, but at least it asserted that Maduro was popular, which kind of touches on Guaido's popularity. – Obie 2.0 May 9 at 12:36
  • As for those arguments that don't address the question, I don't find them very convincing. First, this answer links to the National Review, which is not a very unbiased source, and is very right-wing (I have more than a little sympathy toward the argument of that particular piece, but even so). But the argument of that piece was about freedom of expression in the United States, the freedom to hold and express an incorrect opinion without risk of censorship, not the freedom of governments to carry out harmful actions without foreign comment or interference. – Obie 2.0 May 9 at 12:50
  • Besides, in my opinion, while all those philosophical points are true, their application to this situation is different than you seem to be implicitly stating. 1) People have a right to be wrong - which is why Maduro's treatment of protesters and media is disturbing. 2) "Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins" - indeed, and thus if Maduro is harming other people, the general presumption of non-interference in foreign affairs may not hold. 3) Guaido might turn out not to do whatever the US wants - yes, and that would be a good thing. – Obie 2.0 May 9 at 12:55
  • @Obie2.0, Thanks for the feedback. Most of your points seem well taken. The motive for this answer is more of a supplement to both your own and user2501323 more direct answers; I suppose I could include a summary of those, (as with a summary/survey style answer), but it seemed redundant. – agc May 9 at 14:51
  • @Obie2.0, National Review's tendencies toward bias are less relevant here, I'd picked an NR cite to help show that this particular libertarian argument is favored not just by liberals. – agc May 9 at 14:56

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