Venezuelan opposition A major symbolic battle has been won to secure the governorship of Barinas, but analysts say they are still losing a broader political war with government forces.
Opposition candidate Sergio Garrido late Sunday in the hometown of late leader Hugo Chavez of the oil-rich country Defeat Jorge Arreaza of the ruling Socialist PartyFormer Vice President and Foreign Minister of Venezuela.
Venezuela holds The world’s largest proven oil reserves But its economy is in ruins as critics say Chávez and his successor, current President Nicholas Maduro, have mismanaged the country’s oil wealth.
Venezuela’s economy shrank more than 75 percent between 2014 and 2020, according to U.S. government data Congressional Research Service, “the largest economic collapse outside the war in at least 45 years”. More than 5.9 million people have fled the South American country in search of food and safety, creating the worst refugee crisis in the Western Hemisphere. UNHCR.
Opposition politician Juan Guaido considers himself the country’s legitimate interim president And recognized by the United States, Canada, Colombia and more than 50 other countries. However, he has the least real power, and Maduro’s government controls the presidential palace, as well as the country’s military and bureaucracy.
Despite the symbolic significance of the election, the opposition’s victory in Barinas did not “effectively change the balance of power,” said Kurt Welland, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies Venezuelan politics.
“The opposition has absolutely no choice,” Verlander said, adding that over the years, through protests, negotiations with the government and hope external power Just as the United States would intervene on their behalf, the opposition has been unsuccessfully trying to oust Maduro.
“They’re going in circles,” he told Al Jazeera. “The opposition clearly has no leverage and no strategy.”
Venezuela’s government blames the country’s problems About Western Sanctions The United States and its allies are conspiring to undermine Maduro’s leadership.
Analysts say the worst of Venezuela’s economic downturn may be over, but massacres are widespread and more than 75 percent of the population now lives in extreme poverty. Local research published in September.
Oil production is the lifeblood of the country’s economy, accounting for 99% of export earnings, almost doubled The past year comes after 2020 hit a multi-decade low.
Sanctions by the United States and its allies have also taken a toll on oil exports and the industry as a whole, cutting off access to specialized parts and technology needed to maintain production. Venezuela’s oil exports fell 38% in 2020 to their lowest level in 77 years after the U.S. government tightened sanctions.
struggling unprecedented inflation, the local currency, the Bolivar, has been replaced by the US dollar in parts of the capital and other cities. This has reduced shortages of basic products and some price stability – for the small group of Venezuelans who have access to foreign currency.
Jorge ArreazaBarinas’ government candidate, the son-in-law of former President Chávez, acknowledged on Twitter that his party had lost before the final results were announced. “Get ready because we’re going to have a counter-attack: we haven’t played the last hand,” Arreaza said in a message to supporters.
Sunday’s vote was a repeat of the Barinas gubernatorial race after the original election was canceled by a court last year with the opposition leading.
But after December’s election, most state and local governments are now in the hands of Maduro’s supporters for the first time in years.This objection dismissed Those elections were chaotic, accusing the government of using state resources to support its campaigns and violent intimidation of rivals.
A Canadian foreign ministry official said these local elections, like past votes in Venezuela, cannot be considered democratic.
“The United Nations … reported cases of corruption, coordination and direct support between non-state armed groups and the Venezuelan state, including its security forces,” Jason Kung, a spokesman for Canada’s global affairs department, told Al Jazeera by email, responding to concerns from US State Department.
However, the EU said the conditions for these regional and local elections were better than in previous elections, although A series of violations and other issues.
The government denies claims that Venezuela is undemocratic. For example, if the opposition can win the governorship of Barinas, it would be difficult to argue that Venezuela is a dictatorship, it said. Caracas keeps in touch Russia, China, Turkey and Iran and other countries backing Maduro.
Guaido’s popularity drops
In addition to expanding its dominance in local government, Maduro’s supporters now control Venezuela’s National Assembly, the country’s last body controlled by the opposition.
Analysts say Guaido’s movement also faces internal divisions, with wider public interest waning after failing to oust Maduro.
Orlando Vieira-Blanco, who was appointed by Guaido as Venezuela’s ambassador to Canada, told Al Jazeera that the opposition had lost some momentum over the past year. Viera-Blanco said many Venezuelans simply grew tired of violence and deprivation and stopped being politically active while looking for their next meal.
“One-third of our population faces poverty at the level of hunger,” Vieira-Blanco told Al Jazeera. “This has never happened in another country in Latin America.”
Despite the conditions, Guaido’s personal approval ratings are roughly the same as Maduro’s. According to a Datanalisis poll released in October, the popularity of the two among ordinary Venezuelans is about 15 percent.
“The Venezuelan people are fed up with political leaders on all sides,” said Antulio Rosales, a professor of political science at the University of New Brunswick. He told Al Jazeera that the opposition movement was deeply divided between different factions.
Rear Declared himself interim president in 2019 And using street protests and foreign support to try to oust Maduro, Guaido has achieved little in terms of concrete results, fueling divisions within the opposition camp and more interest in negotiating with the government.
“Maduro, Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition, the regime needs to sit down and negotiate,” Vieira Blanco told Al Jazeera.
Norwegian mediation talks The fight between Maduro’s government and the opposition took place in August.However, following the extradition of politically linked businessmen, the government suspended its involvement in the process in November alex saab From Cape Verde to the US on money laundering charges.
A U.S. State Department spokesman told Al Jazeera that Washington supports the resumption of talks.
However, future talks will follow Maduro’s schedule. Analysts said he had little incentive to back down as the economy showed some signs of improvement and the opposition lost momentum.
“While one can never rule out sudden unexpected developments,” Weiland said, “everything points to continuity.”