Venezuela: why Maduro hasn't been toppled

In a failed attempted coup last week against Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, a number of soldiers joined forces with the self-appointed interim president Juan Guaidó. The army's leadership, however, remained loyal to Maduro. Commentators discuss why the opposition hasn't been able to win the protracted power struggle despite popular support.

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People don't trust Guaidó

The opposition in Venezuela failed because it neither had the backing of the army nor the trade unions, writes political scientist Heorhij Kukhaleishvili on website

“The military supports Maduro because he is sticking to [ex-president] Chavez's course, which increased the military's importance in society. ... The security forces are afraid of losing their privileges under the new government. And apparently Guaidó has also failed to win the support of the trade union leaders. ... A lot of people are unhappy with Maduro, but they also don't trust Guaidó because they see him as a US puppet. It seems that a majority of Venezuelans are unwilling to swap socialism for a neo-liberal development model.”

Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Only a proactive stance can effect regime change

The Venezuelan opposition repeated the mistake that was made in Cuba, Novaya Gazeta observes:

“The Cuban opposition was convinced that the system would break down after the collapse of the USSR so it opted to simply sit and wait instead of doing anything much - and ultimately achieved nothing. The Venezuelan opposition was also inactive for too long because it was sure that the Chávistas would fail. The opposition followed the lead of its middle-class supporters. ... These people [the opposition leaders Guaidó and Lopez] are not used to talking to armies, whereas Hugo Chávez had no trouble finding a common language. The opposition has never worked together with the inhabitants of the slums where the country's poorest people live.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Opposition is being intimidated with violence

Only fear can explain the opposition's failure to realize its potential, writes Gazeta Wyborcza:

“According to the opinion polls around 70 percent of the population supports the opposition. Yet it still doesn't have enough influence in the state apparatus to take over power in the country. The parliament, in which the opposition has a majority, is powerless because the regime refuses to recognise it and just ignores it even if it isn't having MPs shot or incarcerated. The people are afraid of the regime even though they are sick and tired of it and lack food, medications, water, electricity and any prospects for the future. Because people who protest on the street can be shot down by the police or government soldiers on motorbikes at any time.”