Girish Gupta

HOME

PHOTOS

ONLINE

Twitter
Instagram
IFTTT
Facebook
LinkedIn
Keybase
GitHub

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Iraq
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Daily Mail
Datum
Ecologist
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
Independent
La Prensa (Panama)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTE
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About
CV
Contact (PGP Key)
On Maduro's lessening popularity and shakeup
Sept. 7, 2014 — Caracas, Venezuela

Featured on RTÉ World Report



Overlooking Venezuela’s presidential palace in Caracas is the slum of 23 de enero. On its walls are huge murals of leftist thinkers. One of these depicts Christ at the centre of the Last Supper. Surrounding him are Che Guevara, Karl Marx and a host of other socialist and communist icons, including former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.

On the side of 23 de enero’s main square, Yoanna Ortiz shelters under a parasol from the Caribbean sun.

The 24-year-old is not impressed with Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.

“Chávez was intelligent,” she told me. “When doors closed, he would find a way to open them. Maduro, however, just talks about how the opposition is planning a coup and wants to kill him.”

Ortiz added that Maduro would be better off working towards sorting the country’s problems.

Strict economic controls have led to shortages of the most basic goods from vegetable oil and shampoo to, most infamously, toilet paper. I have seen lines outside supermarkets stretching into more than a thousand people. Prices have risen over the last year more than sixty per cent and Venezuela has one of the world’s highest murder rates.

“Things are much worse now than in Chávez’s time,” Ortiz told me, adding that it was the economy that concerned her most.

Opinion polls — and others wandering the square here — reflect Ortiz’s thoughts. Maduro’s approval ratings are in the mid-thirties. These have dropped considerably since he was elected to power after Chávez’s death a year and a half ago. And they are far lower than the numbers enjoyed by Chávez in his prime.

However, Maduro says he is keen to make a change. On Tuesday, after much hype, he spoke for three straight hours on national television to announce a big “shakeup” of government.

“We must begin a new stage in the revolution,” he began.

Rather than going down the more pragmatic route that many in the opposition had hoped for, however, Maduro appeared to veer to the left.

He ousted Rafael Ramírez, the figurehead for a more pragmatic movement within the government. Ramírez lost his three major roles: head of the state oil company, oil minister and vice president for the economy.

They are among the most powerful offices in Venezuela. And it’s worth remembering that the country has the world’s largest oil reserves. Many thought Ramírez more powerful than the president himself.

The names of those taking over are telling: The country’s top economic role is now to be held by Rodolfo Marco Torres. He was a brigadier-general who participated in Chávez’s 1992 coup attempt against the then government. The Oil Ministry is to be taken over by Chávez’s cousin, Asdrúbal Chávez.

Back in the square, I asked Ortiz if she was at least pleased that some changes were being made. “What shakeup?” she responded. “There will still be lines for flour, milk and sugar.”

Hopes for pragmatism have essentially been dashed. Those in the opposition are unimpressed but for Maduro, his biggest concern will be losing the support of people like Ortiz.

Yet, the pragmatic changes that Ramírez talked publicly about imposing would initially have been painful for poorer Venezuelans.

Some in 23 de enero remain behind the government, despite admitting problems.

“A shakeup is necessary in revolution,” said Zulema Sambrano, walking through the main square here. “Revolutions happen in stages. Things are evolving.”

For World Report, this is Girish Gupta in Caracas

Filed from
Caracas, Venezuela






More...

Exclusive: At least 123 Venezuelan soldiers detained since protests - documents
Jul. 6, 2017


Venezuela hikes minimum wage 50 percent, effectively down 17 percent
Jul. 2, 2017


Venezuela movie actor behind helicopter attack on government buildings
Jun. 28, 2017


Fourteen Venezuelan army officers jailed in first week of protests - documents
Jun. 6, 2017


Exclusive: U.S. considers possible sanctions against Venezuela oil sector - officials
Jun. 4, 2017


Exclusive: Trump administration concerned about U.S. firms giving financial 'lifeline' to Venezuela
Jun. 4, 2017


United Airlines ends flights to Venezuela, further isolating country
Jun. 3, 2017


Venezuela sets new exchange mechanism, as currency continues to slide
May. 24, 2017


Exclusive: Venezuela holds 5,000 Russian surface-to-air MANPADS missiles
May. 22, 2017


Venezuelan opposition activists march to Leopoldo Lopez' jail
Apr. 28, 2017


Venezuela says inflation 274 percent last year, economists say far higher
Apr. 20, 2017


Venezuelan protests against government leave three dead
Apr. 19, 2017


Venezuelans return to streets, roused by ban on opposition leader
Apr. 8, 2017


Venezuelan opposition, security forces clash in anti-Maduro protests
Apr. 6, 2017


Venezuela security forces battle anti-Maduro protesters
Apr. 4, 2017








© Girish Gupta