Nicolas Maduro’s authority is undermined after two close allies of the late Hugo Chavez reveal their discontent with his leadership.
Venezuela: Internal conflict deepens in Chavismo
Nicolas Maduro has been under further scrutiny from the Venezuelan population yet this week’s criticism has come from an unlikely source – within the party itself.
Two former military officials and close allies of Hugo Chavez have called for the resignation of Nicolas Maduro – after just over a year in charge.
As deep polarisation has gripped the Venezuelan electorate for many years, it has intensified in recent months. Despite this, Maduro has managed to retain a significant scale of support from his own camp.
Nicolas Maduro has overseen a troublesome transition phase between himself and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. High insecurity levels coupled with huge economic constraints have drawn mass condemnation from most corners of the electorate.
With senior Chavez officials speaking out this week against the Maduro regime, the President is now confronted with a fresh battle to satisfy the broadening battle within the Chavismo ideology.
The two individuals to speak out are Yoel Acosta Chirinos y Carlos Guyón. They express concern at the hard-line principles taken by the state to restrict opposition movements. 43 Venezuelans have died in protests since February and thousands more have been detained.
State officials continue to arrest and prosecute members of the opposition, having questioned Maria Corina Machado last month over an alleged assassination attempt. In addition, the Supreme Court has set July 23rd as the date of Leopoldo Lopez’s trial, who has been in jail since February 18th.
Acosta and Guyon along with Chavez were among the founders of the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200), which led a failed coup d’etat lead by Hugo Chavez on February 4th 1992, known more commonly in Venezuela as 4F.
Acosta argues that the President must step down to “avoid a terrible situation”. He added “the resignation is inevitable; any further time is a useless sacrifice”.
Acosta and Guyon are not the first individuals to reveal their alienation with the new Chavismo structure. In recent months, cracks have begun to appear.
Jorge Giordani – a mentor to Hugo Chavez and former Planning minister – was dismissed in June after a cabinet reshuffle and months of economic downturn. Shortly after, Giordani launched a scathing attack on the government regime and drew light upon what many observers had speculated – that divisions had worsened in the wake of Chavez’s death.
Giordani criticised the state’s fiscal policy for vast expenditure – arguably a determinant in Venezuela’s dismal inflation rate. In addition, Giordani insisted Maduro’s leadership and communication skills were unfitting to lead Chavismo in the right direction.
In June, Maduro dismissed the supposed frailties of the Chavismo movement, arguing “there is no excuse to betray the revolutionary movement”, and criticised the “big egos” of other members.
Figures released at the beginning of July show that Maduro’s popularity has plummeted 20% from his initial succession rating in April 2013. Initial statistics gave the President a 57% rating, after almost 18 months it stands at 37%.
Social services have yet again disclosed startling statistics of the degrading living standards. A 40% reduction in the number of teachers has meant that many students are completing their final exams without having attended classes, despite Venezuelan law requiring students to have at least 75% attendance to pass a course.
As many more internal dissenters find their voices Maduro will struggle to deliver and display a united governing body. Nicolas Maduro now faces perhaps his toughest fight – to regain popularity and legitimacy amongst the electorate.