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News / Nation & World

Poll: Maduro victory in Venezuela’s election could lead to exodus

40% say they would consider leaving if autocratic ruler wins July 28 contest

By Antonio Maria Delgado, Miami Herald
Published: April 12, 2024, 4:12pm
3 Photos
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Mar&iacute;a Corina Machado sing their national anthem during a protest demanding free and fair elections in Venezuela&rsquo;s upcoming balloting on April 6 in Bogota, Colombia.
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado sing their national anthem during a protest demanding free and fair elections in Venezuela’s upcoming balloting on April 6 in Bogota, Colombia. (fernando vergara/Associated Press) Photo Gallery

In a new sign of Venezuelans’ simmering desperation, a poll released Thursday shows that 40 percent of Venezuelans would consider leaving the South American nation if ruler Nicolás Maduro is declared the winner of July’s presidential election.

The opinion poll, prepared by the firm Meganalisis, also said 45 percent of those surveyed did not know if they would consider leaving the country or not, allowing that at least some of them might do so if Maduro stays in power. The election, whose credibility has already been questioned in the United States, is set for July 28.

Only 16 percent of those consulted responded that they would not consider leaving, in a result described as “monstrous, scandalous” by Meganalisis President Ruben Chirinos.

More than 7.7 million Venezuelans, equivalent to about 20 percent of the population, have already left the country to escape the dire economic conditions and lack of freedom imposed by Caracas’ socialist regime.

The majority of those who have left Venezuela ended up settling in Colombia, a country that welcomed 2.8 million of them, but hundreds of thousands also sought refuge in Peru, Spain, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina and the United States. The total number of Venezuelans who reached the United States has been estimated at more than 545,000.

If 40 percent of the Venezuelan population decided to leave the country, that would translate to 10 million people seeking refuge in other nations.

The desire to leave the country is born out of an overall sense of hopelessness prevalent in Venezuela following more than two decades of autocratic rule by Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, Chirinos said.

“With the passage of time, the perception that we are seeing in Venezuela is that the Chavista movement, with all that socialism entails, is increasingly weaker in terms of popular support, but led by individuals clinging to power, and clinging to the notion of imposing on the population their way of seeing the country, which is a way that does not translate in generating opportunities for the people, nor in possibilities for growth, to have a family or to have a better quality of life,” he said.

The survey, based on interviews with 1,000 people in the capital and in 23 states of the country, also showed that a large majority of Venezuelans continue to support the leadership of opposition leader María Corina Machado, even though the Maduro regime has banned her from running for president.

When asked who is the most reliable and most credible political leader in the country, 74 percent said Machado, while 72 percent said they would vote for her if she was allowed to compete in the election.

These numbers contrast with those for Maduro, who would get 13 percent if he competed against the candidates who have been authorized to run in the election.

According to the opinion poll, 81 percent of those surveyed do not want Maduro to remain in power, 10 percent want him to do so, and 9 percent said they do not know.

Fearing that Maduro would clearly be defeated in the election if Machado was allowed to compete, the Caracas regime banned her from participating, in what was described by the Biden administration as a violation of the democratic transition roadmap agreed by Caracas, Washington and the Venezuelan opposition in an accord signed last year in Barbados.