Thousands will vote in Venezuela with the hope of a change in the economy and family reunion

Thousands will vote in Venezuela with the hope of a change in the economy and family reunion
Thousands will vote in Venezuela with the hope of a change in the economy and family reunion
CARACAS —

Thousands of Venezuelans will vote in the presidential election on July 28, hoping for a change of government that will allow the economy to revive and reunite families separated by migration.

“I would like there to be a change in the economy, that we could get rid of this government, and be able to emerge more, that Venezuela could be a better country,” said Jonaiker Guerra, 24, to the Voice of America while walking down a busy street in Caracas.

War is of the generation of Venezuelans who have not experienced any other form of government: Chavismo has been in power for 25 years, first with the late Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), and then with his political heir, Nicolás Maduro, who is seeking a third six-year term.

But the possibility of “living something else” starting July 28 excites Guerra and thousands of Venezuelans, according to the polls.

Most polls give the advantage to the opposition led by María Corina Machado, who is disqualified from holding public office, but represented on the ballot by the diplomat Edmundo Gonzalez, 74 years old.

This is the first presidential election in a decade for Machado and the traditional opposition, which did not participate in the 2018 elections in which Maduro was re-elected, considering that there were no guarantees. And although there are now complaints that these elections are not competitive, abstention is not part of the opposition’s discourse.

Venezuelan presidential candidate Edmundo Gonzalez and opposition leader Maria Corina Machado attend a campaign rally in Caracas on July 4, 2024.

Also questioned on the street, Christopher Galicia, 43, like Guerra, wants “everything to change.”

“Let everyone have a decent salary, let everyone be able to buy what they need with their salary, let this thing we are experiencing end,” continues this Venezuelan, who has three jobs “to survive.”

Gregoria Mendoza, 41, has three children and will vote with hopes for a future for them. “I hope there is a better situation for the children, that there is a better education,” she told the poll. VOA.

In any case, the greatest desire of these people is that after years of deep crisis in the country, both economic and social, the recovery that will allow for the well-being of all will be consolidated.

Venezuela’s economic activity began to decline in 2014, amid the collapse of the country’s main source of income: oil. In addition, a model based on threats, regulations and controls threatened the profitability and productivity of companies. Between 2014 and 2021, the economic contraction was more than 70%, according to experts.

Venezuelans then faced long periods of hyperinflation and food shortages, which generated, among other things, an exodus of millions of citizens.

The return of loved ones

This is the case of his family, Guerra said: “I have a brother abroad, and a lot of family is abroad.”

“That they come back, that they are here with us again. It has been difficult, because my brother has been away for a long time, and another one left and had to come back because things were tough. That they can all be here and we can share as a family again,” he said.

In the last decade, some 7 million citizens have left Venezuela, according to the Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants.

For this reason, a country with economic and social conditions for his return is one of the demands of the voters.

“I would like them to come back, for Venezuela to be like it was before, for there to be employment, which is what one wants, for there to be employment, businesses… so that the family is not separated,” he says. Elvira Dufont, at a newspaper stand.

President Nicolas Maduro, who constantly denounces conspiracies to overthrow him, also promises economic recovery if he is re-elected. In his campaign speeches, the president assures his followers that he will resume paralyzed works and recover hospitals after years of collapse.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is greeted by supporters on the opening day of the presidential election campaign, in Caracas, Venezuela, July 4, 2024.

Yajaira Daboin, 57, is a faithful follower of Maduro. She does not believe that the government will suffer a defeat in the elections, but she is on alert: “If the opposition wins, there will be total extermination of all things Chavismo (…) Of course the government has to improve many things, but there are signs that we are improving,” she told reporters. VOA.

The Venezuela that the winner will receive

The Center for Political and Government Studies at the private Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB) projects that Maduro will obtain more than 4 million votes, and González almost 7 million.

“Everything indicates that the opposition is at its best, and everything indicates that the government is at its weakest point, and why? Because there is wear and tear after 25 years and people want a change, and they want a change in the system,” explains the director of this research center, Benigno Alarcón.

In the Venezuela that the candidate will receive, 8 out of 10 Venezuelans are poor due to income, meaning that what they earn is not enough to cover the basic needs.

40% of school-age children miss school frequently due to problems ranging from failures in public services to lack of food at school or money to pay for transportation.

A supporter of Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Edmundo Gonzalez holds a sign reading “for a youth free from socialism” during a rally in Caracas on July 4, 2024.

These indicators are derived from the Living Conditions Survey (Encovi 2024), an informative and statistical reference in the absence of official figures.

“People are increasingly aware that we must take advantage of July 28, because July 28 is the great political opportunity that may not present itself again,” explains Luis Salamanca, a doctor in Political Science and lawyer, who describes this election as “critical and crucial.”

“It is crucial because there could be a change in the political system, which is much more than a change of regime. It is not just the presidency of Venezuela that is at stake, it is all institutions,” he concludes.

[Adriana Núñez Rabascall colaboró en esta historia]

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