Nicolás Maduro Approval Rating: 60 Percent Of Venezuelans Disapprove Of President’s Performance, Says New Survey

An anti-government protester, wearing a mask in the colours of the Venezuelan flag, stands at a barricade during riots in Caracas April 20, 2014. Masked youths battled police, protesters burned and hung from lamp-posts effigies of President Nicolas Maduro and marchers demanded the "resurrection" of democracy on a volatile Easter Sunday in Venezuela. Picture taken April 20, 2014 Reuters

A little over a year after Nicolás Maduro was elected president of Venezuela in a campaign that turned out to be surprisingly close, the majority of the Venezuelan public (59.2 percent) disapproves of his job performance, according to a new survey from the polling group Datanálisis. That percentage has leapt since protests swept the country in mid-February, with about 44 percent saying they disapproved back in November. And perhaps most striking of all, over half of the public (59.1 percent) said they believed Maduro should not serve out the rest of his term, which ends in 2019.

El Universal reported that in the poll of 1,300 respondents taken between March 31 and April 20 -- as protests continued in many cities -- almost 80 percent said that the country’s situation was “negative.” Political loyalties of the respondents were split roughly into thirds, as supporters of the government, opposition, or as independent. Among those who self-identified as either supporters of the opposition or independent, that percentage was higher still: 96.9 and 89.6 percent, respectively. And despite the claims of the government, which is dominated by members of Maduro’s Socialist Party, the president was identified as most responsible for the country’s problems by nearly a third (31.8 percent) of the public.

The poll is likely to strike another blow to the popular mandate of Maduro, who has said he will not step down before the end of his term, and add fuel to the fire of the government’s fiercest and most conservative opponents, who rallied their supporters to join a push for “The Exit” of the president after protests broke out.  The news comes the same day that Human Rights Watch released the conclusions of an investigation into possible human-rights violations by Maduro’s government against protestors. The group found “strong evidence of serious human rights violations committed by Venezuelan security forces” and said that officials with the attorney general’s office and judiciary often knew of and even participated in abuses.

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David Iaconangelo is a Brooklyn-based writer and translator.  Formerly editor of ZafraLit, a blog of new short fiction from Cuba.  He has lived in and reported from various Latin American countries.