This professional class has tried to lead the protest, but it lacks the popular legitimacy to bring all segments of society under its umbrella—and, crucially, a single leader to guide it. Beyond calling in unison for civic disobedience, it displays little of the creativity needed for the campaign ahead, despite the real possibility that some of its members might have very clear ideas of what to do. For example: Privately, some of them, have been open to an internationally backed deal to unblock the presidential elections. Meanwhile, others publicly denounce such an option. This has created a situation where the ball, kicked from all sides with equal force, remains in place.
Then, there is the new generation of politicians and students, such as congressmen Freddy Guevara, Marialbert Barrios, and Miguel Pizarro, who make up the majority of those fighting in the streets. They are the most invested of all, as well as the most innocent. In comparison with the previous group, they do not bear the stains of a political class that tried every possible trick in the book to oust Chávez (coup d’etat, oil strike, rejection of electoral results—you name it). The young fight not for the past, but for a future. Many of their leaders, like Pizarro, openly reject some of the more embarrassing actions taken by the Opposition of the past. They tend to be more open to the idea of harnessing the moderate chavista vote. Unfortunately, they are powerless, chronically underfunded and, again, lack a single leader. They are also, disproportionately, the ones who die on the streets.
Finally, you have the traditional chavista support base, the poorest of all in Venezuela, now rebelling against the government following a drastic decrease in their material well-being after Maduro’s backward handling of the crash in the price of oil. They are the ones who have to queue in supermarkets for hours to try to buy the most basic price-controlled goods, the ones who have to pledge their loyalty to Maduro each week in return for paltry government ration bags. These are the people who, last year, lost, on average, 19 pounds, who are now only eating two or less protein-poor meals a day, who have hardly any access to medicine, whose newborns are dying.
This group is less likely to protest, partly because they have no time for it, and partly because they have been silenced through the threat of starvation or paramilitary violence. On a deeper level, they do not demonstrate because, being old chavistas, they distrust the Opposition. But they are angry all the same, and do find a channel for their frustration: looting. According to the Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social, there are, on average, 33 daily protests and three lootings each day in Venezuela, both branches from the same sickened tree.