The FINANCIAL -- While Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro spoke last week of international and domestic plots to subvert him, Gallup polling in Venezuela shows that most residents have disapproved of their nation's leadership since he took office. In the past two years, just one in five Venezuelans have approved of the job performance of their country's leadership.
Maduro declared a "constitutional state of emergency" last week to address "external and foreign aggressions" against Venezuela. But many view the state of emergency as a tactic to retain power amid the chaos of the nation's economic woes and the people's lack of access to basic goods and services, such as food and healthcare.
The government's preparation for and response to the crisis have received criticism for mismanaging the nation's oil reserves and mistreating the private sector. Meanwhile, the federal government's executive and legislative branches remain at odds after Maduro was dealt a stinging blow when voters placed the opposition party at the helm of the nation's congress, which holds a two-thirds supermajority in the National Assembly. But before the incoming opposition lawmakers took office, Maduro hastily packed Venezuela's Supreme Court with allies, placing a check on the legislative branch in his favor -- a move criticized by constitutional experts.
Venezuelans' perceptions of widespread corruption in their nation's government have risen in the years since Maduro took office. Majorities of 54% to 70% said corruption was widespread in their government from 2006 to 2012, during the final years of Hugo Chavez's presidency. Upon Chavez's death in 2013, Maduro -- his vice president -- narrowly won election to succeed him, and perceptions of widespread government corruption increased to even higher ratings of 75% to 78% from 2013 to 2015.
At New Low, One in Seven Report Feeling Safe Walking Alone at Night
Amid their weakened confidence and greater perceptions of corruption, Venezuelans are also feeling less safe. In 2014, the country rated lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean on Gallup's Law and Order Index and was nearly the lowest in the world. A record low of 14% in 2015 reported feeling safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live. This percentage is nearly three times lower than the high of 44% in 2007.
As they have continued to struggle in their personal lives, Venezuelans were twice as likely to say they would like to move permanently to another country in 2015 (11%) as they were in 2008 (22%). Gallup has found that Venezuelans who would like to move to another country are most likely to want to move to the U.S., Spain, Panama, Colombia or other Spanish-speaking countries in the region. The percentage who would like to move is nowhere near the highest in South America, but it is the highest Gallup has measured in Venezuela in nearly a decade. Young people in most countries are usually the most likely to want to leave, and this is true in Venezuela as well. One in three Venezuelans between the ages of 15 and 29 (33%) would like to leave their country permanently, compared with 21% of those between the ages of 30 and 49 and 10% of those aged 50 and older.
As Venezuelans' lives have been turned upside down, few take solace in the government's ability to address their hardships. They continue to struggle with their incomes, food and healthcare affordability, and overall life evaluations while Venezuela's government officials spar in Caracas. As the political chaos unfolds, many fear for their safety and some even consider life in another country.