Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is blaming Donald Trump directly for the mounting political crisis in his country, calling Trump's support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó a “great provocation” earlier this week. And the turmoil continued Friday with U.S. diplomats defying Maduro's order to leave the consulates by the weekend.
With Maduro and Guaidó now both claiming to be the South American country's president, Venezuelan citizens are divided over who to support and whether to stay amid critical shortages and worries of impending violence, following street protests this week. VICE News was on the ground in Caracas recently asking citizens about the realities of their country.
“Maduro has violated the constitution along with the other branches, it’s all taken hostage,” said Dilia Ortiz, an independent local merchant who welcomed American and international support for Guaidó , who swore himself in as president Wednesday.
But others stand by Maduro and support his demanded expulsion of American diplomats, announced Tuesday. “They need to grab their bags, go north, and leave us alone,” said William Zamora, a federal worker. “As Venezuelans, we solve our own problems,” he added. Luis Montilla, a steelworker, sees the American pronunciation as a violation of their sovereignty, and said, “the United States can’t impose a president on Venezuela.”
Despite the economic challenges and political climate in Venezuela, most of the people we talked to said they wouldn’t want to leave their country if they had the chance.
“I believe my nation is the most beautiful country in the world. Nothing else is up to par,” said Zamora. Alina Toledo, a young publicist on the opposite side of the political spectrum said, “I feel like Venezuela still has a lot to give, and it’s better to be here fighting.”
This segment originally aired January 24, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.