Citizens of Venezuela are becoming increasingly restless as the country continues to experience food and medicine shortages under the socialist government leadership of President Nicolas Maduro. In addition to riots and protests that have broken out sporadically across the country all summer long, more Venezuelans are expressing an overt desire to simply flee the country altogether.
A recent poll from Latin American study group Datincorp found that 57% of registered voters in Venezuela — some 12 million people — want to leave the country. That number doesn’t include any of the under-18 dependents many adults would likely want to take with them in the nation of nearly 31 million people.
“The desire of leaving is clearly related to the lack of hope and the disappointment at the current situation,” Datincorp chief political analyst Jesus Seguias told Fox News Latino.
Inflation rates are projected to surpass 700% in the Venezuelan economy this year and violent crimes have reached record highs.
The poll shows a significant increase in discontent since a similar survey was conducted last year, which found that 49% of respondents said they’d like to leave the country. The mounting public frustration with President Maduro’s regime — and his repeated refusals to hold a referendum vote that might cut short his six-year term — likely adds fuel to the flames, even among socialist supporters.
Seguias noted that the poll indicated that one in four supporters of Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor and the country’s first socialist president, still expressed a desire to leave the country.
“They are Chavistas and they declare themselves as such,” Seguias said, “but they are angry at President Nicolas Maduro because of the country’s situation.”
While Americans may move an average of 12 times throughout their lives, crossing international borders is not so easy, especially for impoverished Venezuelans without resources or job skills. Yet that hasn’t stopped them from trying.
Last month, a group of 33 Venezuelan women were deported from Colombia after the border between the two neighboring countries had been re-opened to allow for food access. Another 20 Venezuelans were arrested in the Dutch Caribbean island country of Curacao, some 20 miles north of Venezuela’s shores, after attempting to navigate a small boat to land illegally.
As the situation becomes increasingly desperate in Venezuela, the national electorate council may be inching closer to calling a referendum vote. The timing, however, may prove significant. A vote to oust Maduro in 2016, his third year of term, would result in a new popular vote for the presidency. If it gets delayed until 2017, Venezuela’s 1999 constitution stipulates that the current Vice President, Aristóbulo Istúriz, would take over.