Country shares approval cellar with Venezuela’s Maduro, survey says

The job approval rating of Laura Chinchilla was the second lowest in Latin America only exceeded by the dismal rating Venezuelans give to their president.

The ratings are from the 2014 survey by the Latin American Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University. The Venezuelan survey was in February 2014, and the Costa Rican survey took place in the weeks before May 6 when the new presdient was inaugurated.

The job approval ratings for President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela are lower than any of his peers in Latin America and the Caribbean, while support is high for the rights of regime critics to protest, vote, exercise freedom of expression, and run for public office.

On a scale from 0 to 100, Maduro scores an average of 34.3 in presidential job approval, according to the survey.

That places Venezuela at the very bottom of its Latin American and Caribbean counterparts.

The rating Costa Rica is 37. Most of the other countries in the region score in the 50s and 60s.

“Maduro’s dismal presidential approval ratings reflect public discontent with the severe political, social and economic problems facing Venezuela, including inflation rates reaching an estimated 68 percent and rising, widespread scarcity of basic goods and the second highest homicide rate in the world,” write Mariana Rodríguez and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister in the AmericasBarometer: Topical Brief dated March 2.

“This problem-plagued climate has fueled a growing call by opposition leaders and activists for citizens to voice grievances and demand change from the government.”

The Maduro administration recently arrested opposition figure Antonio Ledezma, mayor of Caracas, on conspiracy charges for an alleged coup plot against the president.

Last year, violent clashes between government security forces and street demonstrators left more than 40 people statistics030515dead, hundreds injured and thousands arrested. In addition to Ledezma, 33 mayors across the country face charges related to the protests, and alleged involvement in conspiracy and coup plotting.

These moves to muzzle critics have generated little momentum among Venezuelans, the survey shows. On a scale of 0 to 100, support is fairly high, at 61.8 units, for the political rights of critics of the Venezuelan system of government. That is the highest rate of political tolerance in the Latin America and Caribbean region, with the vast majority of countries scoring in the 40s and 50s.

“These data suggest that strident moves against opposition leaders, to the extent that they appear to be moves designed to silence regime critics, may further undermine President Maduro’s popularity,” Rodríguez and Zechmeister write.

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