On Feb. 24, 2015, a 14-year old schoolboy was shot and killed during an anti-government protest in San Cristobal, Venezuela. This marked the anniversary of massive street protests that choked the country and left more than 40 people dead. I lose sleep with these demonstrations, as my 19-year old son is hard-headed enough to join the hurtles in his College town, which is the epicentre of these protests.
Venezuelan's are suffering from inflation, insane crime rates and food shortages, yet the only ones marching against 'President' Nicolás Maduro’s vile government are the middle-and-upper-class groups. To understand why the poorer-class sits out, you have to intersect data and context.
Venezuela's incomes have increased during the last 15 years, and this is what insular 'Chavistas' see–even though they're poorer than ever, and the country's income growth has nothing to do with the Bolivarian socialism.
Venezuela's economy depends on oil exports, and Maduro (or Chavez when he was alive) lucked out with oil basket prices going from $10 to $80 when the 'Revolution' began.
Moreover, when you compare Venezuela's economic growth, inflation, health and education with its neighbors, who also profited from the same oil prices, it is very clear to see that 'Chavismo' has failed.
Venezuela hit the jackpot in 1999, and experienced the biggest trade bonanza in Latin America (200% annual growth rate of terms of trade, 1999–2012), but despite this godsend, the Bolivarian Revolution was not able to leverage it to grow the country's economy and slow down inflation.
In fact, Venezuela's poverty, inequality, and health has worsen under the Bolivarian term. Here are some KPIs:
Average annual GDP per capita growth: -3%. Source: World Bank.
Average annual inflation, 1999–2012: >25%. Source: World Bank.
Average annual % change in infant mortality rate, 1999–2012: -3.7%. Source: World Bank.
The middle-and-upper-class recognize this, while Maduro's illiterate supporters believe Venezuela is better compared to pre-Chávez past.
Sadly, the opposition party has not figured how to effectively communicate this to Maduro's followers in order to gain their support. They continue to do the same thing that hasn't worked for 15 years; trying to oust the 'President.'
Data can be difficult to interpret, but what's even harder is translating into simple terms so it can widespread. And when this happens, data becomes a problem.
The Venezuelan opposition party needs to change their empty rhetoric and level with pro-government compatriots. It needs a popular face. It needs a new voice. It needs to be more idealistic. It needs to start delivering on Chavez's missed promises.
Venezuela needs a leader who can sell a new dream to all Venezuelans; 'Oligarchs' and Bolivarians. A dream that's opposite to Venezuela's past, which is the same as the present. Venezuela desperately needs a vision for a better future for ALL. Without it, there is no moving forward.