Not Even ‘Maduristas’ Showed Up To Celebrate Maduro’s Inauguration

On the day of his “inauguration” the streets around the TSJ weren’t even half full. Caracas traffic didn’t collapse because of hundreds of buses, like we saw during chavismo’s golden years. Some people were honest about being there for the free food, others weren’t sure about questions of legitimacy.

Photo: The Day, retrieved.

Maduro didn’t fill more than six blocks of the Baralt Avenue, where the country’s top court stands and where he was sworn into office for a second term. I saw long faces and uncertainty among his followers while I walked through the avenue. He may have managed to make the Armed Forces ratify their support for him, but he garnered international and national hatred.

Nicolás Maduro first constitutional term ended with shame: a hyperinflation of 1,698,488%; a migration crisis that has affected the entire region and the general collapse of all public services.

The crisis was obvious this Thursday when, disregarding the National Constitution and clinging to the Plan for the Nation, he was sworn in as President of the Republic before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) and before Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, as if he needed all national institutions to recognize him with absolute support.

He may have managed to make the Armed Forces ratify their support for him, but he garnered international and national hatred.

Maduro lost the streets, but he still covered them with banners saying #YoSoyPresidente. He mobilized public servants and communal councils who are still blinded by the revolution. However, among his alleged followers there was no joy, no trucks with their huge speakers loudly playing songs in honor of the late Hugo Chávez, no parties or alcohol; there weren’t even workers who could pick up the food packs left by those who ate in the street after the rally.

Some people did dance to the beat of the drums, but later, they turned their backs on the event which was broadcasted live from several points of downtown Caracas.

This time, there was no chaos in the city’s main avenues with buses brought from the interior. The government did hire some buses (those still operational after the automotive fleet was ravaged by economic controls that vanished tires, batteries and spare parts) but it was a feeble muscle, as compared to chavismo’s strong years, when the amount of buses was overwhelming.

“Maduro comes through with the country,” could be read in one of the signs crossing the Universidad Avenue, which was closed off so the followers could march.

“I’m with the revolution, that was Chávez’s command, for Maduro to be there. Now he has to improve the country’s situation and end the economic war,” said Carlos Colmenares, a 65-year-old man.

Another man, who was at La Gorda corner, watching the caravan of bikers pass, said “I didn’t like how Maduro ruled, but who else are we going to put there? I hope he does it better.”

At Puente Llaguno, it was clear that most people in attendance were there only to sign the roll, eat and leave.

“We’re going to the Tribunal.”

“Why? We’re getting food here. Then we go.”

Nicolás Maduro has a new package of economic measures under his sleeve and that doesn’t sound good, even for the least informed.

There was no celebration this Thursday. Even among government supporters, it was common to see dismayed, uncertain faces. Nicolás Maduro has a new package of economic measures under his sleeve and that doesn’t sound good, even for the least informed.

He spoke for one hour and a half before the justices, government officials and the diplomatic delegations of six nations, although according to him, 94 countries support him. His words were unable to catch the attention of those who were trying to follow his rhythm outside in the open.

“The prices are going up like crazy. Maduro has to stop this. He can’t keep playing with the people anymore,” said a lady clad in a ministry uniform.

Whether he’s an usurper, not many people knew for sure: “This is his second term, he was elected in May,” said a man watching the flags pass from the Sociedad corner, including those of the LGBTQ movement that support the regime.

This time, nobody was selling socialist memorabilia; the water tanks that were usually set along the avenues for people to get some refreshment weren’t there, further driving the point that there were no “people” behind the act.

A couple of days ago, armed groups roamed the streets of Caracas inviting everyone to join Maduro this Thursday. They said they’d set up key points at the Bolívar Square but they didn’t. The space was almost empty. There were a few elderly citizens at the so-called esquina caliente, watching the ceremony on TV without paying much attention to the speech of Chávez’s heir.

After 2:00 p.m., there were increasingly less red shirts and caps. Those who arrived from Maracaibo, Bolívar and Los Llanos returned to their buses. Those who lived in Caracas took the subway or walked to get to their destinations.

In bus stops, nobody was talking about the event, who was attended only by few citizens. A co-opted military and international condemnation was all that remained.

Mabel Sarmiento

Mabel Sarmiento is an UCAB-trained journalist with more than 20 years' experience covering community news, the environment, health, education and infrastructure.