World

After weeks of violent protests, beleaguered Venezuelan opposition, struggles to expand appeal

  • AP10ThingsToSee - A demonstrator protects himself with an old mattress during clashes with police during an anti-government protest in Valencia, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The protests began with students and were soon joined by others in several cities, upset over crime, economic problems and heavy-handed government response to the protests. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

    AP10ThingsToSee - A demonstrator protects himself with an old mattress during clashes with police during an anti-government protest in Valencia, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The protests began with students and were soon joined by others in several cities, upset over crime, economic problems and heavy-handed government response to the protests. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • National Bolivarian Guard officers advance toward anti-government protests in Valencia, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The protests began with students and were soon joined by others in several cities, upset over crime, economic problems and a heavy-handed government response to the protests. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

    National Bolivarian Guard officers advance toward anti-government protests in Valencia, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The protests began with students and were soon joined by others in several cities, upset over crime, economic problems and a heavy-handed government response to the protests. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)  (The Associated Press)

It's hard to find toilet paper or flour in Venezuela these days and the country has some of the highest inflation and murder rates in the world. Clashes between protesters and security forces loyal to the president have left 16 dead, and a telegenic opposition leader has been thrown in jail.

But don't expect a Ukraine-style street revolution anytime soon in the South American nation.

The frequently outmaneuvered opposition hasn't united behind a single strategy or managed to broaden its appeal beyond the largely middle-class, educated followers it's had on its side all along.

The man they are up against, President Nicolas Maduro, has a near-complete grip on the military, broadcast media and institutions from congress to the judiciary after 15 years of socialist rule.