Trump’s Legacy for Venezuela? The Rise of the Magazolanos

Nov 12, 2020
11:20 AM

President Donald Trump welcomes Juan Guaidó to the White House, Wednesday, February 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

MADRID — When it comes to Venezuela, Donald Trump has been a very active U.S. president. His administration extended Obama sanctions against president Nicolás Maduro and other high-ranking government members. Trump also backed Juan Guaidó as the country’s caretaker president in a desperate maneuver by the opposition-led legislature to not be revoked by Maduro and his constituent assembly.

However, with Maduro still in power —albeit discredited to most of the international community— and Guaidó struggling to keep relevancy among the infighting of a weakened opposition, Trump’s true legacy for the country seems to be another: the radicalization of a faction of Venezuelans, labeled by the rest of their fellow nationals as “Magazolanos.”

Venezuelan journalist and Trump supporter Orlando Avendaño made his case on an August piece at Panampost titled “Magazolanos, Unite:”

“About Venezuela, there are no gray areas. That’s why I find so fucking subservient the position of Venezuelans who, in anticipation of the November election, are betting on a Democratic Party to earn the respect of their lefty friends from foreign universities and post on Instagram the shallow support for the latest social cause.”

Avendaño goes on to blame the leadership of mainstream opposition parties to waste the support given by the Trump administration, defending the president:

“[Some] came up with the idea that Donald Trump was never a true ally of our cause and that it was just a political ploy. They call… those of us who go beyond the collective emotional irrationality and recognize the strategic value of our allies, Magazolanos.”

However, a look into some high-profile Venezuelan defenders of Donald Trump show more of an emotional than a rational response to the president and the U.S. election:

“Trump is not only one of the best presidents in US history, he’s the biggest representation of real conservative nationalism that we have had in modern history, this is why this struggle HAS to matter to EVERY conservative in any corner of the world.”

“Socialism and destruction (Biden) are winning at this moment.

God Father Almighty, we ask you to revert Michigan in Trump’s favor again. We beg you. The world doesn’t need socialism but to come closer to You. And Venezuela also needs Trump to win.”


“It seems plausible that the ‘Chinese virus’ was a strategy to promote the ‘mail-in ballot’ and commit the biggest fraud in the history of humanity. I believe the ‘lefties’ are capable of anything. They plotted a coup against the best U.S. president since Lincoln.”

Political scientist María Puerta Riera explained on a Twitter thread the origin of the Magazolanos: “The obsession Venezuelans have with U.S. policy, and more specifically, with Trump is a response to its political orphanage.” She added that “it’s not just that Trump has taken measures, with dubious effective results, but he has also shown interest in recognizing Venezuelans.”

Puerta Riera argued that coming from a fragmented and abused society under an authoritarian regime, the constant disappointment and disconnection with the leadership of the country’s political class brought this faction of Venezuelans to look over Trump’s flaws to feel they have someone on their side. Indeed, most Magazolanos seem to label Hugo Chávez, Maduro, their followers, all the democratic presidents before them, Guaidó, Leopoldo López, Henrique Capriles and virtually all of the mainstream opposition as “socialists” and “sellouts” who play political ploys and prolong the suffering of the common people.

The idea of the Magazolano isn’t new. For a long time it was a nebulous, aimless character living on the far-right fringe of the Venezuelan opposition, where most of the mainstream parties are —at least nominally— center to center-left. Opposition-aligned satirical website El Chigüire Bipolar lampooned this figure in the late 2000’s with María Alejandra López, a racist, upper-middle class resident of a gated community in eastern Caracas who believes in conspiracy theories and fanatically follows just about anyone who promises the demise of Chavismo. On her last appearance on the website so far, she married a tweet by Marcos Rubio.

However, with the country’s collapse becoming one of the most pressing issues in the region the last decade, the use of Venezuela as an abstract rhetorical device rather than a real-life crisis, with all its complexities, rose among the conservatives. The fringe group, redeemed by the failures of the mainstream opposition, grew in size and outreach and shaped up its narrative: Venezuela was a lost cause until a certain New Yorker got elected into the White House who has a quick, swift solution. He didn’t lose interest and moved on, as John Bolton writes in his White House memoir, while Guaidó and the rest of mainstream parties didn’t demand a bigger involvement from the U.S. government.

What is true is that, according to exit polls by the New York Times, one out of three Latino voters supported Donald Trump and there are almost 500,000 Venezuelans in the United States, with more than half of them residing in Florida. First and second generation Venezuelans make up only 2% of the statewide Latino vote, though their eligibility has grown 182% from 2008 to 2018, according to the Pew Research Center.

This has been acknowledged by the Trump campaign, with the Miami suburb of Doral —the hub of the Venezuelan community in the U.S.— hosting a Latinos for Trump rally with the presence of iconic performer Lila Morillo:

Nonetheless, Magazolanos don’t represent all of the community. As one journalist said: “Today social media is flooded by celebratory messages by Venezuelans, when just a bit before it seemed there was a Magazolana hegemony. Truly many were afraid to share their opinions because of the Trumpista mob.”

Meanwhile in Florida, the Venezolanos Con Biden campaign drew heavily on comparisons between Donald Trump and Hugo Chávez as populist strongmen. The WinJustice PAC even had one highway billboard put up in Miami metro:

Joe Biden’s victory brings the expectation of change and the fear of a return to the status quo, where paying lip service to the Venezuelan crisis was more than enough. The new president, who has shown support to Guaidó and TPS for Venezuelans, has promised that he will “unite and heal” the United States.

However, it remains to be seen what Biden will do with the pain and divisions that have deepened over the last four years when it comes to Venezuela.


José González Vargas is a Venezuelan journalist who has written for several outlets, including Latino USA, Latino Rebels, Caracas Chronicles and Into. He tweets from @Maxmordon.