In recent weeks, Venezuela has been convulsed by its biggest series of protests since the attempted coup d’état of then-President Hugo Chavez in 2002. Although sporadic protests against President Nicolas Maduro had continued since the April 2013 election, which saw opposition candidate Henrique Capriles narrowly defeated by Chavez’s hand-picked successor in elections marred by allegations of fraud, the opposition was reenergized by frustration over the regime’s failure to provide for the basic needs of its citizens. Shortages of essential goods, a crackdown on press freedom and a high violent crime rate, highlighted by the January murder of actress and former Miss Venezuela Mónica Spear, prompted a new wave of protests.

The regime’s harsh response to initial demonstrations has further stoked protests. But approaches to how to respond to the government’s crackdown has, at the same time, divided the opposition – illustrating the tough choices it faces between trying to push its advantage, on the one hand, or pushing for pragmatic concessions on the other. This choice comes as some in the opposition have taken to Twitter, especially given the media restrictions imposed by Maduro, to call for the outright ouster of the embattled president with the hashtag “#LaSalida” (the exit).

In both its confrontational attitude, and its urban, tech savvy nature, Venezuela’s opposition mirrors recent protest movements in countries such as Ukraine, Thailand and Egypt. In these countries, opposition groups, frustrated by the state’s failure to provide for the basic needs of its citizens, have taken to the streets in major cities, where they can put significant pressure on leaders due to the relative ease of mobilizing in dense urban areas.

In recent weeks, Venezuela has been convulsed by its biggest series of protests since the attempted coup d’état of then-President Hugo Chavez in 2002. Although sporadic protests against President Nicolas Maduro had continued since the April 2013 election, which saw opposition candidate Henrique Capriles narrowly defeated by Chavez’s hand-picked successor in elections marred by allegations of fraud, the opposition was reenergized by frustration over the regime’s failure to provide for the basic needs of its citizens. Shortages of essential goods, a crackdown on press freedom and a high violent crime rate, highlighted by the January murder of actress and former Miss Venezuela Mónica Spear, prompted a new wave of protests.

The regime’s harsh response to initial demonstrations has further stoked protests. But approaches to how to respond to the government’s crackdown has, at the same time, divided the opposition – illustrating the tough choices it faces between trying to push its advantage, on the one hand, or pushing for pragmatic concessions on the other. This choice comes as some in the opposition have taken to Twitter, especially given the media restrictions imposed by Maduro, to call for the outright ouster of the embattled president with the hashtag “#LaSalida” (the exit).

In both its confrontational attitude, and its urban, tech savvy nature, Venezuela’s opposition mirrors recent protest movements in countries such as Ukraine, Thailand and Egypt. In these countries, opposition groups, frustrated by the state’s failure to provide for the basic needs of its citizens, have taken to the streets in major cities, where they can put significant pressure on leaders due to the relative ease of mobilizing in dense urban areas.

Some in the opposition, however, have recognized some of the potential drawbacks of this approach. Maduro, whose populist policies and rhetoric serve to shore up support among a largely impoverished political base, points to his election as well as the unrest of some of the protests in order to frame the opposition as undemocratic. And the opposition’s middle-class image, reinforced by protests taking place in more affluent neighborhoods, can too easily play into the chavista narrative.

But as Ukraine struggles to move forward with consolidating its democratic institutions in the wake of its own street movement, the Venezuelan opposition has an opportunity to think beyond twitter slogans and rally behind a list of concrete demands in order to undermine the chavista narrative that opponents of Maduro’s leadership are “fascists” simply seeking to put power “back in the hands of the elite.” In the most basic sense, this tension plays out in the differences between two of the most prominent opposition leaders, Henrique Capriles, the former presidential candidate and current Governor of the state of Miranda, and Leopoldo López, a charismatic former mayor of the Chacao municipality of Caracas who rose to prominence in protest movements in 2002 and 2007.

After alleging fraud in the election he narrowly lost to Maduro, Capriles publicly shook the new president’s hand at a meeting in January, a move that did not sit well with many opposition supporters. Capitalizing on this, López reemerged as the opposition’s most prominent leader. Then, after Maduro issued a warrant for his arrest, López turned himself over to police last week in a masterfully orchestrated spectacle, disappearing into a military vehicle defiantly clutching a Venezuelan flag and a white flower — a symbol of the opposition — while surrounded by thousands of supporters. Before his anticipated arrest, he called for peaceful demonstrations to continue, demanding Maduro’s resignation but no other concrete reforms.

Despite his fateful handshake with Maduro, Capriles has been careful not to sow divisions within the opposition, opting out of a proposed meeting with the president and downplaying differences between the jailed López and himself. Urging a unified opposition, he also presented a list of demands, among them the release of López and other political prisoners, disarming pro-government paramilitary groups, and the formation of a bipartisan truth commission to investigate the recent killings of protestors.

Nor did Capriles explicitly call for Maduro to step down, although he did suggest that if the president could not solve the problems gripping Venezuela, “then it’s time to go.” He also acknowledged that the opposition needs to shed its affluent image in order to gain broader appeal, noting that “it’s in the government’s interest for the protests to be in Altamira [a middle-class neighborhood of Caracas] and not in Catia [a poorer neighborhood].”

The question now is whether an increasingly empowered opposition will be willing to accept any compromise solution that Maduro could offer. There is precedence for cooperation between López and Capriles — the former dropped out of the 2012 elections to endorse the latter’s presidential bid — and it will take just that kind of cooperation to help Venezuela achieve some degree of détente. If the opposition succeeds in ushering in more robust democracy, the country could provide an important example to similarly polarized states around the world.