Venezuela

Venezuela is in the midst of a tense political standoff and socio-economic meltdown, with hyperinflation, violent crime, political repression and food shortages pushing nearly six million citizens to flee the country. Incumbent President Nicolás Maduro has grabbed power for the executive and dismantled democratic checks and balances, triggering moves backed by the U.S. and allies to unseat him and install an interim president. A negotiated restoration of legitimate and representative state institutions as well as urgent economic reform are vital if the country is to resolve the political crisis peacefully and reduce mass emigration. Crisis Group aims to engage national, Latin American and international players to build momentum for talks, strengthen human rights protections and help restore the rule of law.

CrisisWatch Venezuela

Deteriorated Situation

Authorities blocked opposition coalition from registering their banned candidate or her replacement in bid to clear field of President Maduro’s strongest opponents for presidential poll. 

Authorities blocked opposition from registering candidate for election. Govt-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) 5 March announced presidential poll would be held 28 July, resulting in election timetable compressed into under five months. Candidates 21-25 March registered their candidacy, leading to frenzied negotiations within opposition. Main opposition candidate María Corina Machado and opposition coalition Unitary Platform 22 March jointly announced that retired academic Corina Yoris would replace Machado as opposition’s unity candidate after govt refused to lift ban on her candidacy. Yet CNE, which had already annulled all but two of Unitary Platform’s parties, blocked Corina from registering, sparking outcry from opposition; move laid bare threat Machado and her substitute posed to Maduro if allowed to run. 

Opposition party within coalition unilaterally registered their candidate. CNE 26 March announced that Manuel Rosales, whose Un Nuevo Tiempo is one of Unitary Platform’s four main parties, had registered his candidacy; Rosales perceived as lesser threat to Maduro’s re-election prospects. Opposition negotiator Stalin González 26 March justified decision, saying opposition’s abstentionism in past polls had “left Venezuelans without an option”. Next day, however, Unitary Platform managed to register retired diplomat Edmundo González as placeholder unity candidate; substitution permitted until 20 April. Meanwhile, President Maduro 25 March registered his candidacy alongside a dozen others, many of whom are allied with govt or suspected of acting in its interests.

International community condemned govt. Regional govts, including oft-discreet Colombia and Brazil, and U.S. 26 March expressed concern about situation. U.S. set to decide by 18 April whether to snapback sanctions on oil and gas sectors in light of Maduro’s violations of govt-opposition agreement in Barbados, though re-imposition may be delayed or partial. 

In another important development. Lawmakers 21 March approved creation of new Venezuelan state in disputed Essequibo area, oil-rich region administered by Guyana, as govt used issue to foment nationalist sentiment; law also allows candidates for elected office to be barred for not supporting Venezuela’s claim.

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In The News

11 Dec 2022
El Gobierno de Maduro [en Venezuela] tiene un interés en dar algunas concesiones desde el punto de vista político y electoral. El paìs

Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor
3 Nov 2022
[Venezuelan President Maduro] can use repression and fraud to stay in power. But I think he would far rather win a relatively clean election. NPR

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes

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Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor
Mariano de Alba

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
Phil Gunson

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