Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.


Latin America & Caribbean


Opposition coalition rallied behind little-known presidential candidate Edmundo González, raising hopes for a more competitive election in July; U.S. partially revoked sanctions relief.

Opposition agreed on unity candidate. Opposition coalition Unitary Platform 19 April announced it had reached agreement to support candidacy of retired diplomat Edmundo González in July poll. Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales, whose Un Nuevo Tiempo party (Platform member) had registered his candidacy unilaterally, stood down in favour of González, while banned candidate María Corina Machado 20 April pledged her support. Fears that govt would move to ban González or Unitary Platform’s ticket (known as MUD) did not immediately materialise as govt, after delay, eventually allowed parties that had backed Rosales to formalise their change of candidate. Decision to rally behind González raised hopes for more competitive presidential election in July. Meanwhile, Colombian President Petro 17 April told Brazilian President Lula that he had proposed “plebiscite” between govt and opposition guaranteeing protection from political persecution for poll’s loser.

U.S. reimposed oil sanctions but stopped short of full snapback. U.S. 17 April announced it would not renew General Licence 44, under which Venezuela could sell oil and gas on open market, though its replacement, GL-44a, leaves open option of licences for individual companies to do business with state oil corporation PDVSA. U.S. argued Maduro govt had “not fully met the commitments” it made under Oct 2023 Barbados Agreement with opposition; in particular, it said govt had “prevented the democratic opposition from registering the candidate of their choice, harassed and intimidated political opponents, and unjustly detained numerous political actors and members of civil society”. President Maduro and his chief negotiator Jorge Rodríguez same day said Washington, not Caracas, had failed to fulfil commitments, with Maduro claiming U.S. had promised to lift all sanctions during talks. U.S. Ambassador Francisco Palmieri 23 April said Washington would “keep channels open” for further talks. 

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to open office in capital. President Maduro 23 April signed agreement allowing ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to open office in capital Caracas and invited UN human rights officials (expelled in Jan) to return to Venezuela; terms for their return have yet to be agreed.

Latin America & Caribbean


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.

Latin America & Caribbean


As presidential poll inched closer, crackdown deepened with arrest of prominent activist and expulsion of UN human rights monitors; govt prepared electoral timetable. 

Authorities detained high-profile activist. Security forces 9 Feb arrested lawyer and human rights activist Rocío San Miguel at airport in capital Caracas, holding her for over three days incommunicado. Chief Prosecutor Tarek W. Saab 12 Feb announced San Miguel had been charged with treason and terrorism in connection with alleged plot to assassinate President Maduro. Rights groups and international actors, including U.S., demanded her release. Arrest of San Miguel, a moderate who heads an NGO focused on defence and security, seen as govt message that dissent will not be tolerated. Meanwhile, discussions in govt-controlled National Assembly to restrict, or even eliminate, NGOs continued. 

Govt expelled UN human rights monitors in further sign of crackdown. FM Gil 15 Feb announced govt had given officials at Caracas office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) 72 hours to leave country. Decision came after OHCHR 13 Feb said San Miguel’s detention could amount to forced disappearance and called for her “immediate release”; Gil said comments violated Venezuela’s sovereignty and that office had become “private law firm of coup plotters and terrorist groups”. Expulsion bodes ill for govt cooperation with other outside monitors, including potential EU election observation mission for 2024 presidential vote. 

Govt held consultations on electoral calendar. Govt-controlled National Assembly 5-16 Feb held consultations with political parties, businesses, unions and others to suggest date for presidential election; opposition coalition Unitary Platform 4 Feb declined invitation, saying meeting contravened Oct 2023 govt-opposition Barbados Agreement, in which sides agreed to “jointly” present election authority with their proposal; it accused govt of planning election without adequate guarantees for free and fair vote. Consultations led to proposal 28 Feb that includes over twenty potential dates for poll; electoral authorities to finalise date in March. 

In other important developments. Tensions with Guyana continued over contested Essequibo, oil-rich region currently administered by Guyana, with Caracas reportedly bolstering troops near border and Georgetown receiving increased military assistance from Washington. Russian FM Lavrov 20 Feb visited Caracas to reaffirm ties.

Latin America & Caribbean


In blow to prospects for competitive election, Supreme Court upheld decision banning opposition’s candidate María Corina Machado from standing for office, while authorities cracked down on armed forces and civil society. 

Supreme Court reaffirmed opposition candidate’s ban from running for office. Despite govt-opposition agreement in Barbados in Oct 2023 to improve electoral conditions, govt-controlled Supreme Court 26 Jan upheld ban on opposition leader María Corina Machado’s candidacy, meaning she cannot run in 2024 presidential poll. Opposition coalition Unitary Platform dismissed decision as illegal and in breach of Barbados deal, while platform’s chief negotiator Gerardo Blyde appealed to presidents of France, Brazil and Colombia to convince Maduro to reverse it. EU and U.S. expressed deep concern, along with many of Venezuela’s neighbours; U.S. 29 Jan announced it will begin reinstating sanctions, having eased them following Barbados; govt next day called decision “blackmail”. 

Govt clamped down on security forces and civil society. Police 17 Jan raided office of teachers’ union in Barinas state (west) and arrested union leader Victor Venegas for alleged involvement in anti-govt conspiracy. Attorney General Tarek Saab 22 Jan announced authorities had arrested at least 32 civilians and former military personnel and issued warrants against eleven others for allegedly conspiring against govt in several different plots; govt claimed plans were backed by U.S. and implicated Machado. National Assembly 23 Jan approved law that could severely curtail activity and, in some instances, lead to closure of NGOs, sparking condemnation from civil society and human rights groups. 

Opposition prepared for 2024 elections despite uncertainty. Ahead of Supreme Court announcement, Machado 23 Jan announced alliance of political parties and civil society groups to organise electoral campaign and called on govt to announce exact date of poll. 

Caracas-Georgetown talks continued over disputed region. Govt and Guyana 25 Jan agreed to continue diplomatic efforts over contested Essequibo area, oil-rich region currently administered by Guyana, during talks in Brazilian capital Brasília.

Latin America & Caribbean


Relations with Guyana remained tense after Caracas’ December referendum on disputed territory; Maduro administration continued to stall full implementation of Barbados deal with opposition.

Relations with Guyana remained tense despite agreement to avoid hostile acts. Maduro govt 3 Dec held referendum on policy toward contested Essequibo area, oil-rich region administered by Guyana, with voters answering affirmatively to all five questions on ballot, including whether they support non-recognition of International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction and creation of new Venezuelan state in disputed territory. Govt subsequently claimed binding mandate resulting from poll, ratcheting up tensions with neighbour. Maduro and Guyanese President Irfaan Ali 14 Dec met in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines under auspices of CELAC and CARICOM regional bodies and with UN, Brazilian and Colombian representatives; parties agreed not to “threaten or use force” and to establish joint commission to mutually “address matters” and report within three months. UK 24 Dec announced its warship would visit Guyana 29-31 Dec, however, prompting Venezuela 28 Dec to hold military exercises near disputed waters.

Govt-opposition tensions simmered ahead of 2024 elections. Flare-up with Guyana distracted attention from govt’s slow implementation of 17 Oct Barbados Agreement with opposition, with some progress but also attacks on opposition. Notably, Chief Prosecutor Tarek W. Saab 6 Dec announced arrest warrants for a dozen opposition activists; accused included three members of opposition presidential candidate María Corina Machado’s team and Roberto Abdul, head of NGO that Machado founded and member of opposition Primary Commission; authorities reportedly held Abdul incommunicado. In attempt to compete in next year’s polls, Machado 15 Dec appealed to govt-controlled Supreme Court to overturn ban from running for office, despite previously saying she would not.

Washington and Caracas agreed prisoner swap. U.S. official Brian Nichols 5 Dec said Washington continued to engage with Caracas and reiterated threat to reimpose sanctions if more prisoners were not released and Barbados conditions not fulfilled. Govt and U.S. 20 Dec announced prisoner swap, exchanging ten jailed Americans for Maduro ally Alex Saab, who was awaiting trial on money laundering charges; agreement also saw Abdul and twenty other Venezuelans released.

Latin America & Caribbean


Fallout from govt’s suspension of opposition primary results continued, and tensions with Guyana ran high over Caracas’ upcoming referendum on disputed territory.

Govt-opposition tensions simmered over ban on presidential candidate. Tensions persisted over Supreme Court’s 30 Oct decision to suspend results of opposition primary, which María Corina Machado – currently banned from running for office – won in landslide victory. Govt-controlled Supreme Court in same ruling described bans on politicians as “firm”, fuelling concerns govt will not allow fair vote in 2024 poll; U.S. official Juan González 8 Nov said in interview with Colombian television that Washington would take steps to snapback sanctions, provisionally lifted 18 Oct following govt-opposition agreement in Barbados, if Maduro administration did not lift ban by end of month; in sign of slight easing tensions, govt and opposition joint statement 30 Nov said barred candidates would be able to appeal against bans 1-15 Dec. Earlier, govt’s chief negotiator and National Assembly president Jorge Rodríguez 17 Nov said govt would not accept “ultimatums from anyone”. EU, meanwhile, 13 Nov extended individual sanctions until May 2024; Rodríguez next day said govt would not invite EU to monitor elections while sanctions persist.

Tensions with Guyana escalated over disputed region. Tensions between Georgetown and Caracas spiked as latter prepared for 3 Dec referendum on contested Essequibo area, oil-rich region currently administered by Guyana. Plebiscite will ask Venezuelans if they agree to reject International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) jurisdiction over region, create state called Guayana Esequiba and grant its population Venezuelan citizenship. Guyana continued to protest referendum, claiming Maduro govt seeks to use vote to justify region’s “annexation”. U.S. defence officials 27-28 Nov visited country to “deepen partnership”.

Latin America & Caribbean


In crucial step toward competitive presidential poll, govt and opposition reached deal to improve electoral conditions, leading to substantial U.S. sanctions relief.

Govt and opposition struck deal to improve electoral conditions. Maduro govt and group of opposition parties known as Unitary Platform reached agreement in Barbados on minimum conditions for 2024 presidential poll. Notably, agreement fixes vote for unspecified date in second half of 2024, includes update of electoral registry and commits govt-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) to invite international ‘technical’ observation missions including from EU, UN and AU. Text says parties will promote “authorisation” of all candidates and political parties as long as they “meet requirements to participate in the presidential elections”; govt’s chief negotiator Jorge Rodríguez immediately interpreted clause as stating banned candidates cannot run, which would rule out opposition candidate (see below).

Washington provided ample sanctions relief. Welcoming agreement, U.S. 18 Oct issued broad authorisation of transactions involving Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold sectors, and removed ban on secondary trading of certain Venezuelan sovereign bonds, as well as debt and equity issued by state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela oil company. License lifting sanctions on oil and gas sector issued for six months, with Washington promising to renew it if Caracas complies with electoral agreement and releases U.S. and Venezuelan prisoners. Govt same day released five political prisoners.

María Corina Machado won opposition primary, govt later suspended results. Opposition 22 Oct held primary to select candidate for presidential election. Hardline politician María Corina Machado, currently banned from running for office, won overwhelmingly with 93% of vote after several prominent candidates pulled out of race in weeks before. Turnout was greater than expected, lending legitimacy to Machado’s candidacy for presidential election. Govt officials, however, alleged primary had been fraudulent and 24 Oct said opposition had inflated voter turnout; Attorney General Tarek William Saab next day announced criminal investigation into primary’s organisers. Govt-controlled Supreme Court 30 Oct suspended results of primary and ordered organisers to hand over all materials related to process; U.S. same day warned it would take action if govt fails to uphold commitments under electoral roadmap.

Latin America & Caribbean


Govt-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) offered support for upcoming primary, sharpening disagreements among opposition parties; govt, opposition and U.S held closed-door talks aimed at improving electoral conditions.

CNE offer to provide support for primary sowed confusion within opposition. Process for opposition primary, due to be held on 22 Oct to select single nominee for 2024 presidential election, continued to face challenges. Notably, opposition parties disagreed on how to proceed if banned candidate, such as Frontrunner María Corina Machado, wins primary; Machado continued to insist that she will not cede candidacy if victorious, raising prospect of intra-opposition squabbling over result. Former vice-president of primary commission María Carolina Uzcátegui 7 Sept said conditions were not in place for successful election and urged opposition to consider accepting CNE involvement. Adding to confusion around process, CNE 22 Sept offered to provide technical/logistical support; primary organisers 25 Sept said they would consider accepting. CNE 28 Sept proposed postponement of vote to 19 Nov. Machado and others continued to oppose idea of CNE involvement, saying it favours President Maduro; Machado also rejected delay to vote. Meanwhile, govt continued to attack primary, 7 Sept launching investigation into its financing.

Efforts to push through deal on electoral conditions continued. Amid growing concern about competitiveness of 2024 elections, several closed-door meetings between govt and opposition, closely monitored by Washington, took place during month, aimed at reaching deal on sanctions relief in exchange for improved electoral conditions. Details unclear but bans on leading opposition politicians reportedly remained key stumbling block: U.S. argues that Maduro cannot choose his electoral opponent by eliminating other candidates, while govt insists Machado’s support for U.S. intervention in Venezuela precludes her from being allowed to run.

Govt deepened ties with China. Maduro 8 Sept arrived in China for official visit; President Maduro and Chinese President Xi Jinping 13 Sept signed bilateral cooperation agreements in areas including economy, trade and tourism.

Latin America & Caribbean


Opposition candidates competing in Oct primary kicked off their campaigns as authorities announced new National Electoral Council; govt saw progress and setbacks in court rulings on foreign assets.

Campaigning for opposition primary kicked off. Candidates 22 Aug began campaigning for opposition primary on 22 Oct to select single nominee for 2024 presidential election. Primary process continued to encounter obstacles, however, with no clarity from govt about location of voting centres opposition will be able to use, raising concerns about voters’ ability to cast ballots. Opposition candidates also faced threats. Notably, Attorney General Tarek Saab 13 Aug launched investigation into death threats against primary candidate Delsa Solórzano, including one that referenced murdered Ecuadorean presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio (see Ecuador); and reported govt supporters 15 Aug violently dispersed campaign event of Henrique Capriles in Apure state (west), injuring ten. Meanwhile, National Assembly 24 Aug appointed new National Electoral Council headed by govt loyalist Elvis Amoroso, which signalled govt’s unwillingness to allow competitive presidential race.

Govt won lawsuit to recover frozen assets from Portuguese bank. Govt 9 Aug announced it had won legal battle to release $1.5bn in state assets from Portuguese bank, which were frozen in 2019 following imposition by U.S. and other countries of sanctions on govt; Venezuela 16 Aug petitioned U.S. Supreme Court to overturn U.S. judge’s late July ruling, criticised by govt and opposition, which set Oct start date for auction of shares of Venezuela-owned refiner Citgo Petroleum’s parent company to pay off creditors.

Dismissal of Red Cross chief in Venezuela sparked condemnation. Supreme Court 4 Aug dismissed President of Venezuelan Red Cross Mario Enrique Villarroel and ordered organisational restructuring after VP of ruling United Socialist Party accused Villarroel of “mafia activity” and conspiring against govt; international and domestic NGOs criticised move while Red Cross 9 Aug said “any state intervention in our National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies raises serious concerns regarding their independence”. Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International 29 Aug published report accusing govt of using arbitrary detentions as tool of repression.

Latin America & Caribbean


As Maduro govt further harmed prospects for competitive 2024 poll, international actors stepped up efforts to reach deal on improving electoral conditions in return for sanctions relief.

Trend toward unfair presidential vote in 2024 persisted. International actors continued to condemn govt’s late June announcement that opposition front runner María Corina Machado is barred from candidacy in 2024 presidential election; U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 6 July said Caracas could take number of steps toward free and fair vote but that Machado’s disqualification “sends the opposite message”. In another worrying move, National Assembly president and chief govt negotiator Jorge Rodríguez 13 July said there would be no European Union (EU) electoral observation mission during polls; decision significant as EU observers’ presence was key condition for opposition’s participation in 2021 regional and local elections. Opposition Voluntad Popular party 27 July said govt confiscated passport of its candidate Freddy Superlano as he attempted to travel to Colombia.

Efforts to push through U.S.-Venezuela deal on electoral conditions ramped up. Amid growing concern about competitiveness of elections, several meetings between govt, opposition and international actors in July raised hopes of a deal that would see govt improve electoral conditions; in return, Washington would ease sanctions and provide guarantees for transfer of Venezuelan assets frozen abroad to UN-managed fund to finance improvements in public services. Opposition’s chief negotiator Gerardo Blyde 10-13 July visited U.S. to discuss deal; French President Emmanuel Macron 17 July organised meeting between Blyde and VP Delcy Rodríguez on sidelines of EU-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) summit in Brussels, attended by presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Colombia; post-meeting statement highlighted need for negotiated solution and confirmed broad details of U.S.-Venezuela deal to improve electoral conditions.

In another important development. Former head of military intelligence Hugo Carvajal 19 July arrived in U.S. to face drug charges after being extradited from Spain; Washington accuses Carvajal of trafficking along with other senior officials, including President Maduro.

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