In recent years Venezuela’s political and economic implosion has become a major headache for much of Latin America. Regional governments should seek to find common ground and coordinate their efforts with the EU’s International Contact Group to push for a negotiated transition.
Political crisis continued as govt cracked down on opposition in wake of failed April uprisings, while divisions in opposition resurfaced over whether to negotiate with govt. Following opposition leader and “interim President” Juan Guaidó’s unsuccessful 30 April appeal to security forces to remove President Maduro, opposition supporters 1 May held further anti-govt demonstrations in Caracas and elsewhere; demonstrators clashed with security forces, with one woman shot dead and dozens injured. Guaidó promised further protests and series of strikes. State security (Sebin) 8 May detained deputy president of opposition controlled-National Assembly. Pro-govt National Constituent Assembly (ANC) revoked parliamentary immunity of at least fourteen MPs; four MPs took refuge in embassies, one fled country and four allegedly went into hiding; govt suppression has led to arrest, flight or refuge in foreign embassies of 15 of opposition’s 112 MPs since 30 April uprising. Maduro 20 May announced plan to bring forward parliamentary (AN) elections, previously due Dec 2020; govt same day extended ANC’s two-year term until 31 Dec 2020. In efforts to open negotiations to end crisis, govt and opposition representations met in Oslo for confidential talks facilitated by Norway mid-May; talks ended 29 May, reportedly without agreement. Some in opposition criticised talks after details were leaked. Guaidó admitted authorising delegation but insisted there would be no negotiations unless Maduro stepped down. International Contact Group, headed by EU and Uruguay, extended its mandate beyond original 90-day deadline during meeting in Costa Rica 6-7 May, and visited Caracas 16-17 May, meeting with Maduro and Guaidó. Effect of U.S. sanctions and economic crisis continued to be felt with severe petrol shortages in much of country mid-May, including in Caracas.
Across swathes of southern Venezuela, army units, Colombian guerrillas and crime syndicates jostle for control over gold mines funnelling hard currency to President Nicolás Maduro’s government. Outside powers should stop considering military intervention and instead help broker a peaceful transition in Venezuela, lest chaos ensue.
As Venezuela’s socio-economic woes deepen, so do the fissures in the opposition to President Nicolás Maduro’s government. Bridging these rifts is vital if the country’s crisis is to end through a negotiated transition. Outside powers should back opposition unity and stop hinting at military intervention.
Venezuela’s socio-economic implosion is dragging in neighbours as hundreds of thousands of people flee the country, epidemics spread and violent crime spills over borders. International humanitarian support is needed and regional powers should push for a negotiated transition, including through threats of targeted sanctions.
Economic mismanagement, corruption and dwindling reserves have forced Venezuela into penury and now into missed payments and partial default on its debts. Full-scale, internationally supervised negotiations involving a restored parliament are essential to pave the way to a debt restructuring and a free, fair presidential election.
Violence is escalating in Venezuela, killing 70 people in over two months of ever-angrier popular protests against a government that is abandoning representative democracy. Regional states should avert a humanitarian catastrophe by pressuring the Maduro regime to withdraw plans to elect a phony constituent assembly on 30 July.
Maduro is essentially calling Trump’s bluff. Maduro has essentially concluded that the military option is a very remote possibility.
The Maduro team doesn’t want to talk to [the opposition] and doesn’t trust them. They think they will all end up in jail or strung up from lampposts.
[Miners in Venezuela] are severely at risk of being shot dead: Mining communities have phenomenally high homicide rates, even by the extraordinary high levels that we see in the rest of Venezuela.
People [in Venezuela] are moving to the countryside because you can more or less survive if you have a small plot of land and access to your own produce.
Increased prices can be charged to [Venezuelan] migrants because of their sheer desire to cross [the border to reach Colombia].
The prognosis [for Venezuela in] 2018 is further deterioration, humanitarian emergency, and an increased exodus of Venezuelans. Sustained domestic and international pressure will be required.
Originally published in The Guardian
A failed uprising by Venezuelan National Assembly Chair Juan Guaidó has emboldened President Nicolás Maduro and deepened the country's political deadlock. However difficult, outside actors should continue to press the two sides to form a transitional cabinet, stabilise Venezuela’s economy and hold elections.
Originally published in Foreign Affairs
Venezuela’s constitutional crisis continues to unfold, with the opposition amassing food and medicine on the borders with the stated intent of turning the military against President Nicolás Maduro, who is refusing the aid. In this Q&A, our Senior Analyst for Venezuela Phil Gunson explains the standoff.