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CrisisWatch Venezuela

Unchanged Situation

President Maduro consolidated power with inauguration of new National Assembly. Newly-elected lawmakers – in their vast majority supporters of ruling socialist party – 5 Jan took office and elected Maduro’s key ally Jorge Rodríguez as assembly’s president. Assembly 7 Jan approved creation of special commission for dialogue, peace and national reconciliation, along with another special commission in charge of investigating alleged wrongdoing by 2016-2021 National Assembly headed by Juan Guaidó. Ruling-party legislators late Jan asked attorney general to prohibit Guaidó and 20 other opposition leaders from leaving country. Disagreements over strategy and decision-making continued to plague mainstream opposition. In virtual plenary of 2016-2021 assembly 5 Jan, Democratic Action, largest party in Guaidó’s coalition, opposed creation of Political Council to oversee Delegate Commission, made up of 20 legislators in charge of assembly’s functions; Democratic Action had abstained from approving creation of Delegate Commission in Dec. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 6 Jan rejected newly-elected assembly, but stopped short of endorsing opposition’s argument that Guaidó-led assembly remains country’s legitimate parliament; while European Parliament 21 Jan issued resolution calling on EU Council to recognise Guaidó as country’s legitimate interim president, EU member states 25 Jan said Guaidó was part of democratic opposition. Outgoing U.S. administration 19 Jan imposed sanctions on three individuals, 14 entities and six vessels for contributing “to evade U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector”; same day deferred for 18 months removal of Venezuelan nationals from U.S. Following U.S. President Biden’s inauguration 20 Jan, Maduro 23 Jan called for “new path” in Venezuela-U.S. relations. Meanwhile, govt stepped up harassment of independent media and NGOs. Notably, pro-govt media and authorities early Jan accused journalists of news website Efecto Cocuyo and others of taking money from UK govt to act as anti-govt “mercenaries”; authorities 12 Jan arrested five employees of HIV-prevention NGO Blue Positive on charges of criminal association and money laundering. Tensions flared up with Guyana over disputed oil-rich maritime territory (see Guyana).

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

7 Dec 2020
Unless he [Guaidó] is able to reinvent himself in some way, I think the Guaidó plan has clearly failed. The Guardian

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
11 Aug 2020
[Venezuela's] health service had collapsed long before sanctions were imposed. Foreign Policy

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
7 Jul 2020
[The Venezuelan Government] want[s] to make it quite clear that Guaidó is history. Minneapolis Star Tribune

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
12 Apr 2020
If there's mass social unrest [in Venezuela] they are not really in a position to control it and I think that's the government's nightmare scenario. BBC News

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
4 Apr 2020
What the [Venezuelan] regime is facing now is much more grave than they’ve ever faced before. BloombergQuint

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
31 Mar 2020
If the virus were to take off in Venezuela, and the country were not to receive a huge injection of international support, it would face an absolute disaster. The Guadian

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean

Latest Updates

Venezuela’s Opposition Is Clinging to a Failed Strategy

Opposition politicians in Venezuela face a difficult set of choices. But the sooner they face up to them, the sooner Venezuela can begin to tackle the enormous challenges of a much-needed political transition and economic reconstruction.

Originally published in World Politics Review

Latin America’s Tough Year Ahead

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh, Richard Atwood and Ivan Briscoe, Crisis Group’s Latin America Director, talk about COVID-19’s devastation, polarisation and populism in the region, as well as the Venezuela crisis and violence in Mexico.

Podcast / United States

U.S. Sanctions: An Overused Foreign Policy Tool?

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh and Richard Atwood discuss the “maximum pressure” sanctions that the U.S. has imposed upon Iran and Venezuela. Their guests are Crisis Group’s experts on these two countries, Ali Vaez and Phil Gunson.

Venezuela Court Rulings Bury Hopes of a Fair Poll

The Maduro government’s latest power play – in which loyalist judges appointed the board that will oversee end-of-year elections – is evidence to many in the Venezuelan opposition that talking is fruitless. But negotiations remain the only route to a stable outcome for the country’s protracted crisis.

Also available in Español

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Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes