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

Unchanged Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Tensions mounted in run-up to July presidential poll as Maduro govt, unwilling to relinquish power, continued to manipulate electoral conditions; outright fraud remains possible.

Opposition candidate’s wide lead in polls raised concerns about govt response. As July presidential poll drew closer, most credible polling organisations gave opposition coalition Unitary Platform’s candidate Edmundo González large lead over President Maduro. Delphos pollster Félix Seijas 4 June cautioned that his surveys show Maduro with “ceiling” of around 30% of vote (20 points behind González), meaning govt’s focus will likely be on discouraging opposition voter participation in order to win. This may require drastic steps, such as ban of Unitary Platform’s ticket and/or González’ candidacy, which would likely throw opposition into disarray. Manipulation of electoral conditions means most likely outcome of poll is victory for Maduro who, along with seven other candidates, 20 June signed agreement to respect results; González refused. In this event, protests are likely following announcement of results, though govt previously vowed to respond harshly, which could shrink their size.

Authorities reduced external election observation. Atop these risks, electoral authorities’ (CNE) late-May cancellation of EU electoral observation mission further indicated govt will prioritise winning poll over recovering international recognition and sanctions relief; opposition-linked CNE member Juan Carlos Delpino 11 June said council president made decision unilaterally, likely on instructions of National Assembly president Jorge Rodríguez; Delpino added that CNE had not met since March. NGO Carter Center and UN 19, 25 June confirmed they will send small observation teams to monitor voting. Deputy FM for Latin America Rander Peña 18 June said govt had invited BRICS+ bloc, including China and Russia, to observe election and confirmed Caracas’ intention to soon join bloc.

Crackdown on opposition figures persisted. Banned opposition candidate María Corina Machado 17 June accused govt of “criminalising the electoral route”, saying 37 opposition activists had been arrested in 2024, four of them in previous week. González same day said govt was creating a “hostile atmosphere” for election, while civil society leaders continued to spotlight security forces’ routine targeting of activists.

Continue reading

In The News

17 Apr 2024
The [Venezuelan] opposition has a massive opportunity [in the upcoming elections] to make it clear Maduro isn’t wanted. New York Times

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
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

Former 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

Latest Updates

Our People

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
Phil Gunson

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.