Venezuela’s political crisis took another fateful turn on Sunday 30 July with the rigged election of an all-powerful assembly mandated to rewrite the constitution. In this Q&A, Senior Analyst for the Andes Phil Gunson says Sunday’s vote represents the end of what little democratic space still existed and takes the country on the path to dictatorship.
CrisisWatch is a monthly early warning bulletin designed to provide a regular update on the state of the most significant situations of conflict around the world.
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.
Revised and ratified after its shock rejection in October 2016’s referendum, Colombia’s peace agreement still lacks sustainable political support. Reversing public distrust will need swift and effective implementation of the accord – including full apologies for past crimes and the visible handover of weapons by insurgents.
With a collapsing health care system, sky-rocketing inflation and crippling state controls, Venezuela is beset by unprecedented social and economic crises. To end the root problem of political paralysis, the Chavista government and opposition must use outside-mediated negotiation to restore democratic and responsible economic governance.
To convert August’s historic peace deal into a durable end to 52 years of conflict, the government and FARC rebels must redouble efforts to achieve a full cessation of hostilities, a successful plebiscite, and UN-monitored ceasefire and weapons handover process.
Venezuela is in full-fledged crisis: food and medicine are scarce, violent crime is surging, and the government is blocking democratic ways forward. The international community and the Organization of American States should press for political dialogue, the opening of legal paths to a presidential recall referendum in 2016, and permission for humanitarian aid to enter the country.
After a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections, Venezuela’s Chavista government needs to move away from confrontation. The executive must join the new legislative majority in a cooperation pact that can lead the country from deadlock to open democracy, and save it from a looming economic and humanitarian disaster.
There is malaria now even in urban areas [of Venezuela]. The government's anti-malaria programme has effectively been dismantled.
It’s very hard to create critical mass [in Venezuela] without being found out. In an era of instant digital communications, authorities can be alerted to the risk of destabilization very quickly.
Should [violent] events recur, Venezuela’s political conflict could morph into a low-intensity civil war.
There is a [...] belief in Colombia that if you are an illegal armed group without a particular ideology, fighting the state would be enough to pressure the government into entering a peace process.
But so far that discontent [within Venezuela's armed forces] has not translated into a split in the armed forces, and this is clearly what everybody's waiting for.
The opposition [in Venezuela] knows perfectly well that they would lose a violent struggle. If they start shooting back, everything is over. So the violence on the opposition side is reactive.
The Venezuelan government has dissolved the elected, opposition-led parliament and initiated de facto rule. Foreign governments and multilateral organisations should regard all government actions carried out in contravention of the 1999 constitution as invalid and press the government to take urgent steps toward the restoration of democracy.
As the Venezuelan government prepares to create an all-powerful constituent assembly to replace the country’s democracy, unrest is likely to reach new levels of violence. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Second Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to support regional actors’ efforts to bring about genuine negotiations while insisting on the restoration of constitutional rule.
Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2017 includes entries on Nigeria, Qatar, Thailand and Venezuela. These early-warning publications identify conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.
In this video, our Senior Analyst for Colombia, Kyle Johnson, highlights the main findings of Crisis Group’s report “In the Shadow of “No”: Peace after Colombia’s Plebiscite”. Johnson argues that rebuilding Colombian public’s trust will need swift and effective implementation of the revised peace agreement - including full apologies for past crimes and the visible handover of weapons by insurgents.
Colombia’s 2016 peace accord was a spectacular breakthrough after five decades of war. It was also an outcome Crisis Group helped work for during 15 years of Bogotá-based research and advocacy, including 36 reports and briefings, 91 op-eds and commentaries and more than 500 meetings with all parties.