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.
In recent years, Venezuelans have streamed into Colombia looking for work and respite from their country’s socio-economic meltdown. But dangers also await them, including the clutches of organised crime. Bogotá’s change of government is a chance to reset policy to keep the migrants safer.
Dialogue between authorities and opposition remained on hold, opposition started preparations ahead of 2024 polls, and restoration of diplomatic relations with Colombia proceeded apace.
Mexico dialogue between govt and opposition remained stalled. U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee 15 Sept held hearing on policy toward Venezuela. U.S. Assistant Sec State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols reaffirmed Biden administration’s goal of persuading Maduro govt to return to suspended negotiations in Mexico City with opposition in exchange for limited sanctions relief. Under pressure from Republican members and committee chair Senator Bob Menéndez, Nichols stressed Washington’s continued support for “interim govt” and willingness to take “comprehensive” measures if progress on talks was not achieved. Maduro same day dismissed threat, saying U.S. would never again be world’s “only empire”.
Opposition made progress on preparations for primaries. Opposition alliance Unitary Platform 15 Sept announced plans to appoint special commission with members drawn from civil society, responsible for overseeing primaries to select single candidate for 2024 presidential election. Platform same day said it had reached “important agreements” with other opposition groups willing to participate, although several such groups, including breakaway faction of Acción Democrática party, have already announced their own candidates for 2024 election. In report published 20 Sept, UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela found that Venezuela’s state security agencies have committed “crimes against humanity” since 2014 as “part of a plan designed by high-level authorities to repress opponents of the Government”. Govt same day rejected “false and baseless accusations”.
Authorities continued to strengthen diplomatic relations with Bogotá, reopened shared border. Colombian President Petro 12 Sept submitted formal request to Venezuela to act as guarantor in planned peace talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group, which has substantial presence in Venezuela; President Maduro 13 Sept accepted request. Members of ELN negotiating team same day reportedly left for Caracas from Cuba’s capital Havana, where they had remained in exile since 2019 when talks with Colombian govt broke down. Marking another step forward in bilateral relations, Colombia-Venezuela border 26 Sept reopened, although anticipated meeting between Maduro and Petro did not take place.
From a humanitarian, security and economic perspective the closure of the border [between Colombia and Venezuela] has been a disaster. It’s pushed migrants in the directi...
There’s a lot of different centers of power in Venezuela and not all of them are aligned with Maduro or share his goal of seeing talks with the U.S. advance.
Maduro no tiene la intención de traicionar a Putin, sino explorar qué réditos puede sacar de este acercamiento con Estados Unidos.
Maduro is very isolated internationally. It's hard for him to trade. He can't renegotiate the massive debt that Venezuela has. So he needs some relief.
Unless he [Guaidó] is able to reinvent himself in some way, I think the Guaidó plan has clearly failed.
[Venezuela's] health service had collapsed long before sanctions were imposed.
Crisis Group experts talk in this Twitter Space about what can be done to better protect Venezuelan migrants fleeing to Colombia from exploitation by criminal armed groups. The discussion was hosted by Bram Ebus, consultant for Latin America, Mariano de Alba, our senior advocacy advisor for Latin America and Glaeldys González, Giustra fellow for Latin America.
Hugo Chavez's charisma fuelled his revolution in Venezuela, but as Crisis Group expert Phil Gunson explains in this photo essay, part of a larger project on deadly violence in Latin America, part of his legacy is also rising crime and hunger.
In this week’s Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Crisis Group’s Iran expert Naysan Rafati and Venezuela expert Phil Gunson to discuss the Ukraine war’s global repercussions.
High-ranking U.S. officials made a surprise trip to Venezuela’s capital, hinting at efforts to improve bilateral relations and end the standoff between the Maduro government and its opponents. The backdrop is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which just might be changing strategic calculations an ocean away.
The political standoff in Venezuela continues as the country sinks deeper into socio-economic distress. Renewed talks between government and opposition – now on hold – give external partners of both sides an opening to push harder for resolution of the impasse. They should seize the opportunity.
The deadlock between President Maduro's government and the opposition is generating a humanitarian emergency in Venezuela. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to maintain contact with all opposition groups, engage with the government to restore representative politics and the rule of law, support international efforts for negotiations and increase aid.
A fresh series of talks to address Venezuela’s profound political crisis are afoot in Mexico City. The discussions will likely be long and cumbersome, but there is space for partial and early agreements that could improve everyday life for Venezuelans.