icon caret Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Line Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Crisiswatch Alerts and Trends Box - 1080/761 Copy Twitter Video Camera  copyview Whatsapp Youtube

Venezuela

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

Ruling party secured sweeping victory in regional and local elections amid low turnout and international concerns over irregularities, and International Criminal Court opened formal investigation into crimes against humanity in Venezuela. In 21 Nov regional and local elections, ruling United Socialist Party won at least 19 out of 23 governor seats. In Barinas state, Supreme Court’s electoral branch 29 Nov retroactively disqualified opposition candidate Freddy Superlano, who was slightly leading in vote count, and ordered fresh election in Jan, sparking outcry. Results brought into sharp relief weakness and lack of unity of opposition, which participated in elections for first time since 2017; turnout of 41.8% also highlighted widespread voter disaffection. Violent incidents reported on election day in San Francisco town (Zulia state): notably, ruling party supporters known as colectivos reportedly killed man and injured two other people outside voting centre. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 22 Nov said elections “grossly skewed”, while Isabel Santos, EU observation mission’s chief observer, next day flagged irregularities including “arbitrary bans on candidates” and uneven playing field despite “better conditions” than in previous elections; in response, President Maduro 28 Nov called EU observers “enemies” and “spies”. After withdrawing from Mexico talks with opposition in Oct, Maduro 21 Nov said negotiations would not resume until Washington answered for “kidnapping” of govt envoy Alex Saab, who was extradited to U.S. by Cape Verde in Oct on money-laundering charges. After three-day visit to Venezuela, International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Prosecutor Karim Khan 3 Nov announced formal investigation into crimes against humanity committed in country since April 2017, including allegations of extrajudicial killings and torture by security forces during crackdown on anti-govt protests in April-July 2017; move marks first time Latin American country faces formal ICC scrutiny for possible crimes against humanity. Maduro immediately said his govt disagreed with decision but would collaborate with ICC; Maduro and Khan same day signed memorandum of understanding stipulating govt would “adopt all necessary measures” to ensure justice was done, and ICC would provide “support and active engagement”.
Continue reading

Reports & Briefings

In The News

31 May 2021
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. NPR

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
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

Latest Updates

A Rebel Playing Field: Colombian Guerrillas on the Venezuelan Border

In the jungle along the Colombian-Venezuelan frontier, guerrillas, criminals and shadowy state elements jostle for illicit profits. Venezuela’s campaign against one armed group has raised tensions. Bogotá and Caracas should temper their war of words and work to forestall an inadvertent bilateral escalation.

Also available in Español

The Exile Effect: Venezuela’s Overseas Opposition and Social Media

A study of social media content shows that Venezuelan opposition figures often take harder anti-government lines if they flee abroad. Exiles’ voices are important, but those trying to end Venezuela’s crisis should listen to others as well, recalling that compromise offers the only peaceful exit.

Also available in Español

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.

Our People

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
philgunson

Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor
marianodealba