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Venezuela faces a major political, economic and social crisis, with hyperinflation, acute scarcity of food, medicine and other basic goods and one of the world’s highest murder rates. The opposition has been staging widespread protests against the increasingly totalitarian policies enacted by Maduro’s government. Dozens of demonstrators have been killed. The July 2017 election of an all-powerful Constituent Assembly closed down almost all remaining democratic spaces, sparking widespread condemnation in the region and around the world. A negotiated restoration of democracy is vital if violence is to be avoided. Crisis Group aims to engage national players and the international community to build momentum for credible negotiations. We work to encourage successful third-party facilitation, including human rights and technical assistance mechanisms, and to help restore credible democratic and judicial systems.

CrisisWatch Venezuela

Deteriorated Situation

Turmoil continued as govt and opposition hardened their positions and clashes sparked by opposition’s attempted delivery of humanitarian aid prompted fears of further violence. Large quantities of international aid including medical supplies and food, mostly transported by U.S., arrived at Colombian border and opposition leader and regionally supported interim President Juan Guaidó announced 23 Feb as date for first aid shipment into country; govt shut all border points including main planned delivery routes; President Maduro 21 Feb called aid a “provocation” and suggested it was precursor to U.S. military invasion. Army 22 Feb opened fire on indigenous protesters attempting to keep border with Brazil open in Gran Sabana region, killing at least two. Clashes broke out as opposition activists and civilians 23 Feb attempted to bring aid across borders with Colombia and Brazil, with security forces firing teargas and rubber bullets and masked civilian paramilitaries firing live rounds; more people reported killed in Santa Elena de Uairén on Brazilian border, hundreds injured in all; over 400 members of security forces, mostly National Guard, deserted by crossing border near Cúcuta, according to Colombian govt. Armed forces mostly maintained loyalty to Maduro govt during month, although largely refrained from attacking massive opposition demonstrations taking place across country; however, severe repression continued, including police death squads’ reported use of summary executions. International opinion remained divided, with most actors rejecting military intervention. UN Sec-Gen Guterres 22 Feb met with FM Arreaza in New York, urging govt to refrain from using force against protesters, while Guaidó 25 Feb met regional members of Lima Group and U.S. VP Pence in Bogotá to discuss crisis, during which Latin American countries voiced opposition to military intervention; Pence announced further sanctions against members of govt and called on other nations to increase pressure. EU accelerated creation of International Contact Group at meeting in Uruguay 7 Feb, with stated purpose to seek path to free and fair elections under external observation. Guaidó 22 Feb left country clandestinely for Colombia, stating intention to return after visiting Brazil, Europe and U.S.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

21 Mar 2019
Maduro is essentially calling Trump’s bluff. Maduro has essentially concluded that the military option is a very remote possibility. The New York Times

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
7 Feb 2019
The Maduro team doesn’t want to talk to [the opposition] and doesn’t trust them. They think they will all end up in jail or strung up from lampposts. Wall Street Journal

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
27 Nov 2018
[Miners in Venezuela] are severely at risk of being shot dead: Mining communities have phenomenally high homicide rates, even by the extraordinary high levels that we see in the rest of Venezuela. NPR

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
16 Apr 2018
People [in Venezuela] are moving to the countryside because you can more or less survive if you have a small plot of land and access to your own produce. Miami Herald

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
13 Mar 2018
Increased prices can be charged to [Venezuelan] migrants because of their sheer desire to cross [the border to reach Colombia]. IRIN

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean
12 Jan 2018
The prognosis [for Venezuela in] 2018 is further deterioration, humanitarian emergency, and an increased exodus of Venezuelans. Sustained domestic and international pressure will be required. Reuters

Robert Malley

President & CEO

Latest Updates

What We Heard in Caracas

President Trump’s tough talk and actions opened the door for change in Venezuela. Now the U.S. must avoid hardline inflexibility that could close it, ending the chance of achieving internal peace through an interim power arrangement between the country’s duelling presidents.


Also available in Español

Mexico’s New Neutrality in the Venezuela Crisis

Bucking the U.S. and several large and influential Latin American states, Mexico has not recognised Juan Guaidó’s claim on Venezuela’s presidency, and has instead argued for negotiations to end the country’s crisis. As Crisis Group’s Senior Mexico Analyst Falko Ernst explains, this position is rooted in a new Mexican foreign policy doctrine.

Also available in Español

Venezuela – A Rough Road Ahead

Venezuela’s profound political turmoil has displaced millions and now threatens to turn into a dangerous military confrontation. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage and support a negotiated outcome to the crisis.

Also available in Español

In Venezuela, a High-stakes Gambit

The Venezuelan National Assembly’s chairman, Juan Guaidó, has declared himself interim president, with the support of several foreign governments. Unless the Venezuelan military backs his move, it is unlikely to topple incumbent President Nicolás Maduro and could unleash greater repression and even outside military intervention.

Also available in Español

Our People

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes