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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

Unchanged Situation

Fallout from 20 May election continued as opposition and foreign govts maintained refusal to recognise President Maduro’s victory. Supreme Court (SC) 13 June refused to admit losing candidate Henri Falcón’s claim that election should be nullified because of multiple irregularities including vote-buying, saying Falcón offered no proof. Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly 5 June passed resolution stating election failed to comply with international standards and lacked legitimacy; called for negotiations leading to a free and fair election, and for member states to take political, economic and financial measures to assist in restoration of democracy in Venezuela; although supported by nineteen countries, resolution fell short of 24 votes needed to suspend Venezuela’s membership. EU 25 June imposed sanctions on eleven govt officials, including members of electoral authority. UN high commissioner for human rights 22 June accused security forces in Operation for the Liberation of the People, ostensibly a series of crime-reduction operations, of over 500 extrajudicial killings July 2015-March 2017. Govt conditionally released several dozen political prisoners, from various groups, beginning 2 June; however hundreds remained in jail. Dozens are military officers, some convicted of involvement in May 2018 coup plot which, according to a report by Bloomberg, was foiled. President Maduro 14 June announced cabinet changes including replacement of VP El Aissami with Delcy Rodríguez, previously head of controversial pro-Maduro National Constituent Assembly (ANC); Maduro moved El Aissami to head new Ministry of Industries and National Production, Diosdado Cabello was chosen to head ANC. Reshuffle also significantly reduced number of military members of cabinet. Amid ongoing hyperinflation crisis, ANC appointed Calixto Ortega Sánchez as president of Central Bank, despite his lack of prior experience in role. Opposition remained divided; Falcón 30 May announced creation of “new opposition platform” Concertación para el Cambio, based around parties that supported his candidacy.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
11 Jan 2018
Venezuela is in a very, very deep economic hole. Hyperinflation is around 2,000%. Foreign reserves are well below $10 billion, and the productive economy is virtually in pieces. The World Weekly

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
9 Jan 2018
The [Venezuelan] military needs [President] Maduro because they would rather not rule themselves. He makes life good for them. If you are a general and play by the rules you can make a lot of money. The Guardian

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
8 Dec 2017
The least you can ask of [Venezuelan] opposition is that it shows up and puts up a fight. There [aren't] many instances in history where governments have been brought down by electoral boycotts. The Guardian

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes

Latest Updates

Watch List 2018 – First Update

Crisis Group’s first update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on Burundi’s dangerous referendum, militant Buddhists and anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka, the impact of the Venezuelan crisis on the region, and the situation in Yemen. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Op-Ed / Asia

Why China Should Help Solve Venezuela’s Deepening Crisis

Originally published in Asia Times

Also available in 简体中文

Video: Containing the Shock Waves from Venezuela

Crisis Group's Andes Senior Analyst Phil Gunson explains how Venezuela’s socio-economic implosion is dragging in neighbours as hundreds of thousands of people flee the country, epidemics spread and violent crime spills over borders.

Final Curtain for Venezuela’s Democracy as Parliament is Dissolved

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.

Also available in Español

Venezuela's Last Flickers of Democracy

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.

Also available in Español

Our People

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes