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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

President Maduro’s planned swearing in for second term 10 Jan, following his disputed May 2018 election, prompted growing domestic and international opposition, with some regional govts including Colombia indicating they may close their embassies or break off relations. Peruvian FM Popolizio 7 Dec said his govt would propose to Lima Group that govts break relations with Venezuela on 10 Jan, although members split on plan; Venezuelan FM Arreaza accused Lima Group govts of corruption and human rights violations. Opposition parties in National Assembly (AN) reportedly agreed during month that Juan Guaidó of Voluntad Popular party would be elected as AN chair 5 Jan in potential consolidation of moderate majority leadership of AN. Two Russian nuclear-capable bombers 10 Dec landed at airport in Maiquetía, Vargas state for “training exercise”; defence minister Gen Vladimir Padrino López commented the two countries were “preparing to defend Venezuela”; official Russian news agency TASS indicated visit was intended to send message to U.S., which criticised visit. Maduro 17 Dec said civil militia had grown to 1.6mn members and its mission was to defend country against external aggression.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
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

Latest Updates

How to Respond to Venezuela’s Humanitarian Emergency

Numbers tell the grim tale of Venezuela’s continuing slide into socio-economic ruin. With 1.6 million people fleeing the country since 2015, international donors should step up aid to neighbouring states, while concerned parties fine-tune pressure for political change in Caracas and prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Also available in Español

President Maduro’s Likely Re-election in Breadline Venezuela

As tens of thousands of Venezuelans stream into neighbouring countries, President Nicolás Maduro appears set to win elections on 20 May. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the Andes Phil Gunson looks ahead to the vote and its aftermath and explains why the crisis is likely to deepen.

Also available in Español

Venezuela: The Region Feels the Impact

Elections scheduled for 20 May are likely to aggravate the crisis in Venezuela, which has forced 1.5 million people to flee the country in the past year and a half. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2018 – First Update early-warning report, Crisis Group urges European policy makers to expand their vital humanitarian assistance to Venezuela and work closely with the Lima Group to encourage a negotiated solution to the crisis.

Also available in Español

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

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Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes