Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up 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 Youtube


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

Apparent attempt to assassinate President Maduro shook country, while govt’s new economic reform package widely expected to worsen economic and humanitarian crisis and intensify exodus of Venezuelans to neighbouring countries. Two drones carrying explosives blew up –  one within 50 metres of Maduro –  4 Aug during military parade in Caracas; govt said seven soldiers injured; group calling themselves “Soldados de Franelas” claimed responsibility on social media without giving evidence. Maduro claimed outgoing Colombian President Santos was responsible; Santos dismissed as “ridiculous”. Security forces 7 Aug arrested opposition MP Juan Requesens, with govt claiming he helped leader of attack under orders from exiled opposition leader Julio Borges; Requesens’ family and colleagues alleged he was drugged to force televised confession. Govt charged Requesens with crimes including attempted assassination and treason, which he denied in court, and 8 Aug issued warrant for arrest of Borges, who denies involvement. Govt 20 Aug implemented delayed currency reform, cutting five zeroes off bolívar to create new “sovereign bolívar”; three days earlier, Maduro announced “magical” economic package, involving pegging new currency to Petro “crypto-currency” backed by oil reserves (representing an effective devaluation of 95%), and 35-fold increase in minimum wage, initially to be partly subsidised by govt; generated widespread concerns that measures will accelerate hyper-inflation crisis and cripple businesses. Several opposition parties 21 Aug held nationwide “general strike”, but response patchy. So-called “Supreme Court in exile” 15 Aug found Maduro guilty of corruption, sentenced him to jail term; National Assembly 21 Aug ratified sentence, calling on security forces to arrest him, in apparent manoeuvre by parts of opposition, principally in exile, to name alternative govt and seek military intervention. Venezuelans continued to flee country causing backlash in neighbouring countries; Peru and Ecuador announced entry restrictions while incident in Brazil 18 Aug saw residents in border town Pacaraima attack Venezuelans, prompting 1,200 to flee back across border. UN 24 Aug warned of exodus from Venezuela heading to “crisis moment” for region.

Continue reading

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