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Venezuela is in the midst of a tense political standoff and socio-economic meltdown, with hyperinflation, rising crime and food shortages pushing some three million citizens to flee the country. Incumbent President Nicolás Maduro has grabbed power for the executive and engineered his re-election in a dubious vote, triggering moves backed by the U.S. and allies to unseat him and instal an interim president. A negotiated restoration of democracy and urgent economic reform are vital if the country is to avoid violence 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 credible democratic and judicial systems.

CrisisWatch Venezuela

Deteriorated Situation

Govt-opposition talks suspended, while relations with Colombia continued to deteriorate. Following govt’s suspension of Norwegian-mediated talks in Barbados in Aug, opposition led by “interim President” Juan Guaidó 15 Sept announced it was pulling out of dialogue, saying “Barbados mechanism is exhausted”. Opposition next day revealed plan proposed to govt which included President Maduro and Guaidó stepping down from posts while a govt council – including opposition, govt and armed forces representatives – presided over free presidential elections; opposition stated lack of govt response prevented return to negotiations. Govt next day announced it had been talking secretly and separately to group of minor opposition parties, including Avanzada Progresista led by former governor and 2018 presidential candidate Henri Falcón, and had reached initial agreement; agreement would see pro-govt MPs return to parliament, new electoral authority formed and release of some political prisoners. Day after 16 Sept public signing of agreement, govt released National Assembly (AN) VP Edgar Zambrano from military prison; pro-govt MPs returned to AN 24 Sept. Guaidó-led opposition dismissed agreement as “pantomime”, accusing Maduro of negotiating in bad faith; AN 17 Sept passed motion ratifying Guaidó as “interim President” until free elections are held. Relations with Colombia deteriorated over alleged Venezuelan support for Colombian guerrillas, while govt accused Colombia of trying to recruit Venezuelan soldiers to sabotage air defence system, reportedly responding with military drills at border since 10 Sept (see Colombia). Govt accused Guaidó of links to Colombian paramilitaries after photos were published of him 12 Sept with “Rastrojos” gang leaders. Organization of American States Permanent Council 11 Sept agreed to activation of regional defence Rio Treaty, with FMs from eighteen signatory countries 23 Sept meeting in New York; resolution focused on capture/extradition/punishment of regime associates involved in terrorism and/or organised crime. International Contact Group met same day. UN Human Rights Council 27 Sept voted to send “international-fact finding mission” to country to “investigate extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances” and other human rights abuses since 2014.

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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

Video: The Combustible Border Between Venezuela and Brazil

The frontier between Brazil and its crisis-ridden neighbour Venezuela has become a major migration route, a hotspot for crime and a flashpoint for violence.

Also available in Español

A Glimmer of Light in Venezuela’s Gloom

A discreet Norwegian diplomatic effort represents the best hope for breaking Venezuela's political deadlock. To stop the country’s slide into humanitarian and economic catastrophe, pragmatic backers of both government and opposition should put aside empty hopes of outright victory and support a negotiated settlement.

Also available in Español

A Way Out of Latin America’s Impasse over Venezuela

In recent years Venezuela’s political and economic implosion has become a major headache for much of Latin America. Regional governments should seek to find common ground and coordinate their efforts with the EU’s International Contact Group to push for a negotiated transition.

Also available in Español

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Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes