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Venezuela

Venezuela is in the midst of a tense political standoff and socio-economic meltdown, with hyperinflation, violent crime, political repression and food shortages pushing nearly six million citizens to flee the country. Incumbent President Nicolás Maduro has grabbed power for the executive and dismantled democratic checks and balances, triggering moves backed by the U.S. and allies to unseat him and install an interim president. A negotiated restoration of legitimate and representative state institutions as well as urgent economic reform are vital if the country is to resolve the political crisis peacefully 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 the rule of law.

CrisisWatch Venezuela

Unchanged Situation

President Maduro met with civil society platform, Mexico talks with opposition remained on hold, and two governments renewed diplomatic engagement with authorities. President Maduro 5 April received leading members of Foro Cívico civil society platform and – separately – leaders of moderate opposition Alianza Democrática; decision to meet harshly criticised by some as lending legitimacy to Maduro, questioned by some of Foro’s own members. Foro Cívico leaders insisted they did not have time to seek approval from associated organisations and therefore attended as “citizens”. Letter addressed to U.S. administration published 14 April, which called for more flexible approach to sanctions and contained some signatories linked to Foro Cívico, provoked further hostility. Meanwhile, Mexico talks still on hold by end of the month. Despite apparent disagreements within ruling party over appointment of new slimmed-down Supreme Court, ruling party-controlled National Assembly 26 April proceeded with nominations, named 20 overwhelmingly pro-govt magistrates to country’s Supreme Court (TSJ), dashing hopes on part of some in opposition for a more balanced court; TSJ judges 27 April appointed U.S.-sanctioned Gladys Gutiérrez as Court’s new president. Non-governmental organisation Foro Penal 29 April denounced detention of 240 political prisoners. International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan 1 April agreed to set up office in capital Caracas to resume in-country investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Venezuela since Feb 2014; 20 April announced he would seek court’s authorisation to continue investigation, despite govt’s request for deferral. Meanwhile, strategy adopted by U.S. and allies to diplomatically isolate Maduro’s govt appeared to be losing momentum. Notably, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández 18 April announced plans to restore full diplomatic relations, while Portugal’s next head of mission in Caracas will seek accreditation as ambassador, according to diplomatic sources, breaking with EU members’ policy of keeping relations at level of chargés d’affaires.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

15 Mar 2022
Maduro no tiene la intención de traicionar a Putin, sino explorar qué réditos puede sacar de este acercamiento con Estados Unidos. El País

Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor
31 May 2021
Maduro is very isolated internationally. It's hard for him to trade. He can't renegotiate the massive debt that Venezuela has. So he needs some relief. NPR

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
7 Dec 2020
Unless he [Guaidó] is able to reinvent himself in some way, I think the Guaidó plan has clearly failed. The Guardian

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
11 Aug 2020
[Venezuela's] health service had collapsed long before sanctions were imposed. Foreign Policy

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
7 Jul 2020
[The Venezuelan Government] want[s] to make it quite clear that Guaidó is history. Minneapolis Star Tribune

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
12 Apr 2020
If there's mass social unrest [in Venezuela] they are not really in a position to control it and I think that's the government's nightmare scenario. BBC News

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes

Latest Updates

Overcoming the Global Rift on Venezuela

The political standoff in Venezuela continues as the country sinks deeper into socio-economic distress. Renewed talks between government and opposition – now on hold – give external partners of both sides an opening to push harder for resolution of the impasse. They should seize the opportunity.

Also available in Español

Venezuela: Maduro’s Timid Thaw Unsettles the Opposition

The deadlock between President Maduro's government and the opposition is generating a humanitarian emergency in Venezuela. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to maintain contact with all opposition groups, engage with the government to restore representative politics and the rule of law, support international efforts for negotiations and increase aid.

Also available in Español

Venezuela: Making the Most of the Mexican Breakthrough

A fresh series of talks to address Venezuela’s profound political crisis are afoot in Mexico City. The discussions will likely be long and cumbersome, but there is space for partial and early agreements that could improve everyday life for Venezuelans.

Also available in Español

Venezuela’s Multifaceted Crisis and Europe

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Mariano de Alba talk to Venezuelan activist Roberto Patiño about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, the opportunities for change and what role the European Union and the U.S. could play in a possible transition. 

Venezuela: An Opportunity That Should Be Seized

A series of gestures from Caracas suggests that President Nicolás Maduro’s government might be more willing to negotiate with rivals and enact partial reforms. Washington should respond in kind with phased sanctions relief and diplomatic gestures that can be reversed if Venezuela backslides.

Also available in Español

Our People

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
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Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor
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