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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

Unchanged Situation

Mainstream opposition participation in upcoming elections increasingly likely; situation at Colombian border remained tense. Main opposition parties, including mainstream opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s Voluntad Popular (VP), reportedly assessing fielding some candidates in regional and local elections scheduled for Nov. VP delegation 21-25 June met with U.S. officials in U.S. capital Washington D.C. to discuss Guaidó’s efforts to establish dialogue with President Maduro; also visited Brussels and Paris 28-29 June. U.S., EU and Canada 25 June jointly said they would review sanctions policies if govt and opposition able to make “meaningful progress” toward transparent elections. Govt 28 June said they would no longer appoint so-called “protectors”, ruling-party supporters who de facto exercise same functions as elected official in opposition-led states. National Electoral Council 29 June said it would allow opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable – which had secured majority in National Assembly in 2015 – to run in next elections. Spanish newspaper El País and Venezuelan website Armando.info 13 June alleged vast international network had allowed Venezuela to escape U.S. oil sanctions. Second international donors’ conference for Venezuela 17 June raised over $1.5mn in grants and loans to help Venezuelan refugees and migrants; donation pledges up by 45% compared to last year. UN High Commissioner for Refugees 19 June said Venezuela is world’s second country most affected by forced displacement with over 5mn displaced. Displaced civilians reportedly started to return home in Apure state at border with Colombia, where armed forces have been fighting against dissident faction of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) known as 10th Front since March. Defence Minister Gen Padrino López 1 June said eight Venezuelan soldiers who had been abducted in April by 10th Front in Apure had been rescued; independent sources however attributed their return to negotiation. NGO Fundaredes 21 June and others in following days said FARC dissidents 15 June killed six indigenous civilians in Apure. Amid slow and erratic COVID-19 vaccination program, govt 10 June blamed U.S. “blockade” for $10mn shortfall in Venezuela’s payments to World Health Organization’s COVAX vaccine-sharing program; U.S. Treasury 17 June issued new guidance to ease COVID-19-related transactions despite sanctions.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
4 Apr 2020
What the [Venezuelan] regime is facing now is much more grave than they’ve ever faced before. BloombergQuint

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes

Latest Updates

Venezuela’s Opposition Is Clinging to a Failed Strategy

Opposition politicians in Venezuela face a difficult set of choices. But the sooner they face up to them, the sooner Venezuela can begin to tackle the enormous challenges of a much-needed political transition and economic reconstruction.

Originally published in World Politics Review

Latin America’s Tough Year Ahead

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh, Richard Atwood and Ivan Briscoe, Crisis Group’s Latin America Director, talk about COVID-19’s devastation, polarisation and populism in the region, as well as the Venezuela crisis and violence in Mexico.

Venezuela: Reassembling a Route to Peace

As Venezuela faces one of the world’s worst economic and humanitarian crises, concessions on both sides will be necessary to break the political deadlock. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2021, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to press for urgent access for humanitarian relief and to encourage the Maduro government and opposition parties to re-engage in negotiations.

Also available in Español
Podcast / United States

U.S. Sanctions: An Overused Foreign Policy Tool?

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh and Richard Atwood discuss the “maximum pressure” sanctions that the U.S. has imposed upon Iran and Venezuela. Their guests are Crisis Group’s experts on these two countries, Ali Vaez and Phil Gunson.

Our People

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes

Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor