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Venezuela

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

President Maduro’s govt continued to tighten control on electoral framework ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Dec. Newly appointed electoral authority (CNE) 1 July said parliamentary elections would take place 6 Dec. On occasion of Independence Day 5 July, Defence Minister Padrino López delivered hardline speech describing mainstream opposition led by Juan Guaidó as “bunch of crooks” who will “never exercise power” as long as army remains “anti-imperialist, Bolivarian and revolutionary”. Supreme Court 7 July transferred command of Guaidó’s Voluntad Popular party to ad hoc committee led by José Gregorio Noriega, previously expelled from party over allegations of corruption but recognised by govt as National Assembly VP; decision followed similar moves against two other mainstream opposition parties in June. Opposition continued to reject govt-controlled Supreme Court changes to electoral law announced in June – which resulted notably in increase in number of National Assembly seats from 167 to 277, and in number of MPs elected by party list rather than individually – saying they have no legal basis. In interview with Tal Cual newspaper 13 July, CNE board member Rafael Simón Jiménez admitted CNE, despite being officially independent, executes decisions taken by National Dialogue Roundtable – govt-led dialogue initiative involving minority opposition parties. Following call between EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell and FM Jorge Arreaza, govt 2 July rescinded its late June decision to expel EU representative from country; expulsion came in response to EU imposition of sanctions on individuals for “undermining democracy and rule of law” following appointment of new CNE earlier in June. Borrell 13 July proposed ministerial-level meeting of EU/Uruguay-led International Contact Group “with all the key players” of Venezuelan political crisis to discuss conditions for Dec elections. Opposition 24 July reiterated that Norway-sponsored govt-opposition talks were over after Norwegian govt representatives said they would visit capital Caracas late July to assess political and humanitarian situation. Amid dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, concerns persisted over health system capacity, while several high-level officials tested positive for virus.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
31 Mar 2020
If the virus were to take off in Venezuela, and the country were not to receive a huge injection of international support, it would face an absolute disaster. The Guadian

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean
26 Mar 2020
If you’re going to cause the collapse of [the Venezuelan] government in the middle of a pandemic, then you will be responsible for instilling chaos. HuffPost

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
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

Latest Updates

Hunger Looms in Venezuela’s Standoff

Venezuela has so far been spared the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the global economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus, on top of the existing humanitarian emergency and the impact of U.S. sanctions, threatens to produce a catastrophe. In this excerpt from the Spring Edition of our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support a resolution of the political crisis and to take measures to alleviate the humanitarian emergency.

Also available in Español

Under a Merciless Sun: Venezuelans Stranded Across the Colombian Border

As Venezuela’s economy plumbs the depths of collapse, a new cohort of refugees is trekking across parched landscapes to Colombia. It consists of the most vulnerable, including poor expectant mothers, unaccompanied children and the sick, people with no defence against the predations of armed bands.

Also available in Español

A Glut of Arms: Curbing the Threat to Venezuela from Violent Groups

Power in Venezuela is slipping away from state institutions and concentrating in the hands of criminals, guerrillas and other non-state actors. Any new negotiations between government and opposition must consider how to defang these armed irregulars, who might otherwise scuttle an eventual settlement.

Also available in Español

Seizure of Parliament Plunges Venezuela into Deeper Turmoil

The government of Nicolás Maduro has seized control of Venezuela’s parliament, robbing the opposition of its platform for negotiating a way out of the country’s political crisis. An already long, damaging conflict could drag on if outside powers cannot persuade the government to reverse course.

Also available in Español

Peace in Venezuela: Is There Life after the Barbados Talks?

The standoff between Venezuela’s government and opposition has reached a worrying juncture, with negotiations falling apart, side deals emerging and regional states rolling out new sanctions on Caracas. Resuming the talks is the safest path to an exit from the country’s ever deepening crisis.

Also available in Español

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Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
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