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.
In recent years, Venezuelans have streamed into Colombia looking for work and respite from their country’s socio-economic meltdown. But dangers also await them, including the clutches of organised crime. Bogotá’s change of government is a chance to reset policy to keep the migrants safer.
Colombia and Venezuela restored diplomatic relations, Mexico dialogue remained on hold, and divisions within opposition over question of primaries to elect candidate for 2024 elections persisted. After govt and incoming Colombian administration late-July agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations, Colombian President Petro 28 Aug sent new ambassador, Armando Benedetti, to Caracas, reversing outgoing Colombian President Duque’s confrontational policy toward Venezuela; President Maduro same day sent former FM Félix Plasencia as Venezuela's representative in Bogotá. Meanwhile, opposition leader Juan Guaidó 12 Aug claimed there had been “informal meetings” between opposition leadership and Petro’s govt, but said he wished Petro had not so quickly recognised Maduro’s govt, which he accused of “harbouring terrorism”. Amid restoration of relations, govt 4 Aug announced it would seek extradition of leading opposition politician Julio Borges from Colombia, whom Caracas accuses of orchestrating Aug 2018 drone explosion near Maduro during military parade. Court same day sentenced Borges’ Primero Justicia party member, Juan Requesens, to eight years in prison for involvement in same drone attack; 16 others received up to 30 years. Govt’s chief negotiator Jorge Rodríguez 9 Aug said talks with opposition could not resume until Venezuelan cargo plane, held in Argentina since early-June at Washington’s request because of suspected links to Iranian Revolutionary Guard (which remains on U.S.’ terrorism blacklist), was returned; meanwhile, opposition’s Chief Negotiator Gerardo Blyde 15 Aug said there was “very high probability” that formal Mexico talks between govt and opposition would soon resume. Opposition alliance Unitary Platform remained divided over issue of primaries to select candidate for 2024 presidential election; hardliners, including Leopoldo López of Voluntad Popular, want primaries held in early 2023, while moderates prefer end of next year, and some accuse rivals of being more interested in settling issue of opposition leadership than participating in 2024 elections.
From a humanitarian, security and economic perspective the closure of the border [between Colombia and Venezuela] has been a disaster. It’s pushed migrants in the directi...
There’s a lot of different centers of power in Venezuela and not all of them are aligned with Maduro or share his goal of seeing talks with the U.S. advance.
Maduro no tiene la intención de traicionar a Putin, sino explorar qué réditos puede sacar de este acercamiento con Estados Unidos.
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.
Unless he [Guaidó] is able to reinvent himself in some way, I think the Guaidó plan has clearly failed.
[Venezuela's] health service had collapsed long before sanctions were imposed.
Crisis Group experts talk in this Twitter Space about what can be done to better protect Venezuelan migrants fleeing to Colombia from exploitation by criminal armed groups. The discussion was hosted by Bram Ebus, consultant for Latin America, Mariano de Alba, our senior advocacy advisor for Latin America and Glaeldys González, Giustra fellow for Latin America.
Hugo Chavez's charisma fuelled his revolution in Venezuela, but as Crisis Group expert Phil Gunson explains in this photo essay, part of a larger project on deadly violence in Latin America, part of his legacy is also rising crime and hunger.
In this week’s Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Crisis Group’s Iran expert Naysan Rafati and Venezuela expert Phil Gunson to discuss the Ukraine war’s global repercussions.
High-ranking U.S. officials made a surprise trip to Venezuela’s capital, hinting at efforts to improve bilateral relations and end the standoff between the Maduro government and its opponents. The backdrop is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which just might be changing strategic calculations an ocean away.
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.
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.
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.