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

Improved Situation

Opposition coalition rallied behind little-known presidential candidate Edmundo González, raising hopes for a more competitive election in July; U.S. partially revoked sanctions relief.

Opposition agreed on unity candidate. Opposition coalition Unitary Platform 19 April announced it had reached agreement to support candidacy of retired diplomat Edmundo González in July poll. Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales, whose Un Nuevo Tiempo party (Platform member) had registered his candidacy unilaterally, stood down in favour of González, while banned candidate María Corina Machado 20 April pledged her support. Fears that govt would move to ban González or Unitary Platform’s ticket (known as MUD) did not immediately materialise as govt, after delay, eventually allowed parties that had backed Rosales to formalise their change of candidate. Decision to rally behind González raised hopes for more competitive presidential election in July. Meanwhile, Colombian President Petro 17 April told Brazilian President Lula that he had proposed “plebiscite” between govt and opposition guaranteeing protection from political persecution for poll’s loser.

U.S. reimposed oil sanctions but stopped short of full snapback. U.S. 17 April announced it would not renew General Licence 44, under which Venezuela could sell oil and gas on open market, though its replacement, GL-44a, leaves open option of licences for individual companies to do business with state oil corporation PDVSA. U.S. argued Maduro govt had “not fully met the commitments” it made under Oct 2023 Barbados Agreement with opposition; in particular, it said govt had “prevented the democratic opposition from registering the candidate of their choice, harassed and intimidated political opponents, and unjustly detained numerous political actors and members of civil society”. President Maduro and his chief negotiator Jorge Rodríguez same day said Washington, not Caracas, had failed to fulfil commitments, with Maduro claiming U.S. had promised to lift all sanctions during talks. U.S. Ambassador Francisco Palmieri 23 April said Washington would “keep channels open” for further talks. 

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to open office in capital. President Maduro 23 April signed agreement allowing ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to open office in capital Caracas and invited UN human rights officials (expelled in Jan) to return to Venezuela; terms for their return have yet to be agreed.

Continue reading

In The News

17 apr 2024
The [Venezuelan] opposition has a massive opportunity [in the upcoming elections] to make it clear Maduro isn’t wanted. New York Times

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
11 dec 2022
El Gobierno de Maduro [en Venezuela] tiene un interés en dar algunas concesiones desde el punto de vista político y electoral. El paìs

Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor
3 nov 2022
[Venezuelan President Maduro] can use repression and fraud to stay in power. But I think he would far rather win a relatively clean election. NPR

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes

Latest Updates

Our People

Mariano de Alba

Senior Advocacy Advisor
Mariano de Alba

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
Phil Gunson

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.