"Blessed are the Peacemakers"
Venezuela is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people flee the country every day, mostly on foot. In April 2019, after years of denying the existence of a humanitarian crisis and refusing to allow foreign aid to enter the country—calling aid shipments a political ploy by the United States—Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro allowed the entry of a shipment of emergency supplies from the Red Cross. Venezuela’s infrastructure has been poorly maintained, recently leading to a series of country-wide blackouts in March 2019 that left millions without power.
Maduro was reelected to a second six-year term in May 2018, despite boycotts and accusations of fraud in a widely condemned election, including by a group of fourteen neighboring countries known as the Lima Group, and was officially sworn in to office in January 2019. Two weeks later, on January 15, the National Assembly declared Maduro’s election illegitimate and opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced that he would assume office as interim president until free and fair elections could be held. Guaidó was quickly recognized as interim president by the United States, Canada, most of the European Union, and the Organization of American States, but Maduro retains the support of several major countries including China, Cuba, Russia, and Turkey.
The resulting political standoff has seen an increase in U.S. sanctions against the Maduro government, including targeting oil shipments to Cuba—Maduro has increasingly relied on Cuban military and intelligence support to stay in power—as well as discussions about a potential military intervention. Russia, meanwhile, continues to support the Maduro government, sending Russian troops to Venezuela in March 2019 and helping the government evade sanctions on the oil industry. China has continued to back the Maduro government as well, including offering to help rebuild the national power grid.
Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela in 1998 and, because Venezuela is a petrostate with the largest oil reserves in the world, his socialist government was able to successfully implement its plan to provide subsidized goods and services to the Venezuelan people. However, years of economic mismanagement and corruption under Chavez led to Venezuela’s almost complete dependence on oil exports, and the collapse of global oil prices in 2014 led to a rapid economic decline.
After Chavez’s death in 2013, then–Vice President Maduro assumed the presidency and was subsequently elected to office. His government attempted to address the economic crisis by printing money. This policy resulted in hyperinflation (the International Monetary Fund estimates that inflation could hit 10 million percent in 2019). By 2014, large-scale anti-government protests erupted across the country and, in 2015, voters expressed their dissatisfaction by electing the first opposition-controlled National Assembly in two decades.
Since the situation deteriorated and the crisis escalated in 2015, an estimated 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled the country; Venezuela’s neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean host approximately 2.7 million refugees, with nearly 1.5 million in Colombia. Estimates from the United Nations suggest that these numbers will increase, with 5.4 million projected to leave the country by the end of 2019. The exodus has also caused a regional humanitarian crisis, as neighboring governments are unable to absorb refugees and asylum seekers. Moreover, because the government has been unable to provide social services, Venezuelans face severe food and medicine shortages, as well as the continuing spread of infectious diseases.
As the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela escalates and the political situation deteriorates, the exodus of Venezuelans to neighboring countries is expected to continue. The strain on aid groups and regional governments to support refugees and asylum seekers may further expand what has already become a regional crisis. The United States has stated its interest in mitigating the humanitarian crisis and preventing further destabilization of the region.
Venezuela, World Food Program Reach School Meal Deal
The UN World Food Program said it reached an agreement with President Nicolas Maduro’s government to provide daily school meals for 185,000 children by the end of the year. One-third of Venezuelans are food insecure (Voice of America).
Venezuela to Ask UN to Help Remove Landmines
Officials will ask for UN assistance in removing landmines near the country’s border with Colombia, President Nicolas Maduro announced. Last week, two soldiers were killed by a landmine while conducting military operations against armed groups, Maduro’s government said (Reuters).
Venezuelan Soldiers Killed By Land Mine
The Defense Ministry announced that two soldiers were killed by a land mine as Venezuela continues an offensive against armed groups along its border with Colombia. Thousands of people have been displaced by the conflict (Reuters).
Human Rights Groups Call for UN Envoy at Venezuela and Colombia Border
Human rights groups called for the UN special envoy to resolve a border crisis caused by clashes between Venezuelan troops and Colombian armed groups. Four thousand people have fled the border area since March 21, with some alleging Venezuelan troops murdered civilians (Reuters).
Maduro Government Lashes Out at Facebook
Venezuela’s information ministry alleged “digital totalitarianism” after social media giant Facebook froze President Nicolas Maduro’s page for thirty days. Facebook said Maduro violated its rules against sharing misinformation about the coronavirus (Al Jazeera).
Venezuela’s Maduro Pushes for Digital Payments Amid Cash Shortage
President Nicolas Maduro is pushing banks to adopt digital payment systems amidst cash shortages. Only 2 percent of the country’s money supply is currently in circulation (Reuters).
UN Investigates Unlawful Killings in Venezuela
United Nations Human Rights experts said today that they are investigating two hundred killings allegedly committed by Venezuelan police so far this year (Reuters).
U.S. Grants Venezuelans Temporary Legal Residency
The Biden administration announced that Venezuelans already in the United States are eligible to apply for temporary protected status (TPS), which will allow them to live and work in the country for eighteen months. It will also review U.S. sanctions on Venezuela (Washington Post).
U.S. Commits to Reestablishing Democracy in Venezuela
Secretary of State Blinken told Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido that the United States is working with allies to increase pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s government and facilitate a power transition, the U.S. State Department said. The United States recognizes Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president (Miami Herald).
Venezuelan Court to Begin Trial of U.S. Citizen
A court ordered that a trial begin for Matthew Heath, a U.S. citizen arrested in September, Heath’s lawyer said. Heath, who Venezuelan officials allege is a U.S. spy, faces terrorism and arms-trafficking charges. The U.S. State Department urged a fair trial and condemned President Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarianism (Al Jazeera).
Venezuela Expels Head of EU Delegation Following Sanctions
Venezuela gave the head of the European Union’s delegation seventy-two hours to leave the country, following this week’s new round of EU sanctions on Venezuelan officials (Reuters).
EU Moves to Counter Authoritarianism in Venezuela
The European Union sanctioned nineteen Venezuelan officials over December legislative elections that the bloc says were undemocratic. EU foreign ministers have blacklisted fifty-five Venezuelans in total (MercoPress).
Maduro Alleges Disparity Between Private, Public Treatment by Trump Administration
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that his regime had “heaps of contacts” with the administration of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump, and that Trump-era exchanges were congenial. The Trump administration levied sanctions on Venezuela and publicly sought to force Maduro from office (Latin American Herald Tribune).
Venezuela Opposition Leader Asks EU for More Support
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez praised the EU’s backing of Venezuela’s opposition but contrasted its “declarative support” with material aid President Nicolas Maduro receives from countries such as China, Iran, and Russia. Lopez urged “very clear,” cohesive EU support to oust Maduro (Latin American Herald Tribune).
Colombia Grants Protections to Venezuelan Migrants, Refugees
Colombian President Ivan Duque announced that his country will grant ten-year protected immigration status to eligible undocumented Venezuelan migrants and refugees living there. More than half of the 1.7 million Venezuelans believed to be in Colombia are there illegally (BBC).
Trump Administration Takes Final Actions on Venezuela
Trump signed an executive order deferring the deportations of more than 145,000 Venezuelans for eighteen months. His administration also announced sanctions on several business entities and individuals accused of helping Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), evade earlier U.S. sanctions (Associated Press).
EU Stops Recognizing Venezuela’s Guaido
The EU revoked its recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Guaido lost his title as head of Venezuela’s National Assembly after allies of President Nicolas Maduro gained control of the body in December elections that observers condemned as fraudulent (Financial Times).
Maduro Allies Retake Control of Venezuela’s National Assembly
A new National Assembly dominated by members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) who are loyal to President Nicolas Maduro was installed yesterday. Allies of Maduro retook control of what was widely seen as the country’s last democratic institution after claiming victory in December elections that the opposition and international observers decried as fraudulent (Miami Herald).
Venezuela’s Oil Exports Lowest in Decades
The country’s oil exports plunged in 2020 as the United States imposed strict sanctions, sinking to levels not seen since the 1940s, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon and state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) (Reuters).
Venezuela’s Maduro: Legislature’s Term Extension Is Unconstitutional
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the opposition-controlled National Assembly’s move to extend its current session is unconstitutional and called on the judiciary to step in. The legislature extended its term after Maduro’s allies won a majority in an election earlier this month that was largely boycotted by the opposition (Reuters).
Venezuelan Legislature Extends Its Term After Disputed Vote
Venezuela’s opposition-held National Assembly voted to extend its term after President Nicolas Maduro’s allies won an overwhelming majority in an election earlier this month that was mostly boycotted by the opposition. The term extension will allow opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the United States and dozens of other countries recognize as Venezuela’s interim president, to remain speaker (Reuters).
Venezuela’s Maduro Shuts Pro-Government Legislative Assembly
President Nicolas Maduro announced that the National Constituent Assembly will cease operations by the end of the year. The pro-government legislature was widely criticized for undermining democracy after its creation in 2017. Maduro said the assembly was no longer necessary following his party’s victory in parliamentary elections earlier this month (Reuters).
Venezuela’s Maduro Consolidates Control in Parliamentary Elections
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s party and its allies won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly yesterday. Maduro already controlled the presidency, the courts, and the military (Washington Post). Only 31 percent of eligible voters participated, and poll stations were barren in an embarrassment for Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). The United States and many European nations said they would not recognize the results of the election, which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called a “sham” (Reuters). Regardless, the election will weaken the standing of opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the United States and many other countries recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate president and who boycotted the vote. Guaido’s claim to the presidency is predicated on his position as head of the National Assembly. The opposition will hold a referendum this week to ask Venezuelans whether they reject the results and want to end Maduro’s rule (Associated Press).
Venezuelan Opposition’s UK Ambassador Quits
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s envoy to the United Kingdom, Vanessa Neumann, resigned, saying that the future of Guaido’s leadership is unclear. The opposition is expected to lose control of the National Assembly, the country’s last democratically elected body, after elections this weekend (Financial Times).
Iran Seeks to Strengthen Ties with Venezuela
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Venezuela yesterday for a tour of Latin America that will also include stops in Bolivia and Cuba. He said Tehran is looking to boost ties with Caracas (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).
Opposition Activist Arrested in Venezuela
A leading opposition activist, Roland Carreno, was arrested for allegedly conspiring “against the democratic peace.” Opposition leader Juan Guaido alleged Carreno was forcibly disappeared. Rights groups say President Nicolas Maduro frequently arrests opposition members (Reuters).
Venezuelan Opposition Activist Flees
Leopoldo Lopez, a prominent Venezuelan opposition activist, fled the country and is traveling to Spain and then the United States, sources close to him said. Lopez heads opposition leader Juan Guaido’s political party (Miami Herald).
Venezuelans Flee Country on Foot
Thousands of Venezuelans are again fleeing the country, many on foot, after months of pandemic lockdown measures. Officials in neighboring Colombia expect two hundred thousand Venezuelans to enter the country in the coming months (Associated Press).
UN to Continue Investigating Rights Violations in Venezuela
Citing “widespread” political persecution, the UN Human Rights Council voted to extend its investigation of alleged rights violations in Venezuela for two years (Buenos Aires Times).
Venezuela’s Madruo Wins UK Court Appeal Over Access to Gold
President Nicolas Maduro successfully appealed a British court ruling that said the UK recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s leader and denied Maduro access to $1 billion worth of gold held by the Bank of England. The case will now go back to the UK High Court (BBC).
Iranian Tanker Delivers Fuel to Crisis-Stricken Venezuela
An Iran-flagged fuel tanker entered Venezuelan waters yesterday, and two others are expected to arrive in early October (Reuters). The shipments will help ease Venezuela’s worsening fuel crisis (Latin American Herald Tribune).
EU Officials Meet With Venezuela’s Dual Governments
EU officials met with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and with Juan Guaido, who the United States and over fifty other countries view as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, to discuss delaying the country’s controversial legislative elections. The United States accused the European bloc of subverting its isolationist policy toward Maduro (Washington Post).
UN Panel Accuses Maduro Regime of Crimes Against Humanity
UN investigators accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other high-ranking officials of crimes against humanity, including extrajudicial executions, the jailing of political rivals, and the torture of protesters (Wall Street Journal). They urged the International Criminal Court and other bodies to criminally investigate. Venezuela condemned the investigators’ report (teleSUR).
Venezuela Claims It Foiled Plot to Destabilize Country
The Venezuelan government claimed it foiled a plot to blow up oil and power facilities. The government said it detained eight alleged participants, including a U.S. citizen whom Attorney General Tarek William Saab accused of espionage (Washington Post).
Venezuelan Opposition Parties to Participate in Elections
The five opposition parties that make up Venezuela’s Democratic Alliance announced they will participate in the country’s December parliamentary election. Opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for a boycott of the election (teleSUR).
Venezuela’s Maduro Pardons More Than One Hundred Opposition Members
President Nicolas Maduro pardoned 110 opposition figures. Some recipients rebuffed the pardons as an attempt to boost the legitimacy of the country’s December legislative elections, which have attracted widespread criticism in Venezuela and abroad and divided the opposition (Washington Post).
Report: Venezuela Using Coronavirus to Crack Down on Dissent
Human Rights Watch said Venezuelan authorities have used the pandemic as a cover to crack down on dissent. Since a coronavirus-related state of emergency was declared in mid-March, dozens of health workers, human rights lawyers, journalists, and opposition figures have been arrested and prosecuted, it said (Guardian).
Russia Approves Loan to Venezuela
Russian President Vladimir Putin greenlit a $4 billion loan to cash-strapped Venezuela (MercoPress).
British Judge Denies Venezuela’s Maduro Access to Gold
A British judge refused to give Caracas access to more than $1 billion in gold held in a Bank of England vault because the UK does not recognize Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s president (Associated Press).
Venezuela’s Maduro Expels EU Diplomat After Sanctions
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the EU’s ambassador to leave the country after the bloc imposed sanctions on officials loyal to him (Associated Press).
U.S. Sanctions Iranian Ship Captains for Delivering Oil to Venezuela
The United States imposed sanctions on five Iranian ship captains for delivering oil to Venezuela and warned mariners against doing business with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters).
Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Blocking Payments to UN
Venezuela’s UN ambassador said U.S. sanctions prevented the country from making payments to the United Nations, causing Caracas to lose its voting rights at the General Assembly (Associated Press).
Venezuela’s Maduro Moves to Weaken Political Opposition
President Nicolas Maduro revoked the license of one of the country’s biggest political parties, giving control to an ally. Critics said the move is meant to weaken Maduro’s political opposition ahead of congressional elections (Wall Street Journal).
Venezuela’s Maduro Restricts Return of Migrants
President Nicolas Maduro is restricting the return of Venezuelan migrants, blaming them for the spread of the coronavirus (MercoPress).
U.S. Tightens Oil Sanctions on Venezuela
The Trump administration blacklisted four companies allegedly involved in Venezuela’s oil sector as it seeks to choke off funds to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Iran has recently begun shipping oil to the country (Wall Street Journal).
Advisor to Venezuela’s Guido Resigns Over Involvement in Botched Raid
An advisor to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido resigned over his involvement in a failed paramilitary operation against President Nicolas Maduro. The advisor was linked to Silvercorp, a private security firm owned by the former U.S. Green Beret who allegedly orchestrated the attack, which resulted in the capture of two U.S. citizens (Miami Herald).
U.S., Guaido Deny Link to Venezuelan ‘Incursion’
The U.S. State Department and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido denied links to a maritime operation that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed was a failed coup attempt. Maduro said authorities arrested two U.S. citizens (CNN).
Venezuelan Authorities Detain Two U.S. Citizens
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reported that security forces had captured two U.S. citizens involved in a reported recent invasion attempt. Authorities also announced that they had arrested thirteen other individuals with connections to the failed incursion (Reuters).
Venezuela’s Maduro Says Foiled Maritime Invasion
Venezuela says it foiled an attempted maritime “invasion” from its Caribbean coast, killing eight people. A former Venezuelan military official and a former U.S. Green Beret released a video claiming responsibility for the offensive, which they said was not backed by the U.S. military nor the Venezuelan opposition (Washington Post).
Venezuela Depleting Gold Reserves to Pay Iran For Support
Venezuelan officials sent $500 million worth of gold bars to Iran in April in exchange for assistance with operations at Venezuelan oil refineries, according to a new report. This leaves Venezuela with $6.3 billion in hard-currency assets, a three-decade low (Bloomberg).
Venezuela Suggests Major Reforms of Oil Industry
The government announced that Venezuela would move to privatize parts of the country’s petroleum sector and limit the involvement of the state oil company PDVSA in order to increase Caracas’s oil production (Wall Street Journal).
Venezuela Appoints New Oil Minister
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro designated Tareck El Aissami, the recent Minister of Industries and National Production, as the country’s new oil minister. The United States previously sanctioned El Aissami on charges of drug trafficking and recently accused him of breaching these sanctions in a March 2020 indictment of Maduro and other high-level Venezuelan officials for narcotics-related charges (Wall Street Journal).
Venezuela’s Guaido, Maduro Reportedly in Secret Talks
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido have held secret talks on rapprochement in the face of an impending coronavirus crisis and fuel shortages, according to a report (Reuters).
Washington Reportedly Tells Firms to Avoid Sending Gas to Venezuela
U.S. officials told firms that have energy swap agreements with Venezuela to avoid sending gasoline to the country even amid chronic shortages there. The UN human rights chief and U.S. lawmakers have urged the White House to ease sanctions on Venezuela as it faces the coronavirus (Reuters).
Targeting Venezuela, Washington Doubles U.S. Military Deployments in the Caribbean
The White House announced yesterday it will double U.S. military assets in the Caribbean, including destroyers, surveillance planes, and troops, in an anti-drug offensive targeting Venezuela. The move comes in the wake of a recent U.S. indictment of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and members of his regime on charges of narcoterrorism (Associated Press).
Washington Presents Framework for Political Transition in Venezuela
The U.S. State Department presented a plan for a political transition in Venezuela that would remove U.S. sanctions (State Department). The plan calls for a transitional leadership council chosen by coalitions with majorities in Congress, the departure of foreign security forces, and elections in six to twelve months. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido thanked Washington for the plan, while President Nicolas Maduro’s foreign minister rejected it (Miami Herald).
Russian Oil Firm Sells Assets in Venezuela
State-backed Russian oil firm Rosneft sold all its Venezuelan assets to a company that is fully owned by the Russian government. The move is seen by some as a strategy to avoid U.S. sanctions (Associated Press).
Washington Indicts Venezuelan President, Offers Reward for Capture
U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the indictment of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and several other Venezuelan officials on narcoterrorism and drug trafficking charges, offering a $15 million reward for Maduro’s capture (Washington Post).
United States Charges Former Venezuelan Officials
U.S. prosecutors unsealed criminal cases against two former officials at Venezuela’s state-owned oil company in a new round of charges against Nicolas Maduro’s government (Wall Street Journal).
Venezuelan Authorities Repress Opposition March
Caracas police fired tear gas at demonstrators called upon by opposition leader Juan Guaido to protest the government of Nicolas Maduro (New York Times).
Venezuelan Elections to Proceed Despite Burned Voting Machines
Venezuelan election officials said a parliamentary poll planned for later this year will proceed despite the destruction of nearly fifty thousand voting machines in a warehouse fire (Associated Press).
Brazil Pulls Diplomats From Venezuela
Brazil recalled all of its diplomats and foreign service officials from Venezuela in a loosening of official ties with Nicolas Maduro’s government (Agence France-Presse).
United States Planning New Venezuela Sanctions
U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams stated that Washington would impose additional sanctions on importers of Venezuelan oil in Asia and firms that helped the Maduro regime to smuggle its oil into the market (Reuters).
Washington Sanctions Russian Oil Firm for Supporting Venezuela’s Maduro
Washington added the Russian oil firm Rosneft and its top executive to an economic sanctions blacklist for supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (State Department).
Venezuela Asks ICC to Investigate U.S. Officials
Caracas petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate U.S. officials for sanctions that it says constitute crimes against humanity, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said (Reuters).
Venezuelan Government Arrests Uncle of Opposition Leader
Venezuelan security officials detained Juan Jose Marquez, the uncle of opposition leader Juan Guaido, on charges of smuggling prohibited items on an international flight. The State Department condemned the move as a “kidnapping” and called for his immediate release (BBC).
Venezuela’s Guaido Meets With President Trump
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido met with President Donald Trump at the White House yesterday following Guaido’s attendance of the State of the Union address. Guaido also met with Vice President Trump and Senator Marco Rubio separately before the meeting (NBC News).
Trinidad Withdraws From Natural Gas Agreement with Venezuela
Trinidadian Prime Minister Keith Rowley stated that the country would not proceed with a project to jointly develop a natural gas field with Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA. Trinidad and Venezuela will choose to develop this field separately from one another (Reuters).
Colombia Rejects Venezuelan Call for Restored Ties
Colombian President Ivan Duque rejected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s call for their countries to resume diplomatic relations, citing Venezuela’s “constant aggressions” against its detractors (Reuters).
Colombia to Grant Work Permits to Venezuelan Migrants
Colombia will offer work permits to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants living in the country, the federal migration agency announced (Reuters).
Program Launched to Help Venezuelan Migrants Settle in Brazil
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the IOM launched an initiative worth more than $4 million to help Venezuelan migrants settle in Brazil (Reuters).
United States Sanctions Venezuelan Officials
Washington sanctioned seven current and former officials loyal to President Nicolas Maduro who were involved in delaying a recent election in Venezuela’s parliament (State Department).
Venezuela’s Maduro Aims to Grant Allies Control of Oil Assets
President Nicolas Maduro wants allied countries such as Russia to be able to exchange defaulted Venezuelan bonds for stakes in state-backed oil assets, legislators from his Socialist Party said (Reuters).
Venezuela’s Guaido Sworn In as Parliament Speaker
Opposition leader Juan Guaido was sworn in for a second term as speaker of Venezuela’s parliament after the national guard initially blocked him from entering the building (Agence France-Presse).
Venezuelan Forces Bar Opposition From Key Vote
Venezuelan security forces barred opposition leader Juan Guaido and his supporters from entering the legislature during a vote to elect its new head of congress. Those present elected a supporter of President Nicolas Maduro, while the opposition denounced the vote as illegitimate (Reuters).
Trump’s Personal Lawyer Attempted Negotiations With Venezuela’s Maduro
U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani participated in a phone call with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in September 2018, and tried to negotiate Maduro’s exit from power and open Venezuela to foreign business, according to a new report. Giuliani’s efforts contradicted the United States’ official hard-line approach toward Venezuela at the time (Washington Post).
Economic Opening Eases Venezuelan Crisis
Venezuela’s economic free fall slowed after the removal of some price controls, with its monthly rate of inflation dropping to 35.8 percent in November after reaching a peak of 233.3 percent in September of 2018, according to a report (Washington Post).
Venezuelan Officials Meet With U.S. Creditors
President Nicolas Maduro and top officials are holding a series of meetings with U.S. creditors in an effort to pay back debts by granting them Venezuelan oil rights, according to a report (Bloomberg).
Venezuelan Opposition Leader Calls for Fresh Protests
Juan Guaido, who declared himself Venezuela’s president in January, called for a new wave of protests against President Nicolas Maduro during a rally in Caracas that attracted tens of thousands of people. Maduro supporters held a rival rally (Financial Times).
UN Leads Broad Effort to Aid Venezuelan Migrants
The UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration are set to launch a coordinated response plan to support the estimated 6.5 million Venezuelans who will have fled their country by next year. The agencies have called for $1.35 billion in funding (United Nations).
Guatemala’s President-Elect to Cut Ties With Venezuela’s Maduro
Incoming President Alejandro Giammattei, who takes office in mid-January, told reporters that he will recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s president and cut all diplomatic ties with Nicolas Maduro’s government (Reuters).
Venezuela’s Maduro Raises Minimum Wage
President Nicolas Maduro raised the minimum wage by 275 percent, the third hike this year amid hyperinflation, and decreed that workers will receive new food bonuses (Bloomberg).
Washington Readies New Cuba Sanctions Over Support for Venezuela’s Maduro
The United States is preparing fresh sanctions on Cuba over its support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, according to U.S. special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams. The sanctions will likely target the tourism sector and Venezuelan oil imports (Reuters).
United States Restricts Travel for Venezuelan Officials
President Donald J. Trump signed a new order that bans senior Venezuelan officials and their families from entering the United States (BBC).
Moscow Backs Venezuela Peace Talks
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met with Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Moscow, where Putin said he supports dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition to bring an end to the political crisis in Venezuela (Reuters). Separately, former Venezuelan intelligence chief General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher claims that he personally provided Maduro with details of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) presence within Venezuela last November (Washington Post).
Latin American Nations Agree on Venezuela Sanctions
Sixteen countries voted to impose sanctions on members of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime to pressure Maduro to leave power. The Lima Group, a multilateral body coordinating a regional response to the Venezuelan crisis, said it does not support the use of military force (Reuters).
Divide Emerges in Venezuelan Opposition
Several smaller opposition parties have agreed to direct negotiations with President Nicolas Maduro’s government after opposition leader Juan Guaido announced that a Norway-brokered peace process had been exhausted. Guaido called the decision a “maneuver” by Maduro’s regime to split the opposition (Associated Press).
EU to Give Colombia Aid for Venezuelan Migrants
The European Union will give $33 million for Colombian efforts to support Venezuelans who have fled their country, announced EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (Reuters).
U.S. Increases Aid for Venezuelan Migrants
The White House announced $120 million in new humanitarian aid for migrants fleeing Venezuela, bringing total U.S. assistance for the crisis to more than $375 million since fiscal year 2017 (U.S. State Department).
United States Opens Venezuelan Affairs Office in Colombia
The U.S. State Department announced it is opening an office in its embassy in Colombia that will focus on the crisis in Venezuela, signaling support for a diplomatic solution to the political impasse in the country (Financial Times).
Tens of Thousands of Venezuelans Enter Ecuador
The Colombian government reported that more than eighty-five thousand Venezuelan migrants entered Ecuador from Colombia in the last month, prior to visa restrictions implemented by Ecuador yesterday (Reuters). Separately, ten countries have agreed to provide vaccination cards that will be recognized across the region to Venezuelan migrants beginning in October, health officials announced (Reuters).
Ecuador Tightens Entry Requirements for Venezuelans
Venezuelans will require a visa to enter the country beginning today. Up to three thousand Venezuelan migrants per day entered Ecuador over the past week, the United Nations said (Financial Times).
Maduro Regime Weighs New Elections in U.S. Talks
Representatives from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime have been holding back-channel talks with U.S. negotiators to discuss the terms of possible new elections, according to reports. Venezuelan officials are reportedly seeking safety guarantees in the case the regime loses power (Wall Street Journal).
United States and Venezuela Confirm Secret Contacts
U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro confirmed that secret talks have been underway to resolve Venezuela’s political crisis (Al Jazeera).
Venezuelan Leaders Say New Elections an Option
Allies of Venezuela’s socialist government reportedly said that holding a presidential election in the coming months may be considered in order to resolve the country’s political crisis. Separately, opposition leaders will visit the United States this week to meet with U.S. officials (Reuters). Finally, the U.S. military announced that it is now planning for “the day after” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro leaves power (Associated Press).
United States Reportedly in Contact With Senior Venezuelan Official
Diosdado Cabello, who is considered the second most powerful person in Venezuela’s socialist government, met in July with someone in close contact with U.S. officials. A second meeting is currently being planned (Associated Press). The conversation included a discussion over guarantees for Maduro insiders (Associated Press). Separately, the United Nations appealed for increased humanitarian aid for Venezuelan refugees (Reuters).
Venezuelan Torture Cases Increase
A crackdown on dissent by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government has increasingly included torture of military officers, according to a Caracas-based monitoring group. The group counted 250 cases of torture against members of the military, their relatives, and opposition activists since 2017 (New York Times). Separately, Venezuela’s opposition-run congress announced yesterday that it will create a commission to renegotiate the country’s debt (Reuters).
Venezuelan Government Charges Lawmakers With Treason
The Venezuelan Supreme Court, filled with judges seen as loyalists to President Nicolas Maduro, stripped three opposition lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity and charged them with treason (Latin American Herald Tribune). Separately, a pro-Maduro legislative body that rivals the opposition-controlled National Assembly said it will create a commission to look into holding 2020 elections early (Reuters).
Venezuelan Government Reportedly Preparing to Dissolve Opposition-Run Legislature
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said yesterday that the Venezuelan government is preparing to call for new legislative elections and dissolve the opposition-run legislature (Reuters).
Maduro Halts Talks With Venezuelan Opposition
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro canceled plans for a delegation to travel to Barbados for a round of talks with the country’s opposition, criticizing opposition leader Juan Guaido for celebrating sweeping U.S. sanctions (Latin American Herald Tribune). Caracas said it was open to continuing the talks in the future, while the head negotiator for the opposition tweeted that Maduro’s administration fears “the possibility of a real political change in the country” (Associated Press).
United States Warns Against Doing Business With Venezuelan Government
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton warned countries and threatened sanctions against international companies continuing to do business with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government (Reuters). Separately, Russia’s foreign ministry said that the U.S. freeze of Venezuelan assets implemented yesterday is illegal (Reuters).
United States Imposes Embargo Against Venezuelan Regime
U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order freezing all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and prohibiting transactions with the regime (Wall Street Journal). U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be among representatives from about sixty countries meeting in Lima, Peru, today to discuss the Venezuelan crisis (Agence France-Presse). Separately, John Bolton warned China and Russia against increasing support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters).
U.S. Officials Announce Plan to Rebuild Venezuelan Economy
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced a plan to rebuild Venezuela’s economy under democratic rule, contingent on the removal of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Wall Street Journal). Separately, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he was considering a blockade of Venezuela to increase pressure for Maduro to step down (Reuters). Finally, officials from Maduro’s government met with opposition leaders in Barbados to attempt to negotiate a political settlement (Reuters).
Colombia: Venezuela is Terrorist Sanctuary
Colombian President Ivan Duque said yesterday that, under Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has become a terrorist and drug trafficking sanctuary. The statement comes after Maduro announced that two former commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were welcome in Venezuela despite being wanted by Colombian judicial authorities (Reuters).
United States Renews Chevron’s Venezuela License
Despite recent sanctions, the United States renewed Chevron’s operating license in Venezuela for three months. Chevron is the last U.S. oil company operating in Venezuela and has been in Venezuela for nearly one hundred years (Reuters). Separately, the United States issued new sanctions against Colombian businesses accused of money-laundering operations that support the Venezuelan government (Wall Street Journal).
Venezuelan Opposition Rejoins Regional Defense Treaty
Venezuela’s National Assembly, led by opposition leader Juan Guaido, rejoined the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance yesterday. The move is thought to precede a request for foreign military intervention to unseat Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters). Separately, Russia announced yesterday that it has been in contact with Venezuela’s opposition movement (Reuters). Finally, Juan Guaido reported that he would preserve Chevron Corp’s assets in Venezuela should the United States fail to renew its operating license (Reuters).
Venezuela Blames Power Outage on Electromagnetic Attack
Venezuela’s government blamed a major power outage on an electromagnetic attack, in the first blackout to affect Caracas since March when the government blamed the outage on a U.S. electromagnetic attack (Reuters). Power returned to the capital today, but more than half of Venezuela’s twenty-four states remain without power (Reuters).
Venezuelan Plane Shadows U.S. Aircraft
According to the U.S. military, a Russian-made Venezuelan fighter shadowed a U.S. Navy EP-3 plane at an unsafe distance in international territory (Reuters). The United States rejected Venezuelan claims that the plane entered Venezuelan airspace unannounced (Bloomberg).
European Union Prepares Sanctions for Venezuela
Yesterday, the European Union announced that it is preparing its next round of sanctions targeting Venezuelan security forces on grounds of human rights violations (Al Jazeera). Separately, Venezuela released Karen Palacios, a musician detained after criticizing Maduro’s government on social media (Associated Press). Lastly, the United States reportedly allocated forty million dollars for humanitarian aid to support Venezuela’s opposition (Reuters).
Venezuelan Government and Opposition Continue Talks
Yesterday, Venezuela’s opposition announced it will continue talks with the government to resolve the country’s political crisis. This development follows a meeting in Barbados last week mediated by Norway (Reuters). Separately, the Colombian paramilitary group the National Liberation Army has reportedly expanded its operations in Venezuela, receiving sanctuary in exchange for supporting Venezuela’s government-aligned paramilitaries (Wall Street Journal).
Venezuelan Death Squads Revealed; Peace Talks to Resume
The United Nations reported that Venezuelan security forces have used death squads to murder thousands of young men (Reuters). Separately, Venezuela released twenty-two prisoners amidst UN calls for humanitarian relief (Reuters). As well, Russia announced its intent to bolster Venezuela’s armed forces (Reuters). Representatives from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime and the Venezuelan opposition are slated to resume talks in Barbados this week (Reuters).
Venezuela’s Maduro: Ready for Talks; Opposition Leader Guaido: Cannot Negotiate with Dictator
Yesterday, after opposition leader Juan Guaido announced that the time would never be right for negotiating with a dictator, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro indicated he was still committed to talks to achieve a political settlement (Reuters).
Venezuela Charges Officials Over Captain’s Death
Two Venezuelan intelligence officials have been charged with homicide in the death of naval officer Rafael Acosta. Acosta’s wife and rights groups said he was tortured in detention, and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for a full investigation (Reuters).
Venezuelan Navy Captain Dies in Custody
Captain Rafael Acosta died in a military hospital while detained by Venezuela’s intelligence service for allegedly plotting to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (BBC).
Regional Bloc Divided Over Venezuela
At the Organization of American States’ assembly in Medellin yesterday, several countries criticized the presence of a delegation sent by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. President Nicolas Maduro withdrew Venezuela from the body in 2017. This week’s summit aims to chart a regional approach to Venezuela (Financial Times).
Venezuelan Minister Accuses the United States of Foiled Coup Attempt
Jorge Rodriguez, communications minister for the Venezuelan government, claimed that Venezuelan authorities foiled a violent coup plot against Nicolas Maduro and other top officials. Rodriguez implicated the United States, as well as Israel, Colombia, and Venezuela’s former spy chief, in designing the coup (Washington Post).
Former Ally of Venezuela’s Maduro Arrives in United States
Yesterday, General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, former security chief under Hugo Chávez and intelligence chief under Nicolás Maduro, arrived in the United States to inform U.S. officials of Maduro’s activity (Washington Post).
Venezuela Detains Officials
Days after the United Nations urged Venezuela to release prisoners detained for peaceful protests, Venezuelan authorities arrested six military and police officials (Reuters).
Venezuelan Refugees Joining Armed Groups in Colombia
Venezuelan refugees are joining the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) militant groups, as well as right-wing paramilitaries, in exchange for food and pay, five Colombian military commanders said. They estimated that 10 percent of militants nationwide are Venezuelan (Reuters).
Venezuela Frees Prisoner and Receives Medical Aid
Venezuela freed opposition activist Gilber Caro ahead of a visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Reuters). Separately, a second shipment of Red Cross humanitarian aid arrived in Venezuela, containing medical supplies and hospital generators (Agence France-Presse).
Venezuelan Asylum Seekers on Rise in Europe
More than fourteen thousand Venezuelans filed for asylum in the European Union last year, according to the EU’s asylum agency. The total puts Venezuela ahead of Afghanistan and now only behind Syria in terms of asylum applications to the bloc (Deutsche Welle).
Maduro Regime Reopens Colombia Border
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans crossed into Colombia to buy food, medicine, and other necessities after President Nicolas Maduro reopened the border with the country on Saturday. The border had been closed since February, when opposition figure Juan Guaido led efforts to bring U.S. aid into the country (BBC).
Putin Says No Plan to Send Troops to Venezuela
President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that there is no plan to send troops to Venezuela to bolster President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, but that Moscow will continue to fulfill contractual obligations to the country regarding military and technical cooperation (Associated Press).
Pompeo Recording Details Difficultly in Keeping Venezuelan Opposition United
In a leaked recording of a closed-door meeting in New York last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said efforts to unite the Venezuelan opposition have “proven devilishly difficult” and that at least forty opponents of President Nicolas Maduro believe they should be his successor (Washington Post).
Canada Shuts Venezuela Embassy
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada had “no choice” but to suspend its embassy operations in Caracas since President Nicolas Maduro’s regime has refused to renew accreditation for its diplomats. Canada has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s leader since January (Deutsche Welle).
Colombia to Distribute U.S. Aid Meant for Venezuela
The Colombian government said U.S. humanitarian aid that was sent in February and was destined for Venezuela will instead be provided to Venezuelan migrants in the neighboring country, as well as to Colombians in need of assistance. U.S. officials and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido were involved in the decision (Associated Press).
Venezuela Talks in Oslo End Without Deal
The opposition said that, during a second round of talks with government envoys in Norway, it laid out a roadmap to end President Nicolas Maduro’s regime and install a transitional government, but that the negotiations concluded without agreement. Maduro said on TV that his government seeks a peace deal through dialogue (Deutsche Welle).
Venezuela Publishes Rare Data on Economy
The central bank published economic statistics for the first time since 2015 (Wall Street Journal). The economy contracted about 19 percent in the first nine months of 2018, and the country suffered six-figure hyperinflation over the whole year, according to the data (Latin American Herald Tribune).
Venezuela’s Maduro Proposes Early Legislative Election
President Nicolas Maduro called for an early election for the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which he said was the only governing body that has “not been legitimized in the last five years” (Reuters).
Venezuelan Opposition Hires Top Debt Attorney
Venezuela’s opposition, led by National Assembly President Juan Guaido, has hired attorney Lee Buchheit to facilitate the restructuring of Venezuela’s $150 billion debt burden. Buchheit, a U.S. citizen, has worked on similar cases in Russia, Uruguay, and Greece. The move comes as the opposition has held talks in Norway with President Nicolas Maduro’s regime (Financial Times).
Venezuelan Parties Continue Peace Talks
President Nicolas Maduro said his government will reveal details about talks with the opposition in Norway after his information minister returns to Venezuela today. The two sides met with envoys from the International Contact Group, which is made up of European and Latin American countries seeking to resolve the crisis in Venezuela (Associated Press).
Venezuelan Regime, Opposition Reportedly in Oslo for Talks
President Nicolas Maduro said his information minister, Jorge Rodriguez, is on a mission abroad but did not provide further details (Associated Press). Unnamed opposition members said the two sides were holding exploratory talks in Norway. Norwegian media reported that the talks are taking place in an undisclosed location and are expected to conclude on Thursday (Agence France-Presse).
Rights Group Reports ‘Systematic’ Repression in Venezuela by Maduro Regime
Abuses by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, including extrajudicial executions and arbitrary detentions, may constitute crimes against humanity, according to a new report by Amnesty International. The rights group said security forces repressed and attacked perceived opponents across the country, particularly in poor areas (Amnesty International).
U.S., Venezuela Spar Over Embassy Standoff
The United States ordered the eviction of activists occupying Venezuela’s Washington embassy who said they were there at the invitation of President Nicolas Maduro’s government (Latin American Herald Tribune). Venezuela’s vice foreign minister called the U.S. move a violation of international law. Washington recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president (CNN).
Venezuela’s Guaido Asks for Relations With U.S. Military
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has sought to oust President Nicolas Maduro, said at a Saturday rally that he told his envoy in the United States to open “direct communications” regarding U.S. military coordination with the opposition (Associated Press).
Venezuelan Opposition Figures Seek Refuge
Two opposition lawmakers sought shelter at the Argentine and Italian embassies in Caracas yesterday after the country’s supreme court stripped them and their colleagues of immunity and said they should be investigated for treason (Reuters).
Venezuelan Opposition Leader’s Deputy Arrested
Security forces towed the car carrying Edgar Zambrano, the vice president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, and detained him after he refused to exit his vehicle yesterday. President Nicolas Maduro’s regime accused Zambrano of being involved in a failed coup attempt last week led by the opposition leader Juan Guaido (Guardian).
U.S. to Deploy Hospital Ship for Venezuelans
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the USNS Comfort, a military hospital ship, will begin a five-month deployment in June to provide care for Venezuelan refugees across Latin America (Miami Herald). Pence also said Washington will consider lifting sanctions on top Venezuelan military officials who break with President Nicolas Maduro (New York Times).
Pence to Lay Out Incentives for Venezuela
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, in a speech today, is expected to lay out incentives for Venezuela’s armed forces to abandon President Nicolas Maduro in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido. He is also expected to announce new sanctions on top Venezuelan judges (Reuters).
Pompeo to Meet With Russia’s Lavrov to Discuss Venezuela
An unnamed State Department official said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, will discuss the situation in Venezuela on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in Finland next week (Associated Press). Separately, he Spanish government said it has no intention of turning over opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez and that it expects President Nicolas Maduro’s regime to “respect the inviolability” of the residence of Spain’s ambassador in Caracas, where Lopez has taken refuge. Venezuela’s supreme court issued an arrest warrant for Lopez, who was freed from house arrest earlier this week by dissident members of the military (El Pais).
Venezuela’s Guaido Urges Military to Defect
Opposition leader Juan Guaido acknowledged that his calls this week for an uprising against President Nicolas Maduro did not draw enough support from the Venezuelan military and said “we have to insist that all the armed forces protest together” (CNN). Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that U.S. military action to back Guaido is possible (Voice of America).
U.S.-Backed Opposition Makes Push for Maduro’s Ouster
Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared President Juan Guaido called for a second day of protests and again urged the military to break with President Nicolas Maduro following bloody clashes as Guaido led an attempt to oust the regime yesterday (Associated Press). One man died after he was shot during protests in Aragua State, and dozens of people across the country were injured from live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas, according to a Caracas-based monitoring group (Washington Post).
Venezuela’s Guaido Leads Offensive to Oust Maduro
Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, outside a Caracas air base with dozens of men in military uniform, said the armed forces took “the correct decision” to assist the opposition in forcing out President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters). Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the government was facing a small coup attempt led by military traitors (Associated Press). Separately, Peru yesterday deported a group of more than forty Venezuelan migrants (Reuters).
Lima Group Diplomats Walk Out During UN Speech
Dozens of diplomats from countries across the Americas that back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido walked out of an address by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to the UN General Assembly yesterday. Arreaza called the move “discriminatory and unacceptable” (Agence France-Presse).
U.S. Announces Sanction on Venezuela, Other Socialist Governments
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton announced a raft of new measures meant to tighten the screws on Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, including sanctions on Venezuela’s central bank and on a Nicaraguan bank Bolton described as a “slush fund” for President Daniel Ortega (CNN).
Red Cross Delivers Aid to Venezuela
President Nicolas Maduro said the aid delivery was coordinated with his government, which had previously denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis and blocked an effort by the opposition and the United States to deliver aid in February (Associated Press).
China Rebukes Pompeo for Venezuela Remarks
The Chinese foreign ministry accused the United States of “treating Latin America as its backyard” through “pressure, threat or even subversion.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China last week of prolonging the crisis in Venezuela by financially supporting the government of President Nicolas Maduro (Guardian).
Pompeo Renews Call for Maduro Ouster From Venezuela
Speaking at the Columbia-Venezuela border, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again called for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down and allow humanitarian aid to enter the country, reiterating that “all options are on the table” to oust Maduro after visiting a center for Venezuelan migrants alongside Colombian President Ivan Duque (Miami Herald). Over the weekend Maduro proposed adding a million people to the country’s civilian militia in order to “defend the fatherland” (Reuters).
Venezuela Vows to Continue Oil Flow to Cuba
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Caracas will “fulfill its commitments” to supply Cuba with subsidized oil despite new U.S. sanctions targeting thirty-four vessels used by Venezuela’s state oil company (Reuters).
Iranian Airline Begins Direct Flights to Venezuela
Private Iranian airline Mahan Air announced it began direct flights to Caracas to transport foreign ministry officials from Tehran. Several European countries have accused the airline of transporting weapons and personnel to Syria and other conflict areas (Reuters).
Venezuelan Minister Meets With Syria’s Assad
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, in Damascus yesterday, commended Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for what he called a victory over terrorism in the country’s civil war. He also said both of their countries “fight against U.S. conspiracies and imperialism” (Associated Press).
Report Details Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela, Calls for UN Emergency Response
In a new report, Human Rights Watch and Johns Hopkins University researchers said the Venezuelan government has proven unable to address the humanitarian crisis in the country and has “in fact exacerbated it through their efforts to suppress information about the scale and urgency of the problems.” The report called for a major UN-led emergency response (Human Rights Watch).
Venezuelan Lawmakers Move to Prosecute Guaido
Members of the Constituent Assembly, a body aligned with President Nicolas Maduro, voted to override Juan Guaido’s parliamentary immunity, possibly paving the way for his arrest. The Constituent Assembly is a rival of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, of which Guaido, who claims to be Venezuela’s legitimate president, is the leader (Reuters).
Venezuela Moves to Lift Opposition Leader’s Immunity
Venezuela’s supreme court ruled that the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, is in contempt of the law for defying a court-imposed travel ban and that an assembly loyal to President Nicolas Maduro’s regime will vote on whether to remove Guaido’s parliamentary immunity from prosecution (Latin American Herald Tribune).
Red Cross to Begin Venezuela Aid Deliveries
International Federation of the Red Cross chief Francesco Rocca said the humanitarian group expected to deliver food and medicine to 650,000 people in two weeks, working on the basis of “impartiality, neutrality and independence” (BBC).
Caracas Bans U.S.-Backed Venezuelan Opposition Leader From Public Office
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s embattled regime announced it has banned opposition leader Juan Guaido from public office for fifteen years (Agence France-Press). The state’s comptroller accused Guaido, who declared himself as interim president in January and is backed by dozens of countries including the United States, of taking gifts from foreign states and having inconsistencies in his personal finances (CNN). Also yesterday, Moscow and Caracas confirmed the deployment of Russian military personnel to Venezuela but said they would not take part in any military operations (Reuters).
Trump: Russia ‘Has to Get Out’ of Venezuela
At the White House yesterday with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, President Trump said Moscow is aware of U.S. opposition to its military presence in Venezuela and called on the country to stay out of the conflict (New York Times).
Venezuelan Schools, Businesses Closed Amid Second Blackout
President Nicolas Maduro said the power outage, which has affected much of the country’s western half since Monday, was due to an attack on electrical infrastructure. Power returned to most of the capital of Caracas by Tuesday afternoon (Reuters).
Parts of Venezuela Hit Again by Blackout
Much of Caracas and other parts of Venezuela lost power yesterday. The government blamed the outage on an “attack on the charging and transmission center” at the hydroelectric plant that supplies power to 80 percent of the country, while the opposition accused the Maduro regime of trying to “disinform and create anxiety.” A nationwide blackout earlier this month lasted for a week (Agence France-Presse).
Russian Aircraft Reportedly Land in Caracas
Russia military aircraft reportedly arrived in Venezuela, where officials are expected to discuss equipment maintenance, training, and cooperation between the allies, according to an unnamed Venezuelan official (Reuters).
UN Rights Chief Warns Over Venezuela Sanctions
UN human rights chief Michelle Bahelet warned that U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company announced in January could have repercussions for ordinary Venezuelans’ “basic rights and wellbeing,” though she noted that the country’s economic crisis was underway before the United States imposed sanctions (Associated Press). Separately, opposition leader Juan Guaido’s chief of staff was detained by Venezuelan intelligence officers early today, according to Guaido and other opposition lawmakers (New York Times).
Venezuela Opposition Leader Begins National Tour
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president and is backed by the United States and dozens of other countries, began a national tour, called Operation Freedom, to rally support for a march on the presidential palace in Caracas (Agence France-Presse).
Venezuelan Opposition to Appeal ConocoPhillips Ruling
The attorney general newly appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela, said he will appeal to a decision by the World Bank’s arbitration tribunal to award $8.75 billion to ConocoPhillips over the Venezuelan government’s 2007 confiscation of two of its crude oil projects (Bloomberg).
Venezuelan Minister Says Power Restored
The information minister said yesterday that power had been restored after a week-long blackout that affected most of the country. President Nicolas Maduro’s regime blamed opposition leader Juan Guaido and the United States for the outage (CNN).
Maduro Regime Accuses Guaido Over Blackout in Venezuela
Attorney General Tarek William Saab said opposition leader Juan Guaido is under investigation for sabotaging the national power grid. Separately, Colombia’s migration director said a cousin of President Nicolas Maduro attempted to enter the country during the blackout, which has affected much of Venezuela over the past week, but Bogota refused his entry (Associated Press).
U.S. Pulls Diplomatic Staff From Venezuela
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the withdrawal of all remaining diplomatic staff in Venezuela, citing the deteriorating situation in the country. Pompeo said their presence has become a “constraint on U.S. policy” (CNN).
Fears Run High Amid Blackout in Venezuela
President Nicolas Maduro’s government announced that schools and businesses will be closed today as a blackout affecting much of the country entered its fourth day (Reuters). Opposition leader Juan Guaido said he will call for a national emergency declaration in parliament (CNN).
Blackout Leaves Most of Venezuela in Darkness
At least eighteen of Venezuela’s twenty-three states were affected by a blackout yesterday that appeared to be due to an apparent failure at a hydroelectric plant in Bolivar State. Members of President Nicolas Maduro’s regime blamed the outage on sabotage by the opposition and the United States (Guardian).
U.S. Reporter, His Assistant Detained in Venezuela
American journalist Cody Weddle was arrested and detained in Caracas yesterday before being deported (local10). His assistant, a Venezuelan citizen, was also detained. Separately, President Nicolas Maduro ordered the expulsion of Germany’s ambassador to Venezuela for his support of opposition leader Juan Guaido (Guardian).
Venezuela’s Guaido Calls for Strike
Opposition leader Juan Guaido met with about a hundred representatives of state workers unions yesterday and called for rolling strikes to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s regime (Washington Post).
Venezuela’s Guaido Returns to Caracas
Opposition figure and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido returned to Venezuela after spending close to a week abroad with regional allies despite a court travel ban. He was met by foreign diplomats at the airport, and President Nicolas Maduro’s regime made no immediate attempt to arrest him (New York Times).
Venezuela Resolutions Fail at UN Security Council
A U.S.-drafted resolution calling for a new presidential election in Venezuela was vetoed by Russia and China. At the same time, a Russia-drafted resolution affirming the government of President Nicolas Maduro’s authority to initiate international assistance failed to garner enough support (Reuters).
Venezuela Continues to Ship Oil, Despite U.S. Sanctions
Oil minister Manuel Quevedo told an energy conference in Saudi Arabia that Venezuelan oil exports stand at 1.2 billion barrels per day despite U.S. sanctions. A London-based shipment tracker noted higher sales to India and the United Kingdom (Wall Street Journal).
Guaido to Return to Venezuela
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January, said he will return to the country “despite the risks.” Guaido defied a court travel ban last week by traveling to Colombia to assist international efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuelans (Reuters). U.S. special envoy Elliott Abrams said Washington will soon announce new U.S. sanctions on high-ranking officials in President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, as well as individuals who handle their finances (Voice of America).
Univision Reporters to Be Deported From Venezuela
The U.S. television network said one of its news teams was briefly detained by Venezuelan authorities and is being deported following an interview with President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro halted the reporters’ questioning after they showed him footage of Venezuelans eating from a garbage truck, according to lead reporter Jorge Ramos (Reuters).
Pence to Meet With Venezuelan Opposition Leader in Bogota
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and opposition figure Juan Guaido are expected to meet in the Colombian capital today following deadly clashes at the border over the weekend as the opposition attempted to move humanitarian aid into Venezuela. At least four people were killed and three hundred injured in the violence, according to UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet (CNN).
Venezuela’s Maduro Moves to Block Aid Deliveries
President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of Venezuela’s border with Brazil and warned he may do the same with the Colombian border as the two neighboring countries work with opposition figure Juan Guaido to deliver aid to Venezuelans despite the regime’s ban on humanitarian assistance (CNN). The UN refugee agency reported that the number of Venezuelan refugees now stands at 3.4 million, with five thousand people on average fleeing the country every day in 2018 (UNHCR).
Venezuela to Close Air and Sea Traffic Ahead of Opposition’s Aid Deadline
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said air and sea traffic from three Caribbean islands will be closed ahead of a Saturday deadline imposed by the Venezuelan opposition to allow humanitarian aid shipments into the country (New York Times).
Brazil to Begin Aid Shipments to Venezuelan Border
Brazil announced it will start delivering humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border by Saturday at the request of opposition figure and interim president Juan Guaido (Guardian).
Trump Intensifies Calls for Venezuelan Regime Change
U.S. President Donald J. Trump used a speech in Miami yesterday to warn Venezuela’s disputed president, Nicolas Maduro, that while the U.S. seeks peaceful regime change in the country, “all options are on the table” (Politico). Washington has urged Venezuela’s military to turn against Maduro and allow humanitarian aid to enter the country, which the Maduro government has refused (Reuters).
Maduro: Foreign Minister, U.S. Envoy Held Talks
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, met twice with U.S. special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams in New York and invited him to visit the country “privately, publicly, or secretly” (Associated Press).
Venezuela Opposition Names New Citgo Board
Opposition figure and interim president Juan Guaido announced a new six-member board for the U.S.-based subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA that he said is “free of corruption and without any partisan affiliation.” The Trump administration announced last month that any revenue earned by Citgo would be put into an account inaccessible to President Nicolas Maduro’s regime (Agence France-Presse).
Competing Demonstrations Held Across Venezuela
Rival demonstrations in support of and against President Nicolas Maduro’s regime took place in Caracas and other cities on Tuesday. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, called on the military to allow international aid shipments into Venezuela on February 23 (Al Jazeera).
U.S. Prepares UN Draft Resolution on Venezuela
The United States has drafted a resolution at the United Nations asking Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to press for new elections in Venezuela and urge Nicolas Maduro’s regime to allow international aid deliveries. Russia is expected to veto any such resolution (Agence France-Presse).
Venezuelan Forces Move to Block Aid Convoys
The Venezuelan military used an oil tanker and shipping containers to block a bridge linking Venezuela and Colombia as the opposition planned deliveries of international aid, according to the Colombian government (CNN). The border city of Cucuta, Colombia, is one of three locations announced by opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido as collection points for the aid shipments. Maduro has long barred such assistance despite an intensifying humanitarian crisis (Associated Press).
Opposition: Attempt by Venezuelan Regime to Transfer Funds Halted
Opposition lawmaker Carlos Paparoni said that the Portugal-based bank Novo Banco halted a $1.2 billion transfer by President Nicolas Maduro’s government to banks in Uruguay. Paparoni hailed the move, saying it is “protecting the resources of all Venezuelans” (Reuters).
Regional Body Calls for Power Transition in Venezuela
Foreign ministers from countries across the Americas met yesterday in Ottawa where they agreed to support Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela. They also called on the country’s armed forces to “demonstrate their loyalty” to Guaido (CBC News). Representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union also took part in the meeting. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in power since 2013, told a Spanish television network on Monday that “we prepare ourselves to defend our country” (BBC).
European States Back Venezuela’s Guaido
European countries including France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, already backed by the United States, as interim president of Venezuela and called on the country to hold new elections (Guardian).
Venezuela’s Guaido Promises Aid Convoys
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who claimed the Venezuelan presidency last week, told the Associated Press that convoys carrying humanitarian aid from a “global coalition” will attempt to enter the country within a few weeks despite a government ban on such aid. Guaido said the move will test whether the military will “side with Nicolas Maduro” or allow the much-needed assistance (Associated Press).
Foreign Reporters Detained in Venezuela
Several Colombian and Spanish journalists working for the Spanish-language agency EFE were detained by Venezuelan authorities yesterday, according to the agency’s Caracas bureau chief. The arrests follow reports that two French journalists were arrested and two Chilean journalists were deported from the country (Reuters).
Venezuela Imposes Travel Ban on Opposition Leader
Venezuela’s supreme court, stacked with allies of President Nicolas Maduro, ordered financial restrictions and a travel ban for U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself president last week. Attorney General Tarek Saab said Guaido would be investigated for “serious crimes that threaten the constitutional order” (Guardian).
U.S. Sanctions Venezuela State Oil Company
The United States announced sanctions on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, upping pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s government as Washington and others across the Americas continue to back opposition leader Juan Guaido, who claimed the presidency last week (Wall Street Journal). The fresh sanctions stop short of banning U.S. companies from purchasing Venezuelan oil but would redirect any revenue from such sales into blocked accounts, according to the Treasury Department (Reuters).
Maduro Makes Show of Force, Venezuelan Opposition Calls for More Protests
On state television yesterday, President Nicolas Maduro said “we’re ready to defend our homeland” as a platoon of soldiers shot rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft fire, seen as an attempt to bolster military support for Maduro. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who claimed the presidency last week, called for further protests on Wednesday (Al Jazeera).
Venezuelan Defense Minister Backs Maduro
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said yesterday that opposition leader Juan Guaido’s move to claim the Venezuelan presidency was “reprehensible” as top military figures defended President Nicolas Maduro’s government (Financial Times). The U.S. State Department announced it would remove nonessential staff and diplomats’ families from the country (Washington Post).
Venezuelan Opposition Leader Claims Presidency
Ten countries across the Americas, including the United States, Canada, and Brazil, recognized Juan Guaido, leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, as the country’s president after Guaido swore himself in yesterday (CBC). President Nicolas Maduro, in power since 2013, broke diplomatic relations with the United States and ordered U.S. diplomats to leave Venezuela, a demand U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would not comply with (Washington Post).
Venezuelan Opposition to March Against Maduro
Opposition protests calling for the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people across Venezuela today, the sixty-first anniversary of the overthrow of a military dictatorship. Pro-government demonstrations are also planned (Reuters). U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declared his support for opposition leader Juan Guaido and the National Assembly in a video message and said Maduro “must go” in an op-ed (Wall Street Journal). Maduro accused Pence of attempting to instigate a coup (Al Jazeera).
Venezuela Arrests National Guardsmen
The defense ministry said twenty-seven members of the National Guard were arrested after stealing weapons yesterday in an attempt to start a rebellion against the government of President Nicolas Maduro (BBC).
Venezuela’s Maduro Blames Opposition for Power Outage
President Nicolas Maduro accused his opponents of sabotaging a Caracas hospital’s electrical system “to create a show for the international media” after two people reportedly died at the facility during a weekend power outage (Latin American Herald Tribune).
Opposition Leader Detained by Venezuelan Intelligence
Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, was briefly detained by intelligence agents yesterday. Guaido made comments on Friday that were interpreted by some as declaring himself the country’s interim president (Reuters).
Maduro to Be Sworn In for Second Term
Thirteen nations across the Americas issued a joint statement saying they will not recognize Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s president and called for him not to take office. Maduro, who won an election last year marred by accusations of fraud, came to power in 2013 following the death of President Hugo Chavez (Washington Post).
U.S. Treasury Targets Venezuelan Media Giant
The United States announced sanctions on the owner of media company Globovision, as well as several businesspeople with ties to the Venezuelan government, for allegedly making billions of dollars in profit from manipulating the country’s broken currency market (Wall Street Journal). Separately, the opposition-controlled National Assembly condemned new investment deals by state oil firm PDVSA with French firm Maurel & Prom and with U.S. company Erepla, saying lawmakers should have first approved the agreements. The congress, effectively stripped of much of its power since 2016, is unlikely to be able to block the deals from moving ahead (Reuters).
Venezuelan Supreme Court Judge Flees to U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa, formerly an ally of President Nicolas Maduro, fled to the United States, condemning last year’s election as “not free and competitive.” Zerpa said he waited to publicly criticize the government until his family was able to leave the country (BBC).
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