On Monday, July 26, representatives of Foro Cívico launched a 5-day tour in Washington, D.C. for a public roundtable and a series of meetings with officials in the Biden administration, bipartisan members of the House and Senate, and other relevant actors to raise the profile of Venezuela’s humanitarian and political crisis, and ongoing efforts by civil society to achieve a solution.
The Foro Cívico, a nonpartisan coalition of civil society organizations, academic groups, labor unions, and social movements, was launched in February with the objective of encouraging cooperation around issues such as the humanitarian emergency, electoral conditions, and prospects for democratic change in the country. Since its inception, the Foro Cívico has been instrumental in pushing for electoral reform in Venezuela, presenting a list of 15 individuals from Venezuelan civil society to be considered for rectors of a new National Electoral Council (CNE) in March. When the makeup of a new CNE was announced in May, the impact of the Foro Cívico’s advocacy efforts was apparent, with three of the 15 members—Roberto Picón, León Airsmendi, and Griselda Colina—having been included in the list of candidates presented by the Foro Cívico.
The delegation of Foro Cívico representatives in Washington this week included Beatriz Borges (CEPAZ), Deborah Van Berkel (Sinergia), Enrique López Loyo (National Academy of Medicine), Mariela Ramírez (Movimiento Ciudadano Dale Letra), and Eugenio Martínez (electoral journalist). The tour aimed to discuss and advance civil society proposals to address the country’s humanitarian crisis, defend human rights, and push for free and fair conditions for upcoming elections slated for November 21. On Wednesday, July 28, WOLA hosted a public roundtable with the members of the delegation, which can be accessed here.
- On Tuesday, the regional director of the World Food Programme (WFP) arrived in Venezuela for a series of high-level meetings with Chavista officials. The visit follows a landmark agreement reached in April allowing the WFP to provide meals to children in low-income schools, and an announcement from WFP in early July that the first batch of food assistance had been delivered in Venezuela.
- A recent report from the Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ) documents 125 femicides in Venezuela during the first 6 months of 2021, and an additional 49 femicides of Venezuelan women outside of the country.
- This week, the Third Control Court of Anzoátegui state charged health worker Ada Macuare with terrorism and instigation of hate after she was arbitrarily arrested on July 21 for demanding higher salaries for medical workers and a complete COVID-19 vaccination plan. Fellow members of the health workers union have spoken out in support of Macuare and have called for her immediate release.
- On July 26, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a statement expressing concern for the lack of academic liberty in Venezuela. The statement declared that universities are a fundamental pillar of democracy, and urged the Venezuelan government to adopt measures to defend the freedom of expression within academic settings.
- In an interview on July 24, Nicolás Maduro stated that his team is ready to begin negotiations with the opposition in Mexico, and that he hopes that foreign governments including the United States be involved in the upcoming process. In response, members of the opposition expressed an openness to negotiations, but were hesitant to commit until further conditions are met. Sources close to the process have indicated that the first rounds of negotiations would begin in Mexico between the 10 and 20 of August.
- In recent weeks, at least six candidates from the opposition and Chavismo have emerged in the mayoral race in Caracas ahead of regional and municipal elections on November 21. The opposition remains split on whether or not to participate in the elections, with Guaidó stating on Wednesday that conditions are still insufficient to take part in the process.
- This week, members of the Fuerza Vecinal party including candidate for the gubernatorial race in Miranda state David Uzcátegui proposed that the opposition hold internal primaries on August 22 to determine candidacies and encourage unity ahead of the regional elections in November.
- This week, Human Rights Watch published a statement calling on the government of Chile to cease collective deportations of Venezuelans and to ensure that deportations comply with international human rights standards. The statement highlights a lack of due process or judicial review in deportation proceedings for Venezuelan migrants in April and June.
- This week, the U.S. embassy in Bogota announced that the Biden administration would donate 3.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to the Colombian government to support vaccination efforts for vulnerable populations in Colombia including Venezuelan migrants.
- On July 29, the Migration Policy Institute published a report documenting the socioeconomic integration of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru since 2017. The report examines immigration policies and access to regular status in South American countries, changing trends in migration flows from Venezuela in recent years, and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on migrant and refugee populations in the region.
- On July 24, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano announced that he was sending 14,000 soldiers to Norte de Santander on the border with Venezuela after allegedly receiving threats to President Ivan Duque from the 33rd Front FARC dissident group. The announcement comes amid raised tensions between the Duque and Maduro administrations, with the Colombian government accusing Venezuela of harboring FARC dissidents after an attack on Iván Duque’s helicopter in June by alleged dissident groups based in Venezuela. On July 26 Duque publicly urged the U.S. government to declare Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism, inciting Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to respond with accusations that Colombia is a “narco-government.”
- This week the Venezuelan Armed Forces published a statement on social media denouncing an alleged violation of Venezuela’s airspace by a U.S. military plane on July 22. The statement, signed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, regarded the incident as a “flagrant provocation” and the presence of U.S. military bases in Colombia as a “permanent threat” to the stability of the region.
- This week, WHO spokesperson Ciro Ugarte announced that in the coming months Venezuela would receive a “significant quantity” of vaccines through the COVAX mechanism. Ugarte clarified that the vaccines distributed through COVAX would be developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical companies Sinovac and Sinopharm.
- On July 26, the Maduro government declared a period of ‘radical quarantine’ until August 1 after reporting two cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country. The government previously expressed a willingness to flexibilize its quarantine system, but warned that citizens must practice high caution amid a rise in cases.