On July 5, Venezuela’s Independence Day multiple civil society organizations—from human rights groups, to the union sector, to business associations–released a video and carried out a social media campaign demanding the construction of “spaces of understanding” and a national agreement (English version here). Included in the social media campaign was a prior interview with pollster Felix Seijas pointing out that such an agreement is the clear preference of the population but that Venezuela’s political actors are not taking up this demand.
- A coalition of Venezuelan civil society groups in France has emerged making similar calls.
- The majority sector of the opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, had its own Independence Day meeting and likewise called for unity in not participating in an electoral “farse” and to instead fight for Venezuela’s “second independence.”
- The Supreme Court (TSJ) suspended the current leadership of political party Voluntad Popular (VP) and named a new provisional board. The Court named as head of the party a lawmaker that was expelled from it last year amid accusations of being a shadow ally of Maduro. VP is the party of Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó and they condemned the Court’s decision strongly. This is the third major opposition party that is taking over by Maduro political allies after Supreme Court decisions, Acción Democrática and Primero Justicia had the same faith recently.
- Last week Padrino López caused indignation in the Venezuelan opposition by declaring that the opposition “can never exercise political power in Venezuela.” The opposition rejected the declarations of Padrino López and accused him of violating the Constitution. Political analyst Maryhen Jiménez suggests that this type of declaration is typical of authoritarian governments and should not be taken at face value.
- The Maduro government reversed its previous decision to expel the European Union’s ambassador in Caracas. Maduro’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell spoke by phone, and agreed on the need to maintain diplomatic relations that could facilitate the political dialogue.
- The UK high court effectively ratified the British government’s decision to recognize Juan Guaidó as president last year, by rejecting the Maduro government’s efforts to gain control over Venezuela’s gold in the Bank of England.
- Switzerland sanctioned 11 Venezuelan officials for their alleged role in undermining human rights and democracy.
- In El País, David suggests that declarations by U.S. President Donald Trump and former National Security Advisor John Bolton last month did not reveal a change in policy as much as the fact that Venezuela was never a central issue for Trump and mainly suites his electoral purposes.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet provided an update to her human rights report and highlighted the issue of police violence. Their numbers suggest police forces killed 1,324 people from January to May 2020, while only five members of security forces were reportedly killed during police operations.
- As of the July 7, Venezuela reported 7,639 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 71 deaths. The increase of cases in the last weeks has reversed Maduro’s plans to open the economy partially, the country has returned to a “strict” nationwide quarantine.
- The government has increased border controls as it considers Venezuelans migrants to be responsible for the case increase, and announced that 176 Venezuelans were detained after trying to enter Venezuela from Colombia through informal routes.
- Kathleen Page and Tamara Taraciuk Broner in a piece for Washington Post argue that the international community should get behind the recent health agreement that the government of Maduro and the opposition-led National Assembly signed.
- The social and economic situation in Venezuela is alarming, according to the recent “National Survey of Living Conditions” (ENCOVI 2019-20) that the Andres Bello Catholic University (UCAB) conducts periodically. The survey reports that poverty in the country is rampant; 64.8% of Venezuelan households experienced “multidimensional poverty” in 2019 and inequalities are rising (.51 GINI coefficient).
- The survey also shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has multiple negative effects on the Venezuelans life, with 43% of the households saying that are not able to work or have lost income during the lockdowns against the pandemic.
- Unicef announced that a fourth plane arrived in Venezuela last week with 15 tons of aid.