After the European Union (EU) sanctioned eleven Venezuelan officials, Nicolás Maduro announced he was giving EU Ambasador Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa 72 hours to leave the country, saying the sanctions were evidence of European colonialism and racism. It is a significant development as the EU was one of the key international forces pushing for negotiated settlement in Venezuela. The EU condemned the decision and suggested it would take reciprocity measures, but reaffirmed that it considers negotiations the best path forward for Venezuela.
The EU justified the sanctions saying the individuals in question were “responsible notably for acting against the democratic functioning of the National Assembly.” The EU has sanctioned a total of 36 individuals since November 2017. The United Kingdom announced it would adopt the EU sanctions and continue to work with European partners regarding Venezuela.
Maduro also denounced the use of the Spanish Embassy in Caracas for what they say is the planning “of terrorist acts,” referring to the presence of Leopoldo López there over the past year.
More International Engagement
- Michael Penfold wrote in the Financial Times that it is time for the Venezuelan opposition and its international supporters to recognize that the Venezuelan crisis requires a different approach. He argues that the E.U., U.S., Russia, China, Colombia and Cuba should support the talks, similar to what happened during Colombia’s 2012-16 peace talks.
- David published a piece suggesting Joe Biden should not try to out-hawk Trump on Venezuela but rather develop a policy based on diplomacy and non-self-defeating forms of pressure.
- Venezuela’s legislative elections will take place during the second half of December of this year.
- The head rector of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Indira Alfonzo, announced that for the next legislative period (2021-2026) the number of deputies in the National Assembly would increase from the current 167 to 277.
- Alfonzo also said that the electoral circuits would remain the same (87) as in previous elections. It is unclear yet why the CNE decided to increase the Assembly seats, as Venezuela’s population has actually decreased due to massive emigration.
- Last week twenty-one American countries in OAS rejected the “illegal” designation of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) by the Supreme Court.
- This week the opposition made public the conditions that would be necessary for a free and fair election. However, they did not say what would happen if the government does not fulfill them.
- The opposition continues adrift without a clear direction. They received more bad press when the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed that Leopoldo López was behind the efforts to contract mercenaries to overthrow Nicolás Maduro. In statements many compared to Maduro’s attacks on the media, López denied the revelations and accused the WSJ of publishing fake news.
- Opposition deputy Stalin González said that Venezuela’s political forces should seek a political agreement before the legislative election, and asked Guaidó to reconsider his approach regarding the political change in Venezuela as the existing plan has failed. González also opposed the idea of an opposition government in exile.
- Doctors without Borders is focusing its efforts in Venezuela on reducing and controlling malaria in the eastern state of Sucre.
- The indigenous organization Kapé kapé published a report on the effects of illegal mining on indigenous communities.
- 43 Venezuelan organizations joined forces and prepared a report called “The Right to Defend Human Rights.” The report describes myriad problems facing defenders in Venezuela, especially from the actions of state security forces and armed civilian groups. The authors also say that since the beginning of the Covid-19 measures, the state repression against human rights activists has increased (for a quick summary of the report in English).
- The Maduro government has extended lockdown measures in many areas of the country, reversing previous plans for easing restrictions. According to official data, the virus has infected 5832 people, and 51 have died.
- Opposition figures and health care workers in the city of Maracaibo, Zulia state, argue that there is an outbreak of the virus in the city that has infected dozens of doctors and nurses. Non-governmental sources claim that at least five health workers have died in Zulia state as a result of COVID-19 and the Maduro government has not included them in the official account.
- Maduro government official Freddy Bernal thanked the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for the help and humanitarian aid the organization offers Venezuelan migrants that are returning to the country. This represents progress since last year when Bernal accused UNCHR of participating in the opposition’s plans to topple Maduro.
- A recent study of the World Bank (WB) argues that the Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Ecuador could contribute significantly to Ecuador’s economy. The WB says if the Venezuelan migrants, mostly young and highly educated, could access jobs according to their educational level, they could generate economic growth close to 2% of GDP.