Canning House brings together key experts on the situation in Venezuela, examining the findings of recent UN and HRW reports in the context of Venezuela’s renewed prominence on the global stage, and the apparent absence of a coherent political opposition.
Venezuela's Balancing Act:
Human Rights & Global Relations
In this seminar, Canning House brings together key experts on the situation in Venezuela, examining the findings of recent United Nations and Human Rights Watch reports in the context of Venezuela’s renewed prominence on the global stage, and the apparent absence of a coherent political opposition.
Chair: Jeremy Browne
CEO, Canning House
Chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva
Acting Americas Director, Human Rights Watch
Over the past decade, Venezuela has endured an unprecedented socioeconomic crisis. A crippling recession – the economy shrank by an estimated two-thirds between 2014 and 2020 – aggravated by economic sanctions from the international community, and an authoritarian regime led by Nicolás Maduro, have contributed to the exodus of over six million Venezuelans from their home country, fleeing to neighbouring Colombia, Brazil and Guyana, as well as further afield.
Maduro has won two presidential elections – in 2013 and 2018 – both of which drew accusations of fraud and vote-rigging from observers within Venezuela and abroad. Recent reports by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Council have detailed widespread violations of human rights in Venezuela, and the curtailment of basic freedoms. Allegations include the imprisonment of political opponents, torture, interrogation, intimidation, and extrajudicial killings by pro-government forces.
Despite this grave internal situation, Venezuela’s relationship with the international community has thawed somewhat in recent months. The Venezuelan National Assembly voted in December to remove Juan Guaidó as its recognised president, bringing an end to a period of sustained pressure on Maduro, with Guaidó acting as the international community’s conduit. The United States under Joe Biden has lifted some sanctions on Venezuela, while French president Emmanuel Macron was seen engaging enthusiastically in conversation with Maduro at the COP27 summit in November 2022.
The Venezuelan economy is even growing once again – up 7.73% year-over-year in the first three quarters of 2022. The combination of these factors points to Venezuela’s return to the global stage, and to a consolidation of Maduro’s power internally.
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