Venezuela Weekly: Guaidó Circles Washington

After mixed results in his European tour, Venezuela’s National Assembly President Juan Guaidó flew to Canada to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his foreign policy advisors. Guaidó’s team announced that he would be appearing at a rally in Miami on Saturday. The unanswered question is whether he will be going to Washington before then.

It is a complex moment for both sides. Guaidó needs to demonstrate he still has Trump’s support. As David suggested here, “if Trump does not meet with him in Washington, it will be a clear indication that the U.S. government has lost faith in the idea that maximum pressure will lead to a transition.”

For Trump the Venezuela issue is mainly interesting in terms of Florida electoral politics. The current stalemate actually works quite well for those purposes and any change of course might not be worth the risk. It is not clear at this point how popular Guaidó actually is in Florida as many opposition radicals think the maximum pressure campaign would have dislodged Maduro or led to foreign military intervention, if Guaidó had not acceded to negotiations in May.

The tension was evident after Guaidó applauded Canada’s efforts to make Cuba “a part of the solution” in his meeting with Trudeau. This created a furor among opposition radicals, who are strongly represented in South Florida. Even U.S. Undersecretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak spoke out saying “Cuba is not the solution to the Venezuelan people’s problems.”

More on European Trip

  • Guaidó’s visit to Spain was just as complex, as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declined to meet with him. He met with Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, and officials and personalities from other political parties and held a rally in Madrid where thousands of Venezuelans showed up.
  • The situation was further complicated by reports that Spain’s Transportation Minister Jose Luis Abalos secretly met with Nicolás Maduro’s vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, in Madrid’s main airport during Rodriguez’s stopover before reaching Turkey. Rodriguez is subject to a European Union travel ban.
  • From Miami Guaidó plans to return to Caracas. His fate is uncertain since in leaving Venezuela he broke a Supreme Court (TSJ) travel prohibition. However, President of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello, said that nothing would happen when Guaidó is back to Venezuela.

Lima Group

 Human Rights

  • Front Line Defenders denounced the escalation of state attacks against organizations that carry out humanitarian work and promote human rights. In particular, they condemn the attacks against Prepara Familia, a non-governmental organization whose main objective is to generate tools to prevent domestic violence.
  • Special police forces (FAES) killed 1231 people in 2019, and only two members of the FAES have been killed during the operations, raising questions. Pro-Chavista organization, Surgentes started a social media campaign against police killings.
  • More than 30 organizations that constitute the Orange Network issued a statement regarding the worrisome high number of femicides that have occurred in the country during the first weeks of the year. The organizations demand actions and measures that meet international standards for the protection of women’s rights and are free of gender biases and stereotypes.

Protest

  • The Social Conflict Observatory (OVCS) reported that 16,739 protests took place in the country during 2019, almost 46 daily. This is the highest number since 2011, according to the organization. The demonstrations were mainly related to political reasons (6,310), demands for better basic services (5,375), or workers’ protests for labor and wage issues (4,756).

 Migration

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched the “Economic Integration of Vulnerable Nationals from Venezuela in Brazil” program.
  • Peruvian authorities expelled a group of 131 Venezuelans accused of crimes in the cities of Lima and Huancayo. Peru has recently expressed its intention to create a special police squad to focus on crimes committed by foreigners in the country. The Maduro government condemned Peru’s decision, as it did Amnesty International.
  • During the Davos Economic Forum, Ecuador and Colombia have asked the international community to pay attention to the Venezuelan crisis.
  • The Colombian government will allow Venezuelan migrants with the Special Permanent Permit to benefit from social programs.

Economy

  • The Maduro government is seeking to boost private investment in Venezuela’s oil fields. They have already given more power to the international companies that participate in joint ventures with PDVSA. As a result, in December, Venezuelan oil exports bounced back to 1.1 million barrels-per-day (bpd), far above the 800,000 bpd in August.