Venezuela Weekly: Politics and Aid

As Venezuela’s economic crisis gets deeper and its conflict more intractable, foreign aid is ever more central to the battle for political power.

On October 8 U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green announced an agreement to provide $98 million dollars in development aid to Venezuela. Added to the announcement previously made during the United Nations General Assembly, the total amount will be $116 million. “This new funding will build upon our existing support for local human rights defenders, civil society organizations, independent media, and electoral oversight,” said Green. If and when conditions permit, it would also go toward repairing the healthcare system and to boost agricultural production. Part of it will also go to the National Assembly

This amounts to a significant increase as USAID’s webpage suggests they spent $25 million 2018 and had $16 million in commitments for 2019. The amount and the very public announcement of the aid will likely revive efforts by the Maduro government to restrict foreign funding for civil society. Over the past fifteen years there have been intermittent efforts to control international funding for civil society and reduce their scope of action. Just last week 130 civil society organizations released a statement denouncing arbitrary restrictions on the registration of new NGOs.

A proposal to address the electricity emergency in the state of Zulia through a credit from the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), administered by the UN Development Program has proven a political hot potato for the National Assembly. The proposal was first mentioned in public by National Assembly deputy Juan Pablo Guanipa at the end of September—he suggested the idea was not acceptable because it worked through corrupt state electricity company CORPOELEC (see former Zulia governor Manuel Rosales’ statement here). The issue was brought back up this week by a civil society initiative that both called for a return to the Norwegian-led negotiations and the forging of “sectorial agreements” such as the CAF credit. This led to a vague statement by Juan Guaidó regarding the credit, suggesting it would not be administered by Maduro, and an even more cryptic response from the CAF itself suggesting “at this moment, the CAF is not evaluating a loan for Venezuela.”

International Pressure and Support

  • The European parliament’s foreign affairs committee backed the appointment of Josep Borrell as Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the E.U.’s Foreign Policy. During the hearing before the committee, Borrell rejected sanctions that could further affect the Venezuelan people, declared support for sanctions against individuals of the Venezuelan regime, and suggested the European Union will work towards a pacific negotiated and democratic solution.
  • Representative of the opposition to the United Nations (U.N.), Miguel Pizarro, requested the U.N. send an official mission to investigate arbitrary detentions.
  • Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov visited Venezuela and held meetings with Maduro and other prominent figures of his government. Borisov expressed strong support for Maduro.

Negotiation

  • A coalition of 200 civil society organizations calling itself the Social Dialogue platform announced its support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to Venezuela’s crisis. They urged stakeholders to work together in the search for a comprehensive national agreement that the National Assembly will support, asked for the restart of the negotiations under Norway auspices in a new format, and proposed sectoral cooperation and agreements that could mitigate the crisis.
  • There is a statement circulating for signatures from civil society calling for a return to the Norwegian-mediated negotiations.
  • The Maduro government denied entry to British journalist John Carlin when he arrived to Venezuela for an event sponsored by the Institute for Integrated Transitions, regarding the transition to democracy in South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s role.

 Migration

  • Peruvian Foreign Minister Gustavo Meza-Cuadra announced that he will soon travel to meet with the European Union to suggest a “donor table” to address the challenges posed by Venezuelan migration.
  • In July the number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees residing in the Brazilian frontier town with Venezuela Boa Vista, exceeded natives by almost 10%, according to data provided by the U.N.
  • Brasil announced the creationof a private fund to receive donations for its Operação Acolhida program.
  • Aruba is the latest among countries imposing entry restrictions on Venezuelan citizens.
  • According to a study by the International Organization for Migration published in Lima, the composition of the Venezuelan migrants to Peru is changing. Between May and July there was an increase in women under 30 that look to reunite with their partners.
  • Activists in Venezuela suggest thatviolence towards Venezuelans in places like Peru and Ecuador corresponds to aporophobia (fear of the poor) and not just reasons of nationality. Others point out the role gender plays in xenophobic events.
  • The Organization of Centros Comunitarios de Aprendizaje (CECODAP) reported that at least 849,000 children lost contact with one of their parents due to the forced migration in 2018.

Sanctions

  • U.S. software company Adobe announced that it would deactivate all accounts in Venezuela starting October 28, in order to not run afoul U.S. sanctions. The decision has caused outcry in Venezuela where many people are supporting themsevles by doing digital contract work from abroad. National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, said that the National Assembly is working with the software company so that they can arrange this issue.