Most Venezuelans work in the service sector. The oil industry offers few jobs. It employs less than 1 percent of the workforce. Other industries are poorly developed and only about 7 percent work in agriculture.
Many Venezuelans work in the informal sector. According to official data, almost four out of ten were estimated to be working as street sales and simpler services in homes even before the economic crisis of recent years. No new numbers are available. Wages are generally low in the informal sector.
After President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999, labor law was eroded and the position of trade unions weakened. The traditional unions had close ties to the two previously dominant parties (see Political system). The unions were critical of Chávez and went on strike several times against him. He responded by trying to get loyal people into the unions’ leadership and in other ways counteracting them. Gradually, new governmental trade unions have been formed.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Venezuela, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
The former largest central organization CTV (Confederación de trabajadores de Venezuela) is today not recognized by the government, which instead negotiates with the government-loyal UNT (Union National de trabajardores de Venezuela).
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
9.1 percent (2019)
17.5 percent (2019)
Salvadoran diplomats are expelled
El Salvador diplomats are given two days to leave Venezuela, after the Salvadoran government decided to expel Venezuelan diplomats. The San Salvador government does not recognize President Maduro, but instead wants to see a Venezuelan delegation representing Juan opposition leader Guaidó. The government calls Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele a “puppet” in US foreign policy.
Venezuela gets a seat on the UN Human Rights Council
Venezuela is awarded one of the 47 seats on the UN Human Rights Council, despite the fact that just over 50 countries do not recognize President Nicolás Maduro’s regime as legitimate. A few days earlier, Human Rights Watch called on council members to vote against Venezuela because of allegations of serious human rights violations in the country. Recently, the Council voted to send representatives to Venezuela to investigate the situation there, something that Maduro has criticized.
The UN Human Rights Council is investigating abuse
The UN Human Rights Council votes for an investigation into allegations of abuse in the Venezuela crisis, including extrajudicial executions, torture and disappearances. The decision is taken by the Council with the votes 19–7, while 21 members cast their votes. In the resolution, the Council calls on Caracas to release all political prisoners. The investigators are given one year.
Tighter EU sanctions
The EU decides to impose sanctions on seven intelligence and security officers who are accused of serious human rights violations, including torture and murder. The EU has since 2017 sanctioned Venezuela, which includes 18 other individuals, as well as a ban on exports of weapons and other equipment.
The United States excludes all heights
The United States tightens its sanctions and closes the door for all high-ranking representatives of the state, and their families. The entry ban applies from Deputy Ministers and Colonels and upwards, as well as all members of the government-loyal Constitutional Assembly. It also includes “anyone who acts for or in support of” President Nicolás Maduro, and those who have “economic benefits” from the government. US government officials have said in the past that entry bans are effective because they “prevent those women’s wives from shopping in the United States.”
The government cancels boycott of parliament
Members of the ruling party PSUV return to their seats in the opposition-controlled National Assembly under noise and anxiety. They sing praises to Maduro as they settle down, while the opposition is buzzing. The Government side has boycotted the National Assembly since 2016 and has set up the competing Constitutional Assembly (see August 2017). An agreement has now been reached with some minor opposition parties to re-enter parliament, as a “democratic gesture” to “deepen the dialogue”. President and opposition leader Juan Guaidó says the re-entry shows that the National Assembly is the only legitimate body in Venezuela.
Defense agreements are activated against Venezuela
A regional defense agreement is activated directed at Venezuela, at the request of the United States. The vote will take place in conjunction with the UN General Assembly in New York. Sixteen member countries vote in favor, Uruguay votes against and Trinidad and Tobago abstain. Earlier this month, the United States invoked the Rio Agreement (or Tiar after the acronym in Spanish), because of the Venezuelan government’s “warlike” actions. The United States refers to Venezuela’s alleged support for armed groups in Colombia, which has withdrawn from the peace treaty there, and to Venezuelan troop movements in the border regions. The agreement allows other member states to prosecute or extradite representatives of the Venezuelan state, or seize their assets.
Opposition politician is released
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Edgar Zambrano is released from detention, as a goodwill gesture. He was one of 15 parliamentarians arrested after the April riots (see May 8, 2019). The day before the release, the government has reached an agreement with a smaller opposition party, in an attempt to break the political deadlock. Prosecutor William Saab states that the government has asked the Supreme Court to put Zambrano on the loose, and he also promises to review the situation of all opposition politicians who are detained.
Guaidó: The talks are over
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó declares death talks under the Norwegian mediation held in Barbados with the government, in an attempt to resolve the political crisis in the country. Guaidó notes that President Maduro abandoned the talks more than a month ago.
Military exercise at the border with Colombia
Defense management states that 150,000 soldiers will be mobilized to participate in exercises along the more than 200-mile border with Colombia. Military equipment has already begun to be sent to the region. The message comes after President Maduro accused the neighboring country of planning a military conflict. Colombia’s President Iván Duque has accused Venezuela of protecting Colombian leftist rebels.
Sharp criticism from UN human rights chief
UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet again accuses the Venezuelan government of severe human rights abuses, and specifically points out the Faes special unit within the police. According to Bachelet, 57 extra-judicial executions performed by Faes have been documented only in July. Bachelet has previously called on Venezuela to dissolve Faes, but she now finds that the police unit on the contrary has support for its operations from the highest point.
Secret talks with the United States
20th of August
Both President Maduro and his American counterpart Donald Trump confirm that high-ranking representatives of both countries’ governments have been negotiating for months. It has been rumored in the past that Maduros’ close confidante Diosdado Cabello is involved in “secret communications” regarding Maduros departure. The message comes a few weeks after the US imposed new comprehensive sanctions on Venezuela.
Maduro sets up calls
President Maduro announces that talks with the opposition held in Barbados are suspended, in protest of the new sanctions introduced by the United States a few days earlier.
Trump freezes Venezuela’s assets
All Venezuela’s assets in the US are frozen and transactions with the country’s authorities are banned, by a decision by President Trump. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is the first time in 30 years that such a far-reaching decision is directed at a country on the American continents. The government of Caracas is thus subject to similar US sanctions as Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria.
“Attack” behind large power failure
The capital of Caracas and large parts of the country is darkened by yet another prolonged power outage, which is referred to as a “national event”. The government claims that it is a deliberate attack, and President Maduro is making charges against the United States a few days later. Several serious disruptions to the electricity grid have occurred since a week-long interruption had major social consequences (see March 7, 2019).
Conversation between government and opposition
New talks are held between government and opposition representatives, in the Caribbean island of Barbados. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs participates as a mediator and has confirmed that the meeting is taking place. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has said via Twitter that the aim is to “negotiate a way out of the dictatorship”. President Nicolás Maduro says he is “optimistic” about the talks. According to Maduro, there is an agenda with six items that have not been published, however.
Suspected dome conductor dies in court
A captain in the fleet who was arrested on suspicion of planning a coup against President Nicolás Maduro dies after collapsing in court. 49-year-old Rafael Acosta was one of six militants and police arrested a few days earlier. According to Acosta’s wife, he was barely conscious when he was taken to the court in a wheelchair, with clear evidence of torture. The death occurs just as UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet is in the country investigating allegations of human rights crimes, including torture and extrajudicial executions, and Bachelet expresses his dismay. Two soldiers are arrested the day after Acosta’s death. In September, they are sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.
“No new Oslo meetings planned”
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó states that the tiring talks initiated in Oslo have stopped and no new meetings have been scheduled. The week before, representatives of the government and Guaidó for the first time met face to face. Previous meetings have only taken place between each party and Norwegian mediators. The opposition is said to be skeptical of the negotiations and does not want to release the demand that Maduro resign and new elections are held.
The border crossing to Colombia opens
President Maduro orders that the border crossing in the state of Táchira should partially reopen. Around 30,000 people crossed the border bridge to the Colombian city of Cúcuta every day before it closed in February. Since then, many have crossed the border illegally.
New Minister of Energy – again
President Maduro appoints new Minister of Energy, just two months after the last change of post. Freddy Brito is now given the assignment to try to get the serious electricity supply in the country in order.
Petrol rationing is introduced
Although Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, the authorities are forced to introduce gasoline rationing. Fuel shortages have occurred for a long time, but the situation has worsened considerably in recent weeks since the US imposed new sanctions on the country and against the state oil company PDVSA.
Canada closes its embassy
The Canadian government states that the embassy in Caracas will be temporarily closed. The reason is that the Venezuelan government is preventing foreign embassies from “functioning normally” and Canadian diplomats’ visas expire soon.
Official inflation figures a tenth of the IMF’s
When Venezuela’s central bank presents its figures for inflation for the first time in three years, it is said to have been 130,060 percent at the end of 2018 – or ten times lower than the IMF estimates. The Central Bank states that inflation was 274 percent in 2016 and 862 percent in 2017.
The Constitutional Assembly extends its mandate
The Constitutional Assembly, which was appointed in the summer of 2017, decides to extend its own mandate ” at least ‘to the end of 2020, which means an extension of one and a half years. The task of the Constitutional Assembly is formally to write a new constitution, but it has not been devoted to it. However, it has given itself absolute power (see August 8, 2017). President Maduro says the Assembly is the “greatest guarantee of political stability”. At the same time, he reiterates a previous promise to announce elections to the National Assembly prematurely, despite being deprived of his power by the Constitutional Assembly. Otherwise, the election would be held in December 2020.
Preparatory talks in Norway
High-level representatives of the government and opposition have met in Oslo, states both sides. The Norwegian government is trying to help get formal talks started to find a solution to the political crisis. The task of trying to negotiate is somewhat surprising as several opposition politicians have just been deprived of their indictment and opposition leader Juan Guaidó has said he is considering asking the US to intervene militarily. Norway has previously successfully mediated in the armed conflict in neighboring Colombia.
The National Assembly is blocked off
Police and security services Sebin blocks the entrance to the National Assembly and prevents members from entering the building. They claim that there are explosives in the building. At the same time, the regime-based Constitutional Assembly has suspended the prosecution immunity of additional members who are now at risk of being prosecuted for treason. According to Amnesty International, the government may have committed humanity crimes in connection with the unrest in January. At least 47 people were killed at that time, including 11 in what may have been extrajudicial executions, Amnesty said, calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the incidents.
MPs are seeking protection
A member of the National Assembly says in a video recording that he has moved to Colombia, while three others have sought protection at the Embassies of Argentina and Italy in Caracas. All three are part of the group of members of the Opposition-controlled Assembly who are accused of treason in connection with the April 30 uprising attempt, and which has had their criminal immunity lifted.
Opposition politicians are arrested
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Edgar Zambrano is arrested under dramatic circumstances by the security service Sebin. When his car is stopped, he and his company refuse to step out of the car, which results in a tow truck towing the car to Sebin’s headquarters. It happens the day after the Supreme Court ordered Zambrano and several other members of the opposition-controlled National Assembly to be arrested as a result of the attempted uprising the week before. Shortly after the order from the Supreme Court, the regime-based constitutional assembly has suspended the members’ prosecutorial immunity, at the request of the court. A few hundred protesters have also been arrested after the attempted uprising, although some have since been released. So far during the year, more than 2,000 people have been arrested for political reasons, according to a new report from the non-profit organization Foro Penal.
Demonstrations and continued unrest
Both opponents and supporters of the government carry out large demonstrations and clashes between security forces and protesters continue, the day after opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s insurgency call. At least one person is killed and about 50 injured. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that military intervention is not ruled out and he accuses Russia and Cuba of destabilizing Venezuela through its support for the Maduro government. Russia’s foreign minister accuses the United States of having a destructive influence on Venezuela and violating international law.
Attempted attempts are turned down
Clashes are breaking out on the streets of Caracas since opposition leader Juan Guaidó in a video speech on Twitter urged the country’s residents to rise up against the government. Guaidó is on a military airbase and with in the photo are armed soldiers as well as government opponents’ former foreground figure Leopoldo López, who should have been released from his house arrest by military (see July 2017). Guaidó says the final phase of “Operation Freedom” has now begun, and he is calling on Venezuelans to continue the street protests until President Maduro is forced off. He receives immediate support from President Trump who tweeted that the United States is behind the Venezuelan people. But Guaidó seems to have overestimated the support for his cause and the number of militants ready to change sides. Towards the end of the day, the government states that a coup attempt by “a small group” has been rejected. President Maduro makes it clear that prosecution is awaiting those who have committed crimes against “the constitution, the rule of law and the right to peace”. Leopolodo López seeks refuge in the Spanish Embassy.
No IMF money
The IMF will have no contact with Venezuela or allow the country access to funds until there is agreement in the outside world about which government is legitimate. According to a spokesman for the loan body, it is the members who decide but in the case of the Venezuelan government, there is no agreement. Venezuela has drained its funds at the IMF by nearly 89 percent over the past four years.
Clear sign for assistance
The government and the Red Cross have signed an agreement with UN agencies to bring humanitarian aid to Venezuela, President Maduro said in a radio and television speech. In the past, the president has denied that a humanitarian crisis prevails in the country. According to UN estimates, a quarter of residents are in urgent need of assistance, and 3.7 million Venezuelans are malnourished.
Guaidó’s criminal immunity is revoked
The Constitutional Assembly revokes opposition leader and MP Juan Guaidó’s prosecutorial immunity, following a request from the Supreme Court. The decision could lead to Guaidó being arrested for violating his travel ban. Both the Constitutional Assembly and the Supreme Court are dominated by regime-loyal people.
Electric rationing is introduced
President Nicolás Maduro announces the introduction of a 30-day electricity ration, two days after a third major power outage of three weeks occurred. The government has also announced that the working day at private and public workplaces should end at 2 pm and schools should be closed. The decisions indicate that the government does not believe that the crisis with the recurrent power cuts will be able to be resolved in the near future. Everyday life remains difficult for most citizens and the street protests are extensive.
Guaidó suspended from public office
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is suspended from public office for 15 years, the longest suspension allowed by law. As a reason, uncertainties are cited in his personal finances. Guaidó dismisses the message that such a decision can only be made by a national auditor appointed by the National Congress.
New large power outage
About half the country is again hit by extensive power outages, just two weeks after the previous disruptions ceased. In Caracas, the electricity returns after four hours but then disappears again. People are encouraged to stay home from work and school the next day. As before, the government states that it is hacker attacks that are behind the power outages.
Russian military to Venezuela
Two Russian military planes land in Caracas and are reported to carry around 100 soldiers as well as large quantities of equipment. Venezuela has ever closer relations with Russia. In December, two Russian bombers landed in Caracas, triggering a war of words between Washington and Moscow. Russian military has also participated in military exercises with Venezuela.
Guaidó employees are arrested
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s chief of staff Roberto Marrero is arrested by the security services following a raid on his home in Caracas. According to MP Sergio Vergara, who lives in the same building, more than 40 armed men participate in the strike in the middle of the night. Vergara is also temporarily arrested but soon released. The self-proclaimed President Guaidó tweets that Marrero has been kidnapped and that weapons were planted in his home during the raid. Interior Minister Néstor Reverol states that Marrero is suspected of leading a terrorist cell.
Power outages decrease
the 13th of March
The electricity supply is essentially restored and the government decides that all public employees should return to work on March 14, after four work days canceled due to the power outage. School pupils are given another day at home. Parts of western Venezuela are still powerless, including the city of Maracaibo where more than 500 stores have been looted. According to an estimate, the disruption has cost the country $ 875 million. Around 20 people have died in hospital, according to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, because of the interruptions. The government has launched an investigation against Guaidó accused of sabotage. However, the United States has warned of “consequences” if he is arrested, and he is not deprived of liberty.
Looting and chaos with continued power failure
11th of March
The extensive power outage, which comes and goes, continues on the fifth day. The situation is becoming increasingly desperate for many residents who lack access to the internet, mobile telephony, ATMs and kitchen appliances. Several deaths are reported, mainly among dialysis patients and premature babies. The government has ordered schools and workplaces to be closed. Looting occurs and government- run motorcycle gangs, colectivos, patrol to try to maintain order in darkened neighborhoods. The information is scarce about the situation in remote parts of the country.
Massive power failure
Most of the country is affected by a power outage that the government claims is due to sabotage. It starts with most of Caracas being darkened during rush hour traffic and then spreading to other parts. President Nicolás Maduro accuses the opposition of trying to stage a coup with the help of “US imperialists” while opposition leader Juan Guaidó says the cause is the regime’s chaos and ineffectiveness – and that the light is returning when Maduro has been driven from power.
The German ambassador is expelled
The government orders Germany’s ambassador Daniel Kriener to leave the country within 48 hours. Kriener was present when opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó returned to the country earlier this week. Diplomats from a dozen countries received Guaidó at Caracas airport, but so far no one else has been ordered to leave. Only in July was Kriener allowed to return to continue his work as a German envoy.
The opposition leader returns
4th of March
Opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó returns to Venezuela and is greeted by cheering supporters at Caracas Airport. Diplomats from the US and the EU are also present. Guaidó risks being arrested for defying the travel ban. During his rough week abroad (see February 23, 2019), he has visited several South American countries and met with US Vice President Mike Pence as well as several presidents in the region.
Confrontation at the borders
The situation is tense when a power measurement between the regime and the opposition reaches its peak. The borders to Brazil and Colombia are closed and military monitors transitions where attempts are made to bring in tons of supplies sent as aid from the United States, Canada and several neighboring countries. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has said that aid will be brought into Colombia on this day, and that hundreds of thousands of people have committed to helping. But all attempts are stopped, and the military uses tear gas while protesters throw stones. Several deaths are reported and more than 100 Venezuelan soldiers take the opportunity to desert to the other side. Guaidó himself manages to get to Colombia, despite the departure ban he received in January. He says he has been helped by the Venezuelan military to cross the border.
Trump urges military to abandon Maduro
US President Donald Trump calls in a number of Venezuelan military to support President Nicolás Maduro. Trump says those who continue to support Maduro risk both their future and their lives. Trump, speaking in Miami, Florida, reiterates his support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The situation in Venezuela remains very tense.
European parliamentarians ported
Five MEPs are denied entry into Venezuela and state authorities seized their passports. The five – from Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal – have been invited by opposition leader Juan Guaidó and belong to all the EPP Conservative party group in the European Parliament. Guaidó writes on Twitter that they were rejected by an “increasingly irrational regime”.
Contact group advocates peaceful change of power
The International Contact Group – a new constellation of European and Latin American countries – convenes in Montevideo for a first meeting to try and mediate and deal with the crisis in Venezuela. The countries agree to demand new elections but at the same time work for a peaceful solution. Participants include both countries that have recognized Guaidó (including Sweden) and those who have not done so, such as Mexico and the host country of Uruguay. EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini participates in talks to avoid “chaos and dangerous disintegration”. Guaidó has dismissed all proposals for dialogue with the regime, arguing that it is merely a way for Maduro to buy time.
Assistance fixed at the border
A series of trucks with humanitarian aid from the United States are stopped in the Colombian city of Cúcuta, when the Venezuelan military refuses to release them across the border bridge into Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro has refused to let the trucks in, claiming it would open for a US military invasion. Juan Guaidó claims that many Venezuelans risk dying unless aid arrives. The United States has pledged $ 20 million in aid, Canada $ 40 million and the EU $ 7.5 million.
The military is asked to support Guaidó
Eleven of the Lima Group’s 14 member states that previously recognized Juan Guaidó as acting president are now calling on the Venezuelan military to do the same. In a joint statement after a meeting in Ottawa, they advocate a change of power without violence. Three of the Lima Group’s countries do not support the call: Mexico, Guyana and Saint Lucia.
EU countries recognize Guaidó
A number of EU countries officially recognize Juan Guaidó as president, after Nicolás Maduro rejected the ultimatum set for announcing new elections (see January 26). Sweden joins the countries that now see Guaidó and the National Assembly as Venezuela’s legitimate representatives. A contact group with EU and Latin American countries will be formed to try to resolve the conflict in Venezuela. The group will hold its first meeting in Montevideo on February 7.
Flight General jumps off
General Francisco Yánez becomes the highest ranking military to date behind Guaidó. At the same time, both opponents and supporters of the regime are holding new street demonstrations. Yánez, who is the Air Force’s strategic planning chief, in a video recording distances Maduro’s “dictatorial” authority and urges other military to recognize Guaidó. The Air Force responds with a picture of Yánez on Twitter with the word “traitor”. But another Air Force General, Jorge Oropeze, as well as Iraqi Ambassador Jonathan Velasco will soon follow Yánez’s example.
Travel ban for Guaidó
The Supreme Court bans opposition leader Juan Guaidó from leaving the country and orders his bank accounts to be frozen while an investigation is being conducted against him. US national security adviser John Bolton warns of “serious consequences” if something happens to Guaidó. In the increasingly tight-knit situation, Peru’s Foreign Minister Néstor Popolizio says that the Lima Group (see Foreign Policy and Defense) opposes “military intervention”. Bolton has previously said that “all options” are open to resolving the crisis and great attention has been paid to public appearances with a notepad with the words “5,000 soldiers to Colombia”. A few hours after the announcement that Guaidó had been given a travel ban, President Nicolás Maduro tells the Russian news agency RIA that he wants to negotiate with the opposition and international mediators.
The currency is devalued
In a clear change of foot, a devaluation of close to 35 percent is carried out so that the currency gets about the same value against the dollar as it has on the black market. The strict currency control that has been maintained since 2003 has contributed to hyperinflation, which the IMF now estimates could amount to 10 million percent this year. The currency was devalued by 96 percent in August 2018, but has since lost 98 percent of its value.
US face oil sanctions
The US is imposing sanctions on the state oil company PDVSA and at the same time calls on the military to accept a peaceful change of power. The US will not allow the money for oil purchases to go to the Maduro government, and no US companies are allowed to do business with PDVSA. However, the oil company can avoid the sanctions by recognizing Juan Guaidó as president, says US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The United States buys about 40 percent of the oil that Venezuela exports. Over 20 countries have now recognized Guaidó as acting president, and over 30 people have been killed since the new unrest erupted. Guaidó said in a statement that he now takes control of Venezuela’s foreign assets.
High military jumps off
Venezuela’s military attaché in Washington, Colonel José Luis Silva, breaks with the government and says he now recognizes Juan Guaidó as president. Otherwise, the military has so far continued to be solidarity with Maduro, despite the opposition’s attempts to entice them to switch sides.
European calls for new elections
France, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and Germany set the ultimatum: unless Maduro announces new elections within eight days to resolve the political crisis in the country, they will recognize Juan Guaidó as president. The EU warns in looser terms that measures will be taken if elections are not announced. The claim is rejected by Maduro who says Venezuela is not bound to Europe. During a crisis meeting in the UN Security Council on Venezuela, Russia accuses the United States of planning a coup.
Opposition leaders say they are interim president
The situation is becoming increasingly tense as President of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó proclaims himself president during a transitional period. Guaidó says there is support in the constitution for the President to take over if the incumbent president is illegitimate. The play comes at the same time as tens of thousands of residents participate in demonstrations against President Nicolás Maduro demanding his departure. At the same time, government supporters are demonstrating in support of Maduro. About ten people are killed in unrest. When the United States immediately recognizes Guaidó, Maduro breaks ties with the United States and orders all Americans to leave the country within three days. Several South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, follow the US example and recognize Guaidó as the rightful president. Among the countries that express support for Maduro are Russia, China and Turkey, as well as in Latin America Mexico, Bolivia and Cuba.
Soldiers are arrested after a call against the regime
Twenty-seven soldiers have been arrested since they turned against the regime and tried to get support from the public via social media. The insurgents are said to have taken a security post and captured four people and seized weapons before they were arrested. The short-lived insurgency attempt was supported by residents of Caracas who threw bottles and stones at riot police and demonstrated on the streets by drumming on pots. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The National Assembly is trying to attract militants
The National Assembly challenges President Maduro by promising impunity for militants who join the opposition’s attempt to oust the government. The amnesty will also include civilian government officials who support the efforts to “restore the constitutional order”.
Maduro installed despite protests
President Nicolás Maduro ignores calls from the outside world to resign and is sworn in for a new six-year term. The ceremony is being held by the Supreme Court, as the National Assembly, which usually performs its duties, is suspended (see August 2017). Maduro’s victory in the May 2018 presidential election has been condemned by the EU, the US and the countries of the Lime Group, which includes most countries in Latin America plus Canada. The day after the installation, the opposition calls for mass protests against Maduro’s continued rule. The newly-elected president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly Juan Guaidó challenges Maduro, whom he calls “usurpator” (one who wielded power by force). Guaidó says he himself is ready and has the right according to the constitution to take over the presidential post until elections can be held.
US sanctions are reported to the WTO
The United States imposes sanctions on seven Venezuelans accused of plundering the Treasury billions through illegal currency exchange. The people affected by the sanctions will freeze their assets in the United States and they will be prevented from continuing economic activity by imposing a penalty on transactions they are involved in. The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela on several occasions. On the same day as the latest sanctions are announced, Venezuela turns to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and requires consultations because of the sanctions Venezuela claims violate international law. Venezuela’s complaint may result in the WTO having to appoint an arbitral tribunal to decide the matter.
High judges flee to USA
7 th of January
A former Supreme Court judge appears on local television in the US state of Florida where he says he fled in protest against President Maduro. Christian Zerpa was previously a close ally to Maduro but he now claims to have switched sides and calls Maduro’s victory in the May presidential election as unfair. Zerpa also says that the Supreme Court has become part of the executive power and that Maduro has the habit of calling judges to instruct them on how to decide in sensitive cases. The dismissal is confirmed by the Supreme Court, which however states another reason: that an investigation is underway against Zerpa regarding allegations of sexual harassment by female colleagues.