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Rule of law and human rights in Cuba and Venezuela and EU engagement

11-12-2018

The European Parliament (EP) has consistently followed the situation in Cuba and Venezuela. It has expressed its support for defenders of human rights and democracy with the award of the Sakharov prize to Cuban activists on three occasions (2002, 2005, 2010), and to Venezuela’s Democratic Opposition in 2017. In line with this engagement, a workshop on human rights and rule of law in both countries was held on 6 September 2018, in Brussels, at the request of the EP’s Subcommittee on Human Rights ( ...

The European Parliament (EP) has consistently followed the situation in Cuba and Venezuela. It has expressed its support for defenders of human rights and democracy with the award of the Sakharov prize to Cuban activists on three occasions (2002, 2005, 2010), and to Venezuela’s Democratic Opposition in 2017. In line with this engagement, a workshop on human rights and rule of law in both countries was held on 6 September 2018, in Brussels, at the request of the EP’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI). Dr. Par Engstrom (University College London) presented the first draft of an independent study analysing the main human rights developments in Cuba and Venezuela since 2014 and the EU’s response. The paper, which focused specifically on the Sakharov laureates, was discussed with Members and other experts, including from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European External Action Service and the European Commission. During the lively discussion, there was broad agreement with the description of major trends in the human rights situation in the two countries. Critical comments and controversial issues related to the impact of the government’s repression of the Venezuelan opposition, the need to consider not only civil and political but also economic and social rights, the effectiveness of sanctions against Venezuela and the potential role of the Sakharov Prize. Observations and comments made during the workshop fed into the final version of the study, which is also included in this report.

External author

Par ENGSTROM; Giulia BONACQUISTI

Venezuela [What Think Tanks are thinking]

01-03-2019

The situation in Venezuela appears to be approaching a tipping-point, as President Nicolas Maduro faces growing international and domestic pressure to relinquish power to National Assembly leader and self-proclaimed acting President Juan Guaidó. The latter is recognised by many Western countries as the legitimate interim leader of the oil-rich Latin American country, which has seen its economy undermined by mismanagement and corruption. Maduro, political heir to Hugo Chávez, is backed by China, Russia ...

The situation in Venezuela appears to be approaching a tipping-point, as President Nicolas Maduro faces growing international and domestic pressure to relinquish power to National Assembly leader and self-proclaimed acting President Juan Guaidó. The latter is recognised by many Western countries as the legitimate interim leader of the oil-rich Latin American country, which has seen its economy undermined by mismanagement and corruption. Maduro, political heir to Hugo Chávez, is backed by China, Russia and the country’s military. He has recently ordered troops to block the opposition’s US-backed attempt to bring in aid to the country, leading to violent clashes. To date, some 3.4 million Venezuelans have left the country to escape the crisis. The European Parliament has already adopted a non-binding resolution that recognised Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the situation in Venezuela .

The political crisis in Venezuela

07-12-2017

In December 2015, the results of elections to the Venezuelan National Assembly saw the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition (MUD) prevail by a wide majority over the ruling Socialist Unified Party of Venezuela (PSUV) of President Nicolás Maduro. Since then, Venezuela has faced increasing political crisis. Initiatives by the duly elected Parliament have been systematically blocked, first by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) and the National Electoral Council, and since August 2017 by the new National ...

In December 2015, the results of elections to the Venezuelan National Assembly saw the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition (MUD) prevail by a wide majority over the ruling Socialist Unified Party of Venezuela (PSUV) of President Nicolás Maduro. Since then, Venezuela has faced increasing political crisis. Initiatives by the duly elected Parliament have been systematically blocked, first by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) and the National Electoral Council, and since August 2017 by the new National Constituent Assembly, which has taken over most of the Parliament's legislative powers. Two attempts at dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, promoted by international mediators, have so far failed to break the deadlock. The economic and social situation in the country is far from improving, and the number of Venezuelan asylum-seekers abroad has risen exponentially. Nevertheless, regional elections were finally held on 15 October 2017 – with a PSUV victory in 17 of the 23 Venezuelan states, amid accusations of fraud from the opposition – and the government has promised to go ahead with the presidential elections due in 2018. This is an update of a briefing published in October 2017.

Venezuela: An unexpected turn of events

07-02-2019

The election of Juan Guaidó as president of the National Assembly and his subsequent self-proclamation as interim President of Venezuela has brought an unexpected turn to political events in the country and revived hopes for change both at home and abroad. Not only has Guaidó rallied massive popular support among Venezuelans, he has also obtained official recognition from the USA and most countries in the region. The European Parliament and 19 EU Member States have also recognised Guaidó as the legitimate ...

The election of Juan Guaidó as president of the National Assembly and his subsequent self-proclamation as interim President of Venezuela has brought an unexpected turn to political events in the country and revived hopes for change both at home and abroad. Not only has Guaidó rallied massive popular support among Venezuelans, he has also obtained official recognition from the USA and most countries in the region. The European Parliament and 19 EU Member States have also recognised Guaidó as the legitimate interim President.

Venezuela: political parties

30-04-2015

The political party system established in Venezuela in 1958 by the Punto Fijo Pact, and dominated by the Democratic Alliance and COPEI parties, collapsed in 1998 with the victory of Hugo Chavez in the presidential elections. Since then, and after the 1999 Constitutional reform, Chavismo has dominated Venezuelan politics, though the opposition parties have united as the MUD coalition.

The political party system established in Venezuela in 1958 by the Punto Fijo Pact, and dominated by the Democratic Alliance and COPEI parties, collapsed in 1998 with the victory of Hugo Chavez in the presidential elections. Since then, and after the 1999 Constitutional reform, Chavismo has dominated Venezuelan politics, though the opposition parties have united as the MUD coalition.

Venezuela: Human rights situation

06-05-2015

PDF Version The human rights situation in Venezuela has deteriorated significantly, due to increased political confrontation and an economy in rapid decline. Criticism regarding human rights from non-governmental, regional and international organisations has intensified. The government, while it has admitted some abuse, has done little to hold those responsible to account.

PDF Version The human rights situation in Venezuela has deteriorated significantly, due to increased political confrontation and an economy in rapid decline. Criticism regarding human rights from non-governmental, regional and international organisations has intensified. The government, while it has admitted some abuse, has done little to hold those responsible to account.

The Venezuelan migrant crisis: A growing emergency for the region

17-12-2018

Although the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has traditionally been a country of destination for migrants, around 2010 its migratory profile started to change to that of a country of origin. In fact, in the past few years migration away from Venezuela has reached massive levels, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the region. According to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of Venezuelans abroad has risen from under 700 000 in 2015 to 3 million ...

Although the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has traditionally been a country of destination for migrants, around 2010 its migratory profile started to change to that of a country of origin. In fact, in the past few years migration away from Venezuela has reached massive levels, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the region. According to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of Venezuelans abroad has risen from under 700 000 in 2015 to 3 million in November 2018. About 70 % of this human wave has been directed to South American countries such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, but also to North and Central America and the Caribbean, and even Europe. The main factors contributing to this exodus are Venezuela's deteriorating political situation, a severe economic crisis and increasing violence. This mass migration could have a destabilising effect on the main recipient and transit countries. Besides individual responses developed by host countries to provide migrants with emergency assistance and protection and to facilitate their integration, Latin American countries are trying to give a coordinated regional response to the crisis. Furthermore, migration authorities, ombudsmen and NGOs have also promoted regional initiatives to defend the rights of Venezuelan migrants abroad and their access to basic services. The UN and regional organisations are also working to help deal with the crisis, and the EU is contributing €35.1 million in emergency aid and medium-term development assistance for the Venezuelan people and the affected neighbouring countries. The European Parliament sent an ad hoc mission to Brazil and Colombia in June 2018 to assess the situation, and has adopted resolutions on the subject.

The 2017 Sakharov Prize

05-12-2017

Established in 1988 by the European Parliament, the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is awarded each year in December to individuals or organisations for their outstanding achievements in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms. By awarding the 2017 Prize to the Venezuelan Opposition, the Parliament denounces the situation in Venezuela, re-affirms its support to the democratically elected National Assembly, calls for a peaceful transition to democracy, and pays tribute to the Venezuelan ...

Established in 1988 by the European Parliament, the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is awarded each year in December to individuals or organisations for their outstanding achievements in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms. By awarding the 2017 Prize to the Venezuelan Opposition, the Parliament denounces the situation in Venezuela, re-affirms its support to the democratically elected National Assembly, calls for a peaceful transition to democracy, and pays tribute to the Venezuelan people, in particular to those who have been unjustly jailed for expressing their opinions.

Presidential Elections in Venezuela : Towards 20 Years of Bolivarian Revolution ?

26-10-2012

President Hugo Chávez won his fourth presidential election, with 55.1% of the vote, almost 11% more than his main rival, Henrique Capriles, the candidate of a united opposition. Voter turnout was very high and voting took place in a calm atmosphere, with no irregularities reported. President Chávez was supported by a broad alliance led by his own United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He campaigned on a platform to reinforce social and economic change. Henrique Capriles was backed by an alliance integrating ...

President Hugo Chávez won his fourth presidential election, with 55.1% of the vote, almost 11% more than his main rival, Henrique Capriles, the candidate of a united opposition. Voter turnout was very high and voting took place in a calm atmosphere, with no irregularities reported. President Chávez was supported by a broad alliance led by his own United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He campaigned on a platform to reinforce social and economic change. Henrique Capriles was backed by an alliance integrating nearly all the opposition. Capriles campaigned on a platform advocating moderation and pragmatic solutions to solve Venezuela's problems. Both candidates recognised the result of the elections and stated their commitment to dialogue. However, it is doubtful whether this will lead to a more cooperative political climate. State elections will take place in mid-December, meaning that the government-opposition rivalry continues. Despite being cleared of cancer in July 2012, Chávez's health has led some to doubt whether he will conclude his new six-year term. The appointment of Nicolas Maduro as Vice President could be considered a possible succession strategy. The re-elected President Chávez and his government will need to address a number of challenges. Among the most important are the increase in crime rates and violence. Many analysts expect a devaluation of the currency, which could drive up the country's already high inflation rates. Yet, if oil prices remain high, the country should enjoy a substantial trade surplus and steady revenues, meaning that current economic policies are unlikely to change.

Energy as a tool of foreign policy of authoritarian states, in particular Russia

27-04-2018

Russia and other energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy exports for economic gains but also as a tool of foreign policy leverage. This study looks at the ways and methods these states have used to exert political pressure through their energy supplies, and what it means for the European Union. Most energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy wealth to ensure regime survival. But, more than others, Russia uses its energy wealth as well to protect and promote its interests in its ‘ ...

Russia and other energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy exports for economic gains but also as a tool of foreign policy leverage. This study looks at the ways and methods these states have used to exert political pressure through their energy supplies, and what it means for the European Union. Most energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy wealth to ensure regime survival. But, more than others, Russia uses its energy wealth as well to protect and promote its interests in its ‘near abroad’ and to make its geopolitical influence felt further afield, including in Europe. It uses gas supplies to punish and to reward, affecting both transit states and end-consumers. This study explores how supply disruptions, price discounts or hikes, and alternative transit routes such as Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream, are used by Russia to further its foreign policy ambitions, feeding suspicions about its geopolitical motives. The lack of transparency about Russia’s energy policy decisions contributes to this. In response, the EU is building an Energy Union based around the Third Energy Package, a more integrated European market and diversified supplies. By investing in new supplies, such as LNG, and completing a liberalised energy market, the EU will be better able to withstand such energy coercion and develop a more effective EU foreign policy.

External author

Rem Korteweg

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