Cultural life in Venezuela has its roots in
Native American, African and Spanish culture. The
influences from the rest of South America, the Caribbean
and the US are also significant.
The mix of African and European rhythms has created
several indigenous music styles. One of the more
well-known is j oropo, which is traditionally played
with harp, maracas, cuatro (a four-string small guitar)
and bandola (a pear-shaped string instrument). The
Joropo dance is said to be a further development of the
Hundreds of thousands of children, most of them poor,
are active in the orchestras, choirs and music schools
that together make up the System ("El Sistema"), a
government-funded activity that started in 1975. It has
become world famous and has successors in a number of
countries. Founder José Antonio Abreu won the so-called
Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award) in 2001
and the Polar Award in 2009 (Abreu died in 2018). The
well-known conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who was chief
conductor of the Gothenburg symphonics for several
years, has been trained in "El Sistema".
Latest population statistics of Venezuela, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
The freedom hero Simón Bolívar (see Older history)
was one of Venezuela's first writers. Contemporary with
him was the country's first great poet, Andrés Bello
(1781-1865). Characterized by the Enlightenment ideas of
freedom, they wrote political leaflets and patriotic
poetry. In the 1920s, literature was boosted by
realistic portrayals of social conditions and man's
struggle against nature. The poet and politician Andrés
Eloy Blanco (1897–1955) was hailed early for his
literary talents. Fransisco Massiani's novel Piedra de
mar is one of the most read in Venezuela. Among modern
writers is Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez.
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Venezuela. Artists and albums are also included.
Venezuela has a modern architecture. Perhaps the most
well-known Venezuelan architect was Carlos Raúl
Villaneuva, who has designed the university Universidad
Central de Venezuela. The sculptures and optical art of
Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez have been exhibited
around the world.
Most famous is perhaps Venezuela for its many TV
series which have become popular throughout Latin
America. Beauty contests are considered important and
the country has produced a number of Miss World, Miss
Universe and Miss International - something that
Venezuelans in all social strata are proud of. The great
folk sport has long been baseball, but in recent years
football has gained ground.
Director Lorenzo Vigas won the Gold Lion at the
Venice Film Festival 2015 with his film Desde alá (about
Far away), which was described as a homoerotic thriller
Political prisoners are released
An additional eight political prisoners are released, which means that a
total of 44 were released in three days in what is considered a goodwill gesture
in connection with the Christmas holidays. According to the human rights group
Foro Penal, there are a further 227 political prisoners in Venezuela.
Diplomats from Brazil and Canada expelled
The government orders Brazil's and Canada's leading diplomats in Venezuela to
leave the country, thus stepping up the fight against their critics abroad. The
decision is made by the Speaker of the Constitutional Assembly, Delcy Rodríguez.
She says Brazil's ambassador is undesirable in Venezuela until Brazil
reestablishes "the constitutional order", aimed at the country's former
left-wing president Dilma Rousseff being deposed in August 2016. Canada's chargé
d'affaires is accused of rude interference in Venezuela's internal affairs.
The mayor's post in Caracas is being demolished
The regime-based constitutional assembly decides that the capital Caracas
will no longer have a mayor. The post has long been held by the opposition and
seen as an important position of power. Antonio Ledezma was elected mayor in
2008 and remained until he was arrested in 2015, suspected of coup plans.
Ledezma escaped from house arrest in 2017 and now lives in exile in Spain.
Ex-oil chief investigated for corruption
A criminal investigation is being launched against the former head of the
PDVSA state oil company, Rafael Ramírez, who has recently resigned as UN
ambassador. Many regard the prosecutor's message as part of an ongoing political
purge. Ramírez was the head of the PDVSA for a decade when he was also Minister
of Energy. In 2014, he was appointed Foreign Minister but after only a few
months instead became UN ambassador. He resigned from that post in late
November, reportedly at Maduro's request.
PSUV major winner in boycott local elections
The ruling socialist party PSUV wins overwhelmingly in the local elections
boycotted by leading opposition parties. President Maduro says the opposition
punished itself from the 2018 presidential election through the boycott. Three
of the four major opposition parties - Justice First (PJ), Democratic Action
(AD) and the People's Will (VP) - announced at the end of October their
intention to boycott local elections, citing that the electoral system has been
rigged to the government's advantage. According to Maduro, PSUV wins 300 out of
335 mayoral elections.
Virtual currency is introduced
President Maduro announces in his weekly TV talk that a digital currency,
petro, will be created to circumvent the sanctions against the country. Petron
will be secured by oil and gas reserves as well as gold and diamond assets, and
provide new forms of international financing for the development. According to
Maduro, Venezuela's problems stem from the sanctions imposed by the United
States in August.
Killed oil managers are seized
The military seizes the fired oil minister Eulogio del Pino and PDVSA's
former chief Nelson Martínez, four days after they were deposed because of
General becomes oil chief
Maduro appoints General Manuel Quevedo as new director of the oil company
PDVSA and Minister of Energy, and commands a "total restructuring" to fight
corruption. Quevedo is a general in the National Guard and has previously been
Minister of Housing. About 50 managers of PDVSA have been arrested since August.
Recently, several senior executives at Citgo, the oil company's refining
subsidiary in the US, were also arrested because of corruption charges.
Leading government opponents are fleeing the country
Caraca's former mayor Antonio Ledezma manages to escape to Colombia, and
continues from there directly to Spain. It is unclear how he managed to get out
of the house arrest where he has been sitting for almost three years. He himself
states that he was helped by friendly-minded soldiers and police, and passed
many roadblocks on the road before he could cross a border bridge at Cúcuta.
Ledezma was mayor of Caracas from 2008 until he was arrested (see
Russian help eases the burden of debt
Venezuela reaches an agreement with Russia on a restructuring of just over 3
billion of foreign debt. The deal means that Venezuela will have ten years to
pay Russian loans from 2011 and will only have to make "minimal" payments for
the next six years.
Venezuela increasingly closer to the state bankruptcy
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's lowers Venezuela's credit rating and
explains that the country has been in a "selective default" since interest
payments of $ 200 million on its foreign debt have been absent. The oil company
PDVSA has already canceled payments. The risk is considered increasingly that
the economy is completely collapsing. A meeting that the government invited
foreign debtors to end without any concrete proposal. The purpose was to try to
restructure the payment on the external debt, which is estimated to amount to
around $ 140 billion.
New EU sanctions
The EU is increasing pressure with new sanctions on Caracas. A ban is imposed
on the sale of weapons and equipment that can be used for political repression,
assets are frozen and some government representatives receive entry bans.
New US sanctions
The United States imposes sanctions on ten Venezuelan regime officials
accused of corruption, censorship and undermining democracy. Among them are
Maduro's chief of staff and two ministers. In total, the United States now has
sanctions targeting 40 people in Venezuela.
Vague hate teams threaten freedom of speech
The faithful constitutional assembly adopts a "law against hatred and for
peaceful coexistence and tolerance" which, according to critics, involves a
severe blow to freedom of speech. Social media administrators are required to
immediately remove material that encourages "discrimination and intolerance" and
states that it may include criticism of politicians or officials. The law
provides the electoral authority with tools to dissolve political parties and
prevent candidates from registering for elections.
Opposition leaders seek protection at embassy
Opposition Leader Freddy Guevara, the National Assembly's second man, seeks
protection at the Chile Embassy the day after the Supreme Court revoked his
indictment and announced that he should be prosecuted for "public incitement"
and for exploiting a minor in criminal offenses. The Court does not give details
of the suspicions. Over the past three months, five Venezuelan judges have also
sought protection at the embassy, and four of them are now in Chile.
The opposition receives the Sakharov Prize
The European Parliament awards the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela this
year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The National Assembly with
President Julio Borges is particularly mentioned, as are a number of political
prisoners. The President of the European Parliament calls President Maduro a
Split in the opposition alliance
Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles leaves the opposition
alliance MUD in protest of the four governors who swore oath to the
Constitutional Assembly. Capriles says he can't be a part of MUD as long as
Henry Ramos Allup is. Former President Ramos is the leader of the Democratic
Action (AD), the second largest party in the MUD. The four governors who swore
the oath belong to all ADs. Capriles leads Justice First (PJ), the largest
party, which is now expected to leave the alliance with him. The will of the
people (VP), Leopoldo López's party, has also condemned the governors' actions
and said that the party will not take part in the municipal elections.
Opposition governors take office
Four of the five elected MUD governors swear office for the Constitutional
Assembly. It happens five days after the ceremony when the newly elected
governors of the government swore in. MUD then boycotted the ceremony on the
grounds that the congregation lacks legitimacy. Now only one of the opposition
governors is sticking to the boycott: Juan Pablo Guanipa, who belongs to Justice
First (PJ) and who won in the state of Zulia.
Accusations of cheating in the regional elections
The Socialist Party wins the governorship election in 18 of 23 states, but
the opposition in MUD, which wins in 5 states, refuses to recognize the result
and accuses the government of cheating. The turnout is 61 percent. Opinion
polls before the election have hinted that the opposition would win between 11
and 18 governor posts, and that the government side does not have the support of
more than about one in five voters. The opposition is now calling for street
protests and a review of the election. Prior to the election, MUD has been
divided in terms of participation - some believe that by participating, MUD
legitimizes Maduro's rule. Henrique Capriles is one of those who urged voters to
go and vote.
The IMF warns of hyperinflation
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expresses concern over the consequences
of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. According to the IMF's forecast, the
Venezuelan economy will have shrunk by 35 percent by the end of the year since
2014, and that the country is heading for hyperinflation.
Promises of continued support from Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin promises to continue economic cooperation
with Venezuela. The promise is given when Maduro visits Russia. The Venezuelan
President thanks for both diplomatic and financial support. Data from the
Kremlin before the meeting suggests that the two presidents will discuss how to
deal with Venezuela's debt problems. In the next four weeks, Venezuela will have
to repay $ 3.5 billion to bondholders. As Venezuela has become increasingly
isolated, the country has become dependent on Russian money. Negotiations are
underway to offer the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft shares in the
Venezuelan oil industry. From Moscow, Maduro travels to Belarus and Turkey.
New sanctions on Venezuela
The US is expanding its travel ban to include Venezuela (and North Korea and
Chad). However, the restrictions only apply to some government representatives
and their families. In a statement from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, the
United States is accused of "psychological terrorism". According to Venezuela,
the US travel ban violates international law. Canada also decides to impose
sanctions on some 40 people, including President Maduro and several ministers in
his government. The decision is justified by showing that anti-democratic
methods have consequences.
India supplies medicines
The authorities announce that 10 million medicines have been delivered by
India. It is about antibiotics and medicines for several chronic diseases. It is
unclear whether the drugs are a gift from India or whether they have been paid
by the government. There are concerns from some quarters about whether the drugs
are of sufficient quality.
Trump threatens new measures against Venezuela in UN speech
US President Donald Trump said in a speech in the UN that the situation in
Venezuela is "totally unacceptable" and stresses that Washington has already
intervened against the regime, but unless democracy and political rights are
restored soon, the United States is ready to take further action.
Venezuela sends emergency aid to Cuba
Venezuela assists Cuba after Hurricane Irma's progress. At the same time, it
is clear that these are not generous gifts, but rather a symbolic gesture to
confirm the friendship between the countries.
Hope for a new dialogue between the government and the opposition
President Maduro says in a televised government meeting that he is prepared
to start talks with the opposition, mediated by Dominican Republic President
Danilo Medina and former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
Maduro appoints a political heavyweight, Jorge Rodríguez of the Socialist Party,
as the government's representative in the deliberations. Opposition
representatives say they are willing to meet Medina for some initial talks.
However, the MUD sets a number of requirements for formal negotiations,
including a timetable for elections to the presidential post (but also for local
and regional elections) and that they should be monitored by international
observers. They also demand that all political prisoners be released and all
restrictions imposed on opposition leaders be lifted, and that measures be taken
to alleviate the social and economic crisis. At the same time, there are signs
that the division within the opposition is increasing. The EU has threatened to
impose sanctions on the government if no talks start.
UN human rights chief worried about the MRI situation in Venezuela
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein expresses concern over the
situation in Venezuela. He warns that " crimes against humanity " may have been
committed. He believes that an international investigation should be made of
what is happening in the country. Among other things, he points to problems with
arbitrary arrests, prosecution of opposition leaders and widespread violence
against prisoners, and in some cases torture. Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says that
the situation is likely to worsen and that Venezuela as a member of the UN Human
Rights Council has an extra-large responsibility when it comes to respect for
human rights. 116 non-governmental organizations, most of them based in Latin
America, simultaneously write to the Council and demand that it be clearly
marked against the Venezuelan and show that the abuse is not tolerated.
Opposition leaders are prevented from traveling
Imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López's wife, Lilian Tintori, tweeted
that she was stopped at the airport and deprived of her passport when she tried
to travel abroad to meet world leaders and discuss the crisis in Venezuela.
Tintori would meet French President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela
Merkel, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Britain's Prime Minister
Theresa May. Tintori writes that she intends to report on human rights
violations, on the dictatorship, on the 590 political prisoners and on the fact
that 53 percent of children in Venezuela are malnourished.
"Support for sanctions is treason"
The Constitutional Assembly unanimously decides that opposition leaders who
support US new financial sanctions on the country should be brought to trial for
treason. No one is mentioned by name in the decision.
The United States tightens sanctions
US President Donald Trump signs a decree banning US companies from doing
business with the Venezuelan government or with the state oil company PDVSA.
Serious violations of human rights and the creation of the Constitutional
Assembly are cited as reasons. The sanctions are expected to hit hard against
the already hit PDVSA. O ljeproduktionen continues to decline, and a large part
of the income goes to pay off the loans. At the same time, the government is
almost entirely dependent on oil revenues, which account for 96 percent of the
country's foreign exchange income, and which pays a large part of President
Maduro's social program.
Colombian TV channels are shut down
The communications agency Conatel bans two Colombian TV channels, Caracol and
RCN, from broadcasting in Venezuela. No cause is stated, but both channels have
reported in-depth on the trips around the deposed state prosecutor Ortega and
her husband. In February, Spanish-speaking CNN was shut down.
Deputy State Prosecutor flees the country
Luisa Ortega Diáz shows up in Colombia and states that she felt threatened
with life in her home country. The Venezuelan government is accusing her and her
husband Germán Ferrer, former MP and PSUV member, of serious crimes. They have
now both fled the country, reportedly by taking a boat to Aruba and from there
by flight to Bogota. They later move to Brazil where Ortega speaks at a law
enforcement conference, accusing Maduro and other government officials of
serious corruption. Maduro says he will turn to Interpol to get her arrested.
The Constitutional Assembly takes the role of Parliament
The newly elected Assembly votes by an overwhelming majority to take over the
powers of the National Assembly. The decision is condemned by the National
Assembly as well as by OAS and Mercusur, among others.
Peru punishes Venezuela
Venezuela's ambassador is expelled from Peru. As a reason, the Peruvian
government states that Venezuela "violated democratic rules of the game".
Venezuela responds with the same coin and orders Peru's ambassador to leave the
The United States is increasing pressure
The United States extends its sanctions (see July 2017) to
include eight members of the Constitutional Assembly, including a military who
is responsible for security for the Assembly and a member of the board of the
national electoral authority.
Mayor sentenced to prison
9th of August
The Supreme Court sentenced Ramon Muchacho, mayor of an area in Caracas, to
15 months in prison for failing to prevent street demonstrations in his
district. The next day, another mayor of the capital, David Smolansky, is also
sentenced to 15 months in prison. According to the opposition, 23 mayors in the
country have now been subject to legal action by the government.
The opposition is running for election
9th of August
The opposition alliance MUD, which boycotted the elections for the new
constitutional assembly in July, announces that the alliance intends to
participate in the regional elections at the end of the year. It happens on the
same day that the time for registering candidates expires. The electoral
authority has banned MUD from appearing in 7 of the 23 state elections.
Truth Commission new weapon against the opposition
9th of August
The newly elected Constitutional Assembly appoints a "Truth Commission" which
is given the task of examining crimes that opposition leaders are alleged to
have committed. Thus, all members of parliament may be deprived of their
prosecution immunity, states a member of the Constitutional Assembly.
The Constitutional Assembly gives itself power
Since security forces prevented opposition members in the National Assembly
from entering the congress building, the Constitutional Assembly occupies the
building's main chamber. Then, through a decree, the Constitutional Assembly
gives itself the ultimate power, with control over other branches of power. The
National Assembly has voted unanimously the day before not to recognize the
Decree of the Constitutional Assembly, but can do nothing. At a meeting in Peru,
eleven Latin American countries and Canada jointly condemn the democratic rule
in Venezuela, and they explicitly say they do not recognize the Constitutional
Assembly. The twelve countries sign the so-called Lime Declaration on Venezuela
and informally form the Lime Group, which more countries later join.
Attack on military base
Struggles break out when about 20 men led by a former army officer make a
scare against a military base in Valencia, west of Caracas. Two of the
assailants are killed and eight arrested, but allegedly the others manage to get
away with weapons in what the regime describes as a coup attempt. Maduro says it
is a terrorist group with ties to Colombia and the United States.
The prosecutor is dismissed
The Constitutional Assembly voted unanimously, as its first measure, to
dismiss the Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz. She herself refuses to admit the
dismissal but is prevented by soldiers from entering her office. The decision
triggers harsh criticism from the United States and several Latin American
countries. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay announce that Venezuela is
now suspended "indefinitely" from Mercosur, due to the democratic order being
The Constitutional Assembly takes office
The newly elected Constitutional Assembly takes office, in a hall in the same
building as the National Assembly. Among the 545 members are Maduro's wife and
son. The President will be the former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez. The
Constitutional Assembly is mandated to dissolve the National Assembly, but it is
unclear if that will happen. The Assembly says that it will sit for two years,
significantly longer than the six months previously stated needed to rewrite the
Constitution. This means that the Assembly will remain until after Maduro's term
of office expires in 2019.
Charges of electoral fraud lead to investigation
The company that has delivered the voting system states that the government's
figure for voting has been manipulated. The difference is at least one million
votes, reports the head of the company, Smartmatic, to journalists in London.
The Election Authority rejects the information, but State Prosecutor Luisa
Ortega appoints two prosecutors who will investigate four out of five heads of
the CNE Election Authority. She talks about the election as a "scandal" that
risks causing more violence in the country. The fifth CNE manager reiterates
previous criticism of the management and points out that no finished result has
been presented. OAS chief Luis Almagro tweets about the "biggest electoral fraud
in Latin America's history", in terms of both percentage and voters.
Opposition leaders are arrested
Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, who were both in house arrest, are
arrested again just two days after the election. According to his daughter,
Ledezma, former mayor of Caracas (see February 2015), is
removed from the security service wearing only pajamas. After a few days, both
were returned to the house arrest.
Extended US sanctions
After the election, the United States imposes sanctions on President Maduro,
who may freeze any assets in the United States while prohibiting American
individuals and businesses from doing business with him. A few days before the
election, similar sanctions were imposed on 13 leading Venezuelans, including
the interior minister and the army chief. In addition to the United States,
Colombia, Mexico, Peru and several other Latin American states have abstained
from the election. Among countries that have expressed support for Maduro are
Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia.
Maduro claims victory in the election
According to official data, 41.5 percent of voters participate and Maduro
calls victory the biggest in the 18-year history of the revolution. The
President calls on the 545 newly elected members to abolish the opposition
members' immunity from legal proceedings, as one of their first measures. The
opposition dismisses the vote and says only 12 percent voted. Ten people are
reported to have been killed in connection with the disputed election, which
means that since April the death rate is now 120. Among the dead are a candidate
in the election, an opposition politician and two teenagers. Despite
demonstration bans, many participated in protests before and during the
election, and the opposition calls for further demonstrations.
Protest ban before the election
Minister of the Interior Néstor Reverol proclaims that all protests that can
"disturb or influence" the disputed election are banned. Anyone who violates the
four-day ban runs between five and ten years in prison, he says. Despite the
ban, the opposition plans a mass protest and a 48-hour strike is ongoing.
National Assembly appoints "shadow judge"
As part of the ongoing power struggle, the opposition-controlled National
Assembly appoints 33 new judges to the Supreme Court. Both the sitting judges in
HD and the government dismiss the vote as illegal. HD orders "civilian and
military authorities" to take "compulsory action" against the shadow court. It
is unclear what the order means. The opposition also says it is preparing to
appoint a national unity government, which would pose a direct challenge to the
General strike against Maduro
A nationwide general strike is being carried out in protest of the planned
constitutional changes that the government opponents believe will give Maduro
dictatorial powers. According to the organizers, 5 million of the country's 30
million residents participate in the strike. On-site media reports that the
parts of the country that are opposition-friendly are almost paralyzed and
destitute, while life in the regime-friendly parts continues as usual.
Occasional violence is reported in connection with the strike and five people
are killed; the death toll since the protest wave began in April thus exceeds
The opposition holds a referendum
More than seven million people participate when the opposition organizes an
unofficial "referendum" on the constitutional amendments proposed by the Madura
government. The result is that the participants, with a large majority, reject
the government's proposal, both to amend the constitution and to hold elections
on July 30 to appoint a constitutional assembly.
Opposition leader López is moved to house arrest
Leopoldo López, leader of the opposition party People's Will, is moved to
house arrest from the prison outside Caracas where he has been serving for over
three years (see September 2015). López, who has repeatedly
denied the allegations of having called for riots, is prematurely released by
the Supreme Court for health reasons. President Maduro welcomes the court's
decision. Just hours after his release, López calls on his supporters for new
street protests against Maduro.
Opposition members are beaten by government-loyal activists
Hundreds of government-backed activists enter the National Assembly, where
they abuse members of the opposition. Over 300 people can leave the building in
the evening after being trapped for most of the day.
Criminal investigation begins against the prosecutor
Authorities are launching a criminal investigation against state prosecutor
Luisa Ortega, who has emerged as a serious threat to Maduro. Among other things,
an audit will be done to determine if she has committed any financial
irregularities. According to her supporters, the criminal charges are a
punishment for choosing to go against the government and accusing it of
violating the constitution (see June 1, 2017). Previously, the
Supreme Court has decided that her financial assets should be frozen and that
she is not entitled to leave the country.
Four are killed in connection with street protests
Four people are killed in connection with new street protests against the
government. According to Caraca's mayor, they are shot to death by government
loyal militia. At least 80 people have now been killed since the protests began
in April, and over 1,000 have been injured and 3,500 have been arrested.
The minimum wage will be raised for the third time in 2017
President Maduro raises the minimum wage for the third time since the turn of
the year. This time it is increased by 50 percent. In January it was raised by
the same amount, and in April by 60 percent.
Helicopter attack against the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court and the Department of the Interior of Caracas are attacked
by a police helicopter hijacked by a rebel police officer and unknown staff. The
courthouse is fired with four grenades and shots are fired at the Ministry of
the Interior. No one is injured in the incident that President Maduro calls a
terrorist attack. The police officer is identified as Óscar Pérez and becomes
the country's most wanted person until he is killed when the police try to
arrest him in January 2018. According to authorities, seven "terrorists" and two
police officers die in the firefight that takes place during the operation.
Military leaders are kicked
President Maduro dismisses the chiefs of the army, the air force, the navy,
and the National Guard. This is happening despite the fact that the armed forces
have continued to back the president in the ongoing crisis. Defense Minister
Vladimir Padrino López recently called on security forces not to commit "abuse,"
since video footage of police attacking and robbing protesters was released. The
number of deaths in the wave of violence since April now amounts to 74.
Twitter accounts are closed
17th of June
Twitter shuts down about 180 government-friendly accounts, including one
belonging to a radio station that broadcasts a salsa show with the president
himself as the host. Maduro accuses the American company of persecution and
General resigns in protest
National Defense Council chief Alexis López Ramírez resigns in protest of the
president's plans to appoint a constituent assembly. López is critical of how
the members of the congregation should be appointed. The drop-off raises
excitement as the military has been loyal to the government so far, despite
attempts by the opposition to win over them to their side in the ongoing power
Elections to the Constitutional Assembly are promised
Maduro states that elections will be held on the Constituent Assembly he
promised in early May. The message will then also criticize the proposal by
government members. Among the critics is state prosecutor Luisa Ortega who says
it poses a threat to democracy. Ortega, who previously stood close to Maduro,
has been increasingly on a collision course with the government since she called
the Supreme Court's action against the National Assembly in March illegal.
Later, the date for the election is set for July 30.
Criticism against government bond purchases
The opposition is sharply critical of the US investment bank Goldman Sachs
buying Venezuelan bonds for $ 2.8 billion, which is described as a lifeline for
the Madura government that strengthens its "brutal repression". The bonds have
been issued by the state oil company PDVSA. Goldman Sachs claims to have bought
them at a "discounted price" in a secondary market and not had any dealings
directly with the government. The National Assembly votes to ask the US Congress
to investigate the deal.
Opposition leader injured in demonstration
Henrique Capriles states that he and several in his company were abused by
national guardians after protesters were dispensed with tear gas. They should
also have been stripped of radios, watches and gas masks. An MEP, Carlos
Paparoni, is injured at the same time as he gets a tear gas cylinder in his
head. In total, according to the opposition, more than 250 people are involved
in a demonstration along a main road in Caracas. According to prosecutors, 60
people have been killed since the protests began.
Opposition leaders are not allowed to leave the country
Henrique Capriles states that he was deprived of his passport at the airport
and will not return it until 2020. Capriles would travel to New York to meet the
UN Human Rights Commissioner.
Judges are blacklisted in the United States
The US Treasury Department is said to have placed eight members of
Venezuela's highest court on its financial black list as punishment for
undermining the democratic process by depriving the National Assembly of its
Military is deployed in Táchira
Defense Minister Vladirmir Padrino announces that reinforcements of 2,600
people will be sent to the state in the west to prevent further riots and
looting. The capital of San Cristóbal is largely paralyzed and soldiers guard
stores and businesses. Three people have been killed in Táchira during the week,
including a 15-year-old. The protests in the country that have been going on
almost daily for seven weeks have now claimed more than 40 deaths.
New assembly will write new constitution
Maduro states that a Constituent Assembly should be appointed, consisting of
"ordinary" citizens with the task of writing a new constitution. According to
the president, the political crisis should thus be solved, as the opponents who
"threaten the country" are blocked. Opposition leader Capriles calls the
proposal constitutional fraud. The Constituent Assembly replaces the elected
Venezuela plans to leave the OAS
Since the OAS voted to hold a foreign minister's meeting following the crisis
in Venezuela, the government states that the country will leave the
organization. According to Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, the two-year exit
process should start immediately. The unrest in the country continues and the
number of casualties is approaching 30.
Silent march for death victims
Thousands of people take part in silent demonstrations around the country to
honor the approximately 20 people killed during three weeks of unrest. According
to the protesters, police and loyalist militia are behind the deaths. Many of
the participants are dressed in white.
Violent protests against the government
It becomes violent in many places when tens of thousands of people take part
in a giant demonstration which organizers call "the mother of all protesters".
At least three people are killed and many are arrested, but the violence is not
as extensive as feared. Eleven leaders in Latin American countries had expressed
concern in advance of the protest, which is the culmination of a wave of
protests that arose after HD's announcement of the National Assembly and the ban
on Capriles to participate in politics. Protesters demand that the government
resign and elections are held. Maduro has urged its supporters for
counter-demonstrations and has ordered soldiers out into the streets. Members of
the regime-armed Armed Forces "Bolivarian militia" have been invited to defend
Opposition leader suspended
Henrique Capriles, Governor of Miranda, announces that he has been ordered to
stay away from political posts for 15 years. Capriles, who has been driving the
demands of a referendum to castigate Maduro, says he does not intend to resign
as governor. If the ban is upheld, Capriles cannot stand in the 2018
HD denies Parliament influence - but is forced to back down
The Supreme Court takes full responsibility for the legislative work of the
National Assembly (see also September 2016). The OAS chief
Almagro accuses the government of having carried out a so-called autogolpe, a
coup d'état against itself. Peru revokes its ambassador in protest and critical
comments come from several Latin American countries. After a few days, HD
announces on its website that the decision has been withdrawn.
Maduro appeals to the UN for help
24th of March
President Maduro states that he has asked the UN for help to cope with the
acute shortage of medicines in the country. According to a medical association,
hospitals now have only 3 percent of the drugs and equipment they need. The
request for assistance means that the government recognizes acute problems in
the country for the sake of unusualness.
The appeal from the outside world about choice
A number of countries in North and South America are calling on the
Venezuelan government to release political prisoners and "re-establish"
democracy by holding elections. The governorship election that would have been
held by December has not yet been scheduled. However, the 14 countries - whose
statement is being conveyed by Mexico's foreign ministry - do not reflect a
threat recently announced by the OAS chief to close Venezuela from the regional
cooperation organization. Behind the statement are Argentina, Brazil, Chile,
Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay,
Peru, Uruguay and the United States.
Growing conflict over bread supply
The government threatens to fine bakeries if people have to queue to buy
bread, as all shortages of goods are considered to be due to "economic war". The
bakeries are accused of using the flour they are allocated to bake cookies
instead of plain bread. Now a rule is introduced that 90 percent of the flour
must go to bread, and the government threatens to expropriate bakeries that do
not follow the rules. According to the bakeries, there is a shortage of flour.
UN envoys should mediate in border conflict
Norwegian Dag Halvor Nylander gets commissioned by UN chief António Guterres
to try to resolve the border conflict with Guyana.
CNN turns off
Authorities order the US broadcaster CNN to cease its Spanish-language
broadcasts in Venezuela and accuse it of spreading propaganda. CNN has reported
that fake passports are issued by the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq, and that Vice
President El Aissami has been involved in the handling.
US sanctions against the Vice President
The US puts Vice President Tareck El Aissami on his sanctions list for "drug
kings" and accuses him of playing a pivotal role in international drug
trafficking. This means that the vice president's assets in the US are frozen
and he is banned from entering the country. Sanctions are also being imposed on
well-heeled businessman Samark López, who is accused of being close associates
of El Aissami.
Increased power for the Vice President
In a decree, Vice President Tareck ElAissami gives Maduro increased powers,
such as seizing property and approving the ministries' budgets. Some analysts
believe that Maduro is preparing to let El Aissami take over. The 42-year-old
vice president is accused by the opposition of having links to drug
Three new banknotes come out in the trade, between 500 and 20,000 bolívares.
The now highest denomination corresponds to around SEK 50. Inflation is
projected to reach 1,600 percent during the year.
Suspected cupmakers arrested
Authorities say four opponents of Maduro have been arrested, suspected of
planning an armed uprising. Following the opposition's new attempt to oust the
president, he has now launched an "anti-coup patrol" led by the new Vice
President El Aissami.
The National Assembly is trying to oust Maduro
The opposition, which dominates in Parliament, adopts a statement that in
practice the president "abandoned his post" by allowing the country to end up in
an "unprecedented economic crisis". As usual, the Supreme Court is expected to
annul the play (see also September 2016).
The minimum wage is increased by 50 percent
President Maduro announces that the minimum wage will be raised by 50 percent
and says the increase also applies to pensions. The message comes in the TV
speech the president holds every week. This is the fifth time in a year that the
minimum wage is being raised. Critics claim that the raises are only blocking
the already galloping inflation.
New President appointed
The opposition appoints Attorney Julio Borges as new Speaker of the National
Assembly, following Henry Ramos Allup. Borges is one of the founders of Justice
First, the largest party in the opposition alliance MUD.
New Vice President appointed
The President appoints Tareck El Aissami as new Vice President. El Aissami
was Minister of the Interior and Justice in 2008-2012 and then Governor of
Aragua. He is specifically tasked with fighting "right-wing terrorists," the
opposition that Maduro says is dedicated to destabilizing the government.