Amid a deepening economic crisis and food and medicine shortages, the fourth year of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s six-year term has been marked by a series of near-daily protests in Venezuela starting in April 2017 when the Supreme Tribunal of Justice threatened to take over the National Assembly’s powers through a March 2017 ruling. Street protests, resulting in scores of deaths, escalated after President Maduro signed a decree in May to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. As the crisis continues, there have been various calls for international or regional mediation between the opposition and the government to arrive at a political solution – including by the Vatican. After earlier talks fell apart in December 2016, no new mediation in any model or format has been welcomed by both the government and the opposition, some of whom see general elections and freeing political prisoners as preconditions for further dialogue. The Vatican has also underscored the need for elections to be held as a precondition for serious negotiations. Through the August 2017 Lima Declaration, twelve countries in the region – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru – stated that negotiation is the only way to achieve a lasting solution to the situation in Venezuela and declared their decision not to recognize the constituent assembly.
The purpose of the Capstone Workshop is to assess the barriers and redlines holding back negotiations toward political resolution of the crisis in Venezuela. The Capstone team will identify potential confidence building mechanisms for generating good faith negotiation (or alternatively to advance any ongoing negotiation processes that begin during this project), and propose potential formats and elements for talks that parties might consider adopting.