Venezuela is in the midst of an unprecedented social and humanitarian collapse—the result of bad economic policies and political conflict—that has led to food insecurity, the second largest migration crisis in the world, and regional instability. The international community has responded with pressure against the regime coupled with support for elements of the opposition, but to date it has been unsuccessful in bringing about a positive change.

Many experts now believe that the path to re-democratization involves a lengthy negotiation process leading to free and fair presidential elections and the rebuilding of democratic institutions. It must be based on an agreement for coexistence between all political actors and include Venezuelan civil society. Many Venezuelan civic and political leaders are supportive of this course and seek to exert their influence to bring it about. International actors will also be essential players, from a respectful distance and at the appropriate time.

USIP’S Work

Since 2018, the U.S. Institute of Peace has worked to generate the conditions for a peaceful negotiated political settlement in Venezuela by enhancing engagement and supporting moderate civil society actors, especially women, who will play an essential role in a successful negotiation process. The Institute’s expanded alliances with civil society actors include youth, religious and ecumenical leaders, women peacebuilders, and private-sector leaders who aim to advance dialogue, social cohesion, and the promotion of tolerance in order to build fertile ground for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

A Vision for Venezuela’s Future. USIP supports efforts to develop a long-term vision for Venezuela in order to create spaces for dialogue and build bridges across the current political divide. Through this initiative, USIP is countering the negative impact of political and social polarization across the political spectrum, while seeking to offer a compelling vision for Venezuelan society as a whole. 

Building a Social Dialogue and Peacebuilding Platform. USIP supports a network of more than 500 organizations across Venezuela who are promoting an inclusive dialogue—with the aim of mitigating deep polarization and helping to reconstruct the democratic social fabric of Venezuelan society. In addition, USIP offers active support to nonviolent peacebuilding cohorts seeking to develop the knowledge and expertise needed to promote peaceful, democratic change.

Mapping Past Political Dialogue Experiences. USIP has undertaken a mapping exercise to identify the various initiatives underway in Venezuela focused on bringing together diverse voices and fostering inclusive spaces for dialogue. Informed by this exercise, USIP will identify opportunities to both scale and complement existing negotiation efforts.

Supporting Women Peacebuilders. USIP has long been engaged in supporting women peacebuilders in countries affected by conflict—including civil society leaders and peace negotiators, women-led organizations, advocates for gender equality, and leaders of nonviolent movements around the globe. In Venezuela, USIP supports a network of women peacebuilders working to mitigate conflict in their communities by providing training on peacebuilding skills and conflict transformation.

Engaging Youth. USIP built on the prominent youth engagement in Colombia through its flagship Generation Change Fellows Program (GCFP) and launched a program for 26 Venezuelan youth fellows throughout Venezuela. The program elevates the work of Venezuelan youth leaders with local organizations through training on peacebuilding skills and community-based dialogue.

Creating a Binational Bridge for Peace between Colombia and Venezuela. The Institute supports a binational engagement called “Puentes Ciudadanos Colombia-Venezuela,” or “Citizen Bridges,” which is led by local civil society leaders across eight border cities. Its binational work is aimed at enhancing coordination on security, humanitarian, and commercial challenges to support more collaboration between the two countries, particularly related to humanitarian border dynamics.

New Policy Options:  USIP has used its convening and analytical capacity to help develop new options for policymakers seeking a solution to the Venezuelan crisis.  Through in-person and virtual events and published analysis, USIP has sought to raise awareness of issues in the Venezuela crisis that have not received adequate attention and gather the views of experts working on the crisis.  It has also sought to provide a platform in the United States for those Venezuelan voices advocating for new approaches to the crisis.    


Strengthening Women’s Leadership in Venezuela

Strengthening Women’s Leadership. The Institute is developing online training and support for grassroots women leaders seeking to rebuild the social fabric in their communities as they prepare to play a stronger role in formal peacebuilding efforts. USIP also supports exchanges between women leaders seeking to bridge political and social divides.

Related Publications

Vice-Presidential Candidates Lay Out Visions for Colombia’s Future

Vice-Presidential Candidates Lay Out Visions for Colombia’s Future

Thursday, May 19, 2022

By: Anthony Navone

Colombia is on the precipice of historic presidential elections amid a backdrop of significant social unrest, deepening polarization and the escalation of the country’s six-decade old armed conflict. Last year’s nationwide mass protests sprung up over worsening racial and socioeconomic inequality in most of the country’s major urban metropolitan centers, and a heavy-handed police response only served to worsen the crisis.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernancePeace Processes

La Invasión Rusa de Ucrania Sacude el Statu Quo Geopolítico de Venezuela

La Invasión Rusa de Ucrania Sacude el Statu Quo Geopolítico de Venezuela

Friday, March 18, 2022

By: Ana Caridad;  Keith Mines

Mientras Estados Unidos evalúa las consecuencias globales de la invasión rusa de Ucrania, los funcionarios estadounidenses se reunieron en silencio con el Presidente venezolano Nicolas Maduro en lo que marcó un cambio drástico en la establecida política exterior estadounidense. A pesar de las lecturas cautelosas de ambas partes, la posterior liberación de dos prisioneros estadounidenses por parte de Venezuela indica que la reunión puede haber abierto la puerta a una futura cooperación para abordar una de las peores crisis políticas, económicas y humanitarias del mundo. Ana Caridad y Keith Mines de USIP analizan lo que sabemos sobre el viaje, los posibles caminos diplomáticos a seguir, dónde encaja el movimiento de oposición de Venezuela y cómo los profundos lazos de Venezuela con Rusia podrían afectar el reciente relacionamiento entre Estados Unidos y Venezuela.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceGlobal Policy

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Shakes Up Venezuela’s Geopolitical Status Quo

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Shakes Up Venezuela’s Geopolitical Status Quo

Friday, March 18, 2022

By: Ana Caridad;  Keith Mines

As the United States gauges the global fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials quietly met with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro in what marked a dramatic shift in longstanding U.S. policy. Despite cautious readouts from both sides, Venezuela’s subsequent release of two American prisoners indicates the meeting may have opened the door for future cooperation in addressing one of the world’s worst political, economic and humanitarian crises. USIP’s Ana Caridad and Keith Mines look at what we know about the trip, the possible diplomatic paths forward, where Venezuela’s opposition movement fits in, and how Venezuela’s deep ties to Russia might affect U.S.-Venezuelan engagement.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceGlobal Policy

The Current Situation in Venezuela (Spanish)

Friday, February 18, 2022

Venezuela se encuentra en medio de un colapso social y humanitario sin precedentes – el resultado de malas políticas económicas y un conflicto político – que han resultado en inseguridad alimentaria, la segunda crisis migratoria más grande del mundo y inestabilidad regional. La comunidad internacional ha respondido presionando al régimen y apoyando a un gobierno dirigido por la oposición, que hasta la fecha no ha logrado un cambio positivo.

Type: Fact Sheet

View All Publications