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Colombia hosts meeting on Venezuelan political crisis.

Reuters

Colombia convenes new Venezuela summit

Representatives from about 20 countries, including the US, gathered in Bogotá on Tuesday as part of the Colombian government’s push to restart talks between Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro and the fractious opposition. Neither side has sent representatives, but both say they support the event.

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.

Reuters

Maduro’s not going anywhere. What comes next for Venezuela?

Just four years ago, most observers would have bet good money that Nicolás Maduro’s days at the top were numbered.

In 2018, Venezuela’s strongman president had declared himself the winner after a reelection battle that was broadly considered to be rigged. Maduro’s subsequent crackdown on anti-government protesters made him one of the world’s most reviled and isolated leaders.

It’s now been 10 years since Maduro, the foreign minister at the time, was handed the top job, and his power is more entrenched than ever. How has the Venezuelan despot survived and what might this mean for the country's politics and its people?

Meet Maduro. A former bus driver from Caracas, Maduro got his political training as a young man in Cuba. Upon returning to Venezuela, he became a big shot in the union movement and in leftist politics as a member of the United Socialist Party.

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A graph comparing Venezuela's GDP per capita with the average price of crude oil.

Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Economic turmoil in Venezuela

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves but a combination of corruption, mismanagement, and tough US sanctions since the Maduro regime came to power in 2013 has meant that the petrostate has failed to benefit from its vast reserves of liquid gold.

While high oil prices under the Chavez regime in the early 2000s gave a boost to Venezuela’s middle class, US sanctions first imposed in 2006 – and significantly ramped up under the Obama and Trump administrations – have cut Caracas off from US financial systems.

Economic hardship is rife, with a staggering 50% of people living in extreme poverty. Pervasive hopelessness has also led to one of the worst migrant crises in the world.

In a bid to offset a global energy crisis in 2022 as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Biden administration began lifting some sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector. So how are things faring? We look at GDP per capita and corresponding oil prices since 1999.
Luisa Vieria.

Stories we overlooked in 2022

A handful of stories – the war in Ukraine, China’s zero-COVID policy, and US elections – have dominated much of the media coverage this year. Meanwhile, many other crucial global stories have been woefully undercovered. We take a look at four of them.

Venezuela: The challenge of migrating again

Since strongman President Nicolás Maduro responded with an iron fist to widespread protests in 2014 over shortages of goods and sky-high inflation, Venezuela has been subject to more severe US economic sanctions that have put its already-struggling economy on life support. (One of the first sanctions was imposed by the Bush administration in 2006 over Caracas’ failure to crack down on drug trafficking and terrorism.)

As a result of the economic and political crises gripping the country, more than 7 million Venezuelans have fled since 2015, making it one of the world’s largest migrant crises. For those who stayed behind, their quality of life is abysmal: Joblessness is rife, the medical system is in tatters, and more than 67% live in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, most of those who fled sought refuge in Latin America, mainly in Colombia, where they have struggled to find jobs – forcing many women to resort to sex work or even to sell their hair to survive.

But 2022 brought fresh challenges for Venezuela's migrant population. Global inflation has disrupted Latin America’s gig economy, which many Venezuelan migrants rely on to get by. As a result, thousands have been forced to uproot their lives – again – resulting in new migration routes to North America.

Consider that in the first 10 months of this year, Venezuelans accounted for 70% of people who trekked through the Darien Gap, a perilous crossing between Colombia and Panama that’s submerged in dense jungle and swarming with drug cartels and guerrilla groups. The US recently lifted some sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector in a bid to offset losses from Russia. But Washington is still a long way off from reaching any agreements with the Maduro regime that would rescue Caracas’ economy.

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Reuters

Why Washington is chatting up Nicolás Maduro again

You can isolate some of the oil-rich strongmen all of the time, or all of the oil-rich strongmen some of the time, but that’s about it these days, as Joe Biden is quickly learning.

Last week, it emerged that the White House is exploring ways to relax certain sanctions against the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro. Under a proposed deal, Washington would allow US oil major Chevron to resume exporting oil from the country while Maduro, for his part, would agree to restart talks with the opposition about free and fair elections.

As a reminder, a 2018 crisis brought on by Maduro’s repression and economic mismanagement drove millions of Venezuelans abroad. It also landed the country under “maximum pressure” financial and energy sanctions from the US, which were designed to squeeze Maduro — the heir to “21st Century Socialist” Hugo Chávez — from power.

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Gustavo Petro: the guerilla-turned-president who wants to "develop capitalism"
“I’m a Fighter” — Colombia’s New Leftist President | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Gustavo Petro: the guerilla-turned-president who wants to "develop capitalism"

Colombia is Latin America’s longest-standing democracy, but it’s never elected a leftist president … until now.

Gustavo Petro swept to power by a slim margin in June, thanks largely to young Colombian voters. What do they want from him? Change.

It won't be easy. Petro wants to provide free university education and health care, to end oil exploration, and to tax the rich. Will he deliver?

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Chilean demonstrators take part in a rally against migrants and delinquency in Iquique, Chile, on January 30, 2022.

REUTERS/Alex Diaz

Hard Numbers: Chileans protest Venezuelan migrants, US rent on the rise, Myanmar coup anniversary, Benefits of Brexit

4,000: More than 4,000 Chileans demonstrated Monday in the northern city of Iquique against migration from Venezuela in response to a video of Venezuelan criminals attacking Chilean police at a checkpoint. Chile, one of South America’s wealthiest states, has seen a recent influx of migrants fleeing Venezuela’s deteriorating economy.

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Guaidó to GZERO: "Freedom" is the goal
Guaidó to GZERO: "Freedom" is the goal

Guaidó to GZERO: "Freedom" is the goal

Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognized as Venezuela's interim president by more than 50 countries, returned on Monday to Venezuela after nearly two weeks abroad.

His homecoming reignites the contest for power between him and President Nicolás Maduro, who still controls much of the government and the military, despite plummeting popularity and a deepening humanitarian crisis.

Guaidó shared a few words with GZERO Media just moments after he landed and rushed into a crowd of cheering supporters at Caracas' Simón Bolívar Airport. His comments are among the first he has made to foreign media since returning to Venezuela.

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