In his blog post “The EU and Venezuela: More Bad Advice”, published on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams critically reviews my thoughts on “A New Framework for Dealing with Venezuela: From Democracy to Conflict Resolution”. In this piece, I argued that the EU should shift from what I call the “democracy framework” to a “framework of peace mediation and conflict resolution”. Abrams’ comments give me the opportunity to clarify some issues and tease out key differences between his approach and the one I am arguing for.
Venezuela is mired in a prolonged, multifaceted crisis, to which no solutions are in sight. In the wake of the country’s December 2020 parliamentary election, the EU needs to rethink some of the basic premises of its policy toward Venezuela. Instead of quarreling about which domestic actors and political institutions should be recognized as democratic, the EU should approach the country through a lens of conflict resolution. While a democracy-based framework divides the EU and a broad range of other external actors, a framework focused on conflict resolution may increase the chances of a more coordinated international response. That approach may be more likely to lead—eventually and indirectly—to some kind of inclusive political settlement in Venezuela.