Guest Editor's Editorial: 'Blog Symposium - Venezuela’s 2019 (Constitutional) Crisis'


Raul A. Sánchez-Urribarri

Latrobe University

Venezuela’s troubles have become global news in recent times.  The destruction of the country’s economy, the dramatic collapse of state capacity and services, the intractable political stalemate between its increasingly authoritarian government and the opposition, and the devastating humanitarian crisis that has ensued have all been well documented.    

Yet many aspects of Venezuela’s crisis are open to controversy, and need further and careful consideration. One of these aspects is the constitutional dimension of Venezuela’s crisis, which has drawn the interest of scholars and observers alike.  The most basic account of the current crisis starts with the declaration of Voluntad Popular opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim President earlier in January 2019 until free and fair elections are held, based on articles 333 and 233 of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution (See Seijas-Bolinaga, 2019). Guaidó’s claim is based on the consideration that Maduro’s ‘re-election’ in May 2018 was illegitimate and unconstitutional, and that therefore no president could take the presidency

Whilst part of the international press still refers to the event as Guaido ‘declaring himself’ president – as if the decision just rested on his will to do so – his claim for the interim presidency was based on constitutional reasoning from the start, and with concern for the rule of law. This is essential for Guaidó’s legitimacy at home, and for garnering recognition and support abroad.  Guaidó’s move has so far been recognised by over 50 countries, including the United States, Canada, a large number of European countries and the ‘Lima Group’, a number of Latin American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Perú which have agreed to act jointly to address common challenges surrounding Venezuela’s crisis and collapse of democratic rule.  Other countries have sided with Maduro and recognised its regime- including Cuba, China and Russia – or have called for dialogue (such as Mexico and Uruguay).  As of today, after three eventful months, this situation persists and no resolution seems to be in sight.

From this (very basic) account of Venezuela’s crisis derive a series of interesting constitutional questions of interest to academics, policy-makers and the broader public. The articles in this Blog Symposium have been commissioned to address these issues and several related questions of import, in order to contribute to generate a thoughtful, well-grounded debate and open avenues for current and future research on the crisis and Venezuelan constitutionalism more broadly.  The authors are legal and political science scholars with extensive knowledge of Venezuela’s legal framework and convoluted political reality.  Several of the authors are Venezuelan, lived and worked in Venezuela for a considerable time, and at least one still resides in Venezuela.

The Blog Co-Editors (Erika Arban and Tom Gerald Daly) and I hope the Symposium provides a well-informed, rigorous basis for debate on the constitutional dimension of the Venezuelan crisis.  Venezuela is one of the most emblematic cases of democratic backsliding, and it is experiencing a push for authoritarian consolidation.  As such, it is of great interest to comparative constitutionalism scholars interested in the role of constitutions and the rule of/by law in authoritarian contexts.  We encourage you to engage with the articles and to participate in the debate about these developments. Responses may be sent to the e-mail

Raul A. Sánchez-Urribarri is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Crime, Justice and Legal Studies at La Trobe University. E-mail address:

Suggested Citation: Raul Sánchez-Urribarri, 'Guest Editor's Editorial: 'Blog Symposium - Venezuela’s 2019 (Constitutional) Crisis' IACL-AIDC Blog (29 April)

Publication Schedule

Monday 29 April

Raul SÁNCHEZ-URRIBARRI, Editorial – ‘Blog Symposium: Venezuela’s 2019 (Constitutional) Crisis’


Raul SÁNCHEZ-URRIBARRI & Carlos GARCÍA-SOTO, Introductory Post – ‘A Primer to Venezuela’s Constitutional Crisis’

Wednesday 1 May

Laura GAMBOA – ‘The Venezuelan Opposition’s (Surprising) Rise from the Ashes’


Maryhen JIMÉNEZ-MORALES – ‘Challenging Autocracy: Opposition Re-Unification under Guaidó’s Leadership’

Monday 6 May

Allan BREWER- CARÍAS – ‘Juan Guaidó Is Not "Self-Proclaimed"’

Wednesday 8 May:

Josh BRAVER – ‘Radical Democracy and the Venezuelan Crisis’

Monday 13 May

Rafael MACÍA BRIEDIS – ‘A Constitutionally Enabled Crisis? The Problem of Venezuela’s Self-Negating Constitution’

Wednesday 15 May

Rolando SEIJAS BOLINAGA – ‘The Venezuelan Interim Government and its Time Constraints’

Monday 20 May

Jose Ignacio HERNANDEZ (Guaidó’s Special Procurador) – ‘We Can Work it Out:  Crafting a Constitutional Transition in Venezuela’

Wednesday 22 May

Daniela UROSA – ‘Restoring Electoral Integrity in Venezuela: Necessary Electoral Conditions to Guarantee Free and Transparent Presidential Elections’ /

‘Recuperando la Integridad Electoral en Venezuela: Condiciones Electorales Necesaias para Garantizar Elecciones Presidenciales Libres y Transparentes’

(to be posted in both Spanish and English)