In April 2002, Venezuela appeared to be on the brink of civil war. The Venezuelan military removed President Hugo Chavez Frias from power, only to reinstall him after an outpouring of support from the Venezuelan people and after condemnations from the international community. Feeling vulnerable and shocked by the coup, President Chavez took an unusual step to defuse a social and political conflict. He invited Jimmy Carter and later the Organization of American States and the United Nations Development Program to facilitate a dialogue between the Venezuelan government and its opposition - a dialogue that lasted two years (2002 - 2004). International Mediation in Venezuela analyzes the effort of the Carter Center and the broader international community to prevent violent conflict, to reconcile a deeply divided society, and to preserve democratic processes. From their perspective as facilitators of the intervention and as representatives of the Carter Center, Jennifer McCoy and Francisco Diez present an insider account of mediation at the national and international level.
The authors describe the historical roots and nature of the conflict, and they provide insight to the main domestic actors. The volume analyzes the Carter Center's interventions at the elite level as facilitators of multiple negotiations; the peacebuilding initiatives that the Center promoted together with many Venezuelans; and the involvement of the international community. The volume examines missed opportunities and unintended consequences of many interventions and identifies lessons learned. This case study serves as a source of experience for practitioners in similar situations, a scholarly evaluation of conflict prevention efforts in the Venezuelan context, and a rich ground for theory building in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and international relations.
Jennifer McCoy is director of the Carter Center's Americas Program and professor of political science at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She has led the Carter Center's election-monitoring missions in Venezuela since 1998 and its mediation of Venezuela's political conflict in 2002 - 2004. She is coeditor of The Unraveling of Venezuelan Representative Democracy. Francisco Diez is an Argentine mediator and works as a private consultant, maintaining a working relationship with the Carter Center since 1991. He served as the Carter Center's field representative in Caracas from 2002 to 2004 and its representative in Latin America from 2007 to 2009. He has also been a member of several international electoral observation missions and is coauthor of Tools for Working in Mediation.