Venezuela: what happened at the dialogue table between Maduro and the opposition – Venezuela – International

After the previous meeting held a few weeks ago in Paris, sponsored by France, Colombia and Argentina; the The opposition and the Government of Venezuela officially resumed negotiations in Mexico on Saturdayparalyzed for 15 months.

(Read here: The US authorizes Chevron to resume extraction operations in Venezuela)

One of the main novelties left by the first meeting in Mexico City was the incorporation into the table of the wife of Colombian Álex Saabimprisoned in the United States after being accused of being the front man for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

(In addition: Maduro: Venezuela earns 3,500 million dollars from crude oil exports)

So things, Camila Fabri de Saab assumed a space within the delegation made up of nine people from the official sector, including the chief negotiator of the Venezuelan government, Jorge Rodríguez, together with Nicolas Maduro Guerra and Francisco Torrealba.

On the opposition side, Gerardo Blyde, Freddy Guevara, Mariela Magallanes, Tomás Guanipa, among others, continue to lead.

The parties began this new phase with the signing of a second “partial agreement on social matters”, according to what was said by Norway —guarantor country— at the time of announcing the reactivation. Rodríguez pointed out that the agreement creates “a practical mechanism, aimed at addressing vital social needs and addressing public service problems.”
The US reacted as soon as the first match ended by easing part of the sanctions on Venezuela. “We join the international community in welcoming the restart of negotiations” between the two parties, said a senior US government source.

The informant pointed out that the agreement accounts for “important steps in the right direction” in Venezuela, which received sanctions relief minutes later with Washington’s authorization for Chevron to partially resume its oil extraction activities in the Caribbean country. According to the Treasury Department, Chevron can partly resume the activities of the company of which it is co-owner in Venezuela with the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), if it ensures that “PdVSA does not receive any income from oil sales made by Chevron”. The release of 3,000 million dollars of State resources frozen due to the sanctions imposed by the United States is then expected.

The idea is that these resources are used to serve the electrical system and provide social care in cases such as those affected by the rains, as well as care for the health system. The funds would be managed by UN agencies.

The background to the 2021 dialogue between Chavismo and the opposition

In September 2021, the parties signed an agreement that was not fulfilled, which also sought social attention. At that time, the creation of a National Board of Social Attention was proposed.

Now, seeing the active participation of Colombia and even France in this process and, furthermore, reviewing the content of the agreements, there are aspects that are clear and that go beyond the legitimacy or international recognition of Nicolás Maduro.
“This seems more like an achievement for the government than for the opposition,” Igor Cuotto, a specialist in negotiations and conflict resolution, tells EL TIEMPO.

On this occasion, the ruling party not only achieved the release of funds and the incorporation of Fabri de Saab, but also the relief of sanctions, generating an expectation in the increase in Venezuelan production.

The specialist also considers that it is evident how the Government has achieved direct dialogue with the US, removing the opposition from the path. Therefore, it is demonstrated that “the Government does not need the opposition to stay in power or to approve public policies.”

Looking at this agreement there is no concession, at least publicly for Maduro’s adversaries. Cuotto believes that the opposition does not gain anything. “They will say that for the country, but you did not sit there for that, but to achieve elections.”

Another point that the analyst considers as an advantage for the ruling party is the fact that, indirectly, Álex Saab is at the table. And it is that it is known that for future meetings, the request for the release of the Colombian will be one of the demands again, marking a coherence on the part of the representation of Maduro.
On another shore, there are those who think that the opposition does have some gain with this new process. “It is a new opportunity to attend to the social situation of the country, there are more significant advances,” explains the political scientist and university professor Piero Trepiccione to this newspaper.

The oil company Chevron will be able to partially reactivate its operations in Venezuela.

Colombia’s participation in the Venezuelan dialogue process

The fact that the conversations that took place previously were out of the spotlight of the media was of great help in reaching this point, says the political scientist, who also believes that Colombia’s participation is important because there is a kind of of “triangulation” made up of the dialogues between the ELN and the Colombian government, the reestablishment of relations with Venezuela and certain ideological affinities, “that gives a different incentive.”

The opposition, through a statement, has said that they ratify the willingness to work together “in order to reach agreements that allow the mechanisms that ensure the well-being of all Venezuelans to materialize.”

On the other hand, Maduro has insisted that sitting down with his adversaries is intended to recover resources. “We are negotiating with a sector that requested US military intervention.” He also said “with extremism you have to dialogue to find peace, we spend long hours looking for solutions for peace.” To this is added Rodríguez’s insistence that peace is what they are looking for when they meet the opposition again.

For Luis Vicente León, analyst and president of the polling company Datanalisis, this new attempt at dialogue must be applauded. “The United States government, the unitary opposition platform and its negotiating team, and the Maduro government are reaching some sensitive agreements, despite being enemies, because they believe they are positive for the country.”

León also considers that the fact that the Government allows frozen resources abroad to be reintroduced into projects to address humanitarian issues, managed by international organizations, is an achievement that connects the opposition with its bases.

“Of course, Maduro has benefits in any agreement reached. It is normal in a negotiation. Pretending that Maduro does not gain anything, starting from his strong position of power, controlling the country and without credible threats is stupid. Pragmatism is the only way to move forward” highlights León.

Likewise, on Saturday the parties decided to resume the points of the document signed in 2021 where political rights were taken into account and there was a commitment regarding the presidential elections.

The previous memorandum had a commitment to these seven points: political rights for all, electoral guarantees for all, electoral schedule for elections, lifting of sanctions, restoration of the right to assets, respect for the Constitutional Rule of Law, political and social coexistence. Renouncement of violence, reparation for victims of violence, protection of the national economy and social protection measures for the Venezuelan people and guarantees of implementation, monitoring and verification of the agreement.

In this context, for Cuotto, now is when the opposition and the international community must continue pressing for free elections, the lifting of political disqualifications and the release of political prisoners.

And although, with this second signature, the balance tipped in favor of the Government. However, Norway urged the parties to continue and be coy with comments that could harm the process.

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