Why this time will it work if so many times it failed. That is the question that Venezuelans are asking about this new attempt at dialogue between the Government and the different branches of the opposition. This is not the first time they have done it. This is the sixth attempt in history if we take the negotiations that took place during the presidency of Hugo Chávez. The last ones were in Barbados in 2017, and in Norway and the Dominican Republic two years later.
This time it is celebrated in Mexico and like Norway as a mediator. The appointment to close the conditions of the dialogue is the prelude to a meeting scheduled for the end of September.RELATED
The countries that virtually accompany each of the parties have not yet been confirmed. And the issue is not easy. The difficulty in defining the participants is that each of the people who are part of the table have to be accepted by both the ruling party and the opposition, according to various diplomatic sources to this medium.
Although there are no great expectations of what may happen – many consider it a simple resource for Maduro to buy time – there is no shortage of Venezuelans who ask to collaborate with the process.
“Anyone who has the possibility of having an impact within these two groups, be it an ally or a third country, should do everything in their power to advance this. Venezuela is experiencing a humanitarian emergency that causes avoidable suffering in the people, “explains Luz Mely Reyes, journalist and specialist in political communication, to elDiario.es.
There are some new elements in this negotiation. One of them is the change in tone. The low expectations and the extreme reserve in the information during the days before the meeting make these conversations develop with more prudence, at least in comparison with those of previous years.
“One indicator is the silence here in Venezuela. In previous processes, the government always took the lead, leaked information. Now both parties are silent. I interpret that there is interest in this conversation and that the mistakes of before ”, says Ricardo Sucre Heredia, political scientist and professor at the Central University of Venezuela from Caracas, in conversation with this medium.
Secondly, this meeting aims in this first instance and unlike the previous ones to build “the rules of negotiation.” In other words, the framework on which they will sit and talk, something that did not exist in the past.
Third, the position of the current United States government with Venezuela changed. The Biden Administration reversed the position of the Trump years. The new administration seeks to promote a political dialogue among Venezuelans, reducing their participation to a minimum. This is how even the Government of Caracas sees it.
The Maduro government that had been maintaining conversations with the republican government it no longer has them. “In times of Trump we had a lot of communication with the White House, with Elliot Abrams, with the State Department. Today, we do not have any communication with the United States Government, that is the truth,” Nicolás Maduro said last week .
But in addition, the opposition sector led by Juan Guaidó arrives more weakened in terms of international support than previous opportunities. The golden moment that Guaidó had is behind us. Although it has the support of the United States Government, the position of this country is not the same as in previous attempts.
Finally, the alignment of the European Union with the United States appears as a new variable, where negotiation appears as the main way out of the crisis.
There is no single opposition in Venezuela. If at some point they were closer to presenting some kind of unity, that was during the strong years of Juan Guaidó. But that is history. The self-proclaimed president in charge of Venezuela has lost legitimacy both inside and outside of Venezuela.
In addition, in recent times, the perception has grown that the opposition is stagnant. “There is a hopelessness, a feeling of eternal control and you cannot get out of that,” says Sucre Heredia.
The opposition is divided into at least two sides: those who will participate in the negotiating table and those who will not. That is why several specialists define this negotiation attempt as a dialogue between the Government and the G4, which leaves many other actors outside. Maduro wants them all inside but the space that Guaidó represents does not believe that many of them are a “true opposition.”
Among those who do want to participate there are three groups. The sector with the greatest political weight, better known as the G4, made up of Primero Justicia by Julio Borges, Voluntad Popular by Leopoldo López, the traditional Democratic Action and Un Nuevo Tiempo. This was the first sector to confirm its participation.
There is also the so-called “little table”. A group of about twenty parties, grouped under the seal of the Democratic Alliance, that have been more willing to dialogue with Maduro, which earned them the nickname of “the scorpions” or the “collaborationist opposition.”
Among the political figures of “la mesita” are Deputy Javier Bertucci from El Cambio and Herny Falcon from Avanzada Progresista. For Sucre Heredia, “this is not an opposition that seeks to differentiate itself from the government. It is an opposition that plays by the rules of the system but does not challenge it.”
Henrique Capriles, who was a candidate for president twice and considers himself more moderate than Guaidó, broke his silence on Thursday by calling for participation and voting in the November regional elections and confirmed that he will also participate in the talks.
“The division of the opposition in Venezuela, especially in the case of Capriles, who called to participate in the regional elections, poses a stumbling block to understand what the group that is going to sit at the negotiating table is going to look for and what they are looking for these other opposition groups, “says Luz Mely Reyes.
“The negotiation process is between the opposition and Maduro, it is not between two governments, it is between the Maduro government that controls power and we who are the opposition,” Capriles said at a press conference in reference to a part of anti-Chavismo which claims to have the “interim presidency” of Venezuela.
Former deputy María Corina Machado, the toughest wing of the opposition, will not participate in the meeting because she does not consider it a mechanism that leads to solving the problem.
Jorge Rodríguez will be at the head of this wheel for the Government. Defined by many in Venezuela as a “tough negotiator”, a “cunning person” and even a kind of “political mind” of the current government, he is undoubtedly a strong man of Chavismo. He was vice president during the years of Hugo Chávez, spent almost a decade as mayor of the city of Caracas and is currently president of the National Assembly elected in 2020 and not recognized by the opposition. But he is also the brother of the powerful vice president of Venezuela and former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez.
“When you have to play hard, he plays hard. However, he continues to be the interlocutor of everyone who believes that through dialogue and ties with groups that think differently, something can be advanced,” says the Venezuelan specialist.
There is also Héctor Rodríguez, 39, who has held various ministerial positions in different portfolios such as Sports, Youth and Education, as well as a member of the Legislative branch but who currently serves as governor of the state of Miranda. Although it does not have the political weight of the previous one, it plays a moderate role between the two.
“He is a figure that in the non-Chavista public generates less rejection of Jorge Rodriguez. The combination of the two Rodriguez, one tougher and the other more conciliatory, but within the same political project,” explains Sucre Heredia.
This Thursday, the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, reported that his son, Deputy Nicolás Maduro Guerra, will also be part of the Government delegation.
The Government sits at the table with three priority demands: the recognition of the Government as an executive branch by the opposition, the condemnation of violence as a political practice and the lifting of the economic sanctions imposed by the United States.
The United States reaffirmed Thursday that it is willing to review its sanctions policy against Venezuela if “significant progress” is made in the talks.
For its part, the G4 asks to agree on a presidential election with fair conditions capable of guaranteeing electoral competition. This implies allowing international electoral observation missions such as that of the European Union, reversing the disqualification of candidates and releasing imprisoned politicians. The last politician arrested was Freddy Guevara, number two for Juan Guaidó, in July.
This week the deadline for the registration of candidates for the regional and local elections on November 21 has been opened. The opportunity to formalize candidacies will last until August but what is not known is whether the opposition will participate and, if so, how it will do so.
“The electoral structure is dismantled, from the machinery to the prosecutors of the opposition political parties. We must find a way to reestablish the political-electoral organization of the opposition groups,” says Luz Mely Reyes.