In Venezuela, dialogue resumes between Nicolás Maduro and the opposition

September 5, 2021 by archyde

For the sixth time in seven years, the Venezuelan government and the opposition are sitting at the negotiating table. The two camps are due to meet again on Friday September 3 in Mexico City. The objective of the talks: to find a way out of the political and economic crisis which has plunged the country – too dependent on oil revenues – into chaos since 2013.

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Friday’s meeting follows the resumption of dialogue “From the month of May”, says Thomas Posado, associate researcher at the Paris Center for Sociological and Political Research and specialist in Venezuela. On August 13, representatives of the two parties even signed a memorandum of understanding listing seven axes of negotiations, ranging from respect for the rule of law to the lifting of US sanctions against the Chavist regime, in particular the embargo on oil.

Lifting of US sanctions

This last point is posed as a non-negotiable condition with a view to a future agreement with the opposition. “The economic crisis is also affecting the Venezuelan state apparatus”, recalls Pedro Benitez, professor of history at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and activist. The government is also demanding full recognition of the country’s institutions by the international community, while the United States and some twenty European Union countries consider the opponent Juan Guaido as interim president.

For its part, the opposition demands the organization of free elections respecting the rules of the democratic game. She has already obtained some pledges, such as the appointment of two members of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the anti-government coalition, to the National Electoral Council, the institution responsible for monitoring the elections. On August 13, popular opponent Freddy Guevara was also released.

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Nicolás Maduro, however, remains in a position of strength. “If he returns to the negotiating table, it is because he is sure that his power is not threatened”, observes Pedro Benitez. It also benefits from a fragmented opposition. Juan Guaido has achieved nothing from the Chavista regime over the past three years, despite his status as leader of the opposition and the support of the international community. “Juan Guaido is no longer credible, neither within a part of the opposition, nor among the population, disappointed with his ineffectiveness”, adds Thomas Posado.

General indifference

By boycotting all the polls since 2018, the opposition has lost much of its legitimacy with Venezuelans. “The opposition existed only through its participation and good results in the elections, explains Pedro Benitez. By calling for a boycott, it has lost its ability to mobilize. “ A finding that explains the recent change in strategy of the MUD: the organization announced Tuesday August 31 that it will again present candidates in the next municipal and regional elections on November 21.

Statements of good intentions on both sides are still struggling to convince Venezuelans. “There is a general indifference to the negotiations”, reports Pedro Benitez. It finds its source in the many failures of previous attempts at dialogue between the two camps.

Talks in the Dominican Republic in 2018 and in Barbados in 2019 have yielded nothing, except “An even more important confrontation between the government and the opposition”, comments the historian. “Government or opposition, both are considered the elites responsible for the catastrophic situation of the country, conclut Thomas Posado. Another failure is likely and would generate even more contempt. “

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my