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How are the dialogues between Chavismo and the Venezuelan opposition going?

Maduro Shows A Willingness To Talk With the Opposition, Could This Be the Final Negotiation?.

Nicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó.

Nicolás Maduro's national and international political position becomes increasingly precarious, the support of his international allies only gives him some oxygen, but the president (and the country) need a definitive solution. Photos: kremlin.ru, Official White House Photo

LatiAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: ¿Hacia dónde van los diálogos entre el chavismo y la oposición venezolana?

Nicolás Maduro's national and international political position becomes increasingly precarious, the support of his international allies only gives him some oxygen, but the president (and the country) needs a definitive solution. Over time Maduro has shown himself willing to negotiate, after various failures the Venezuelan president spoke about the possibility of dialogue in Mexico with the opposition. With a Maduro pressed on several fronts, an opportunity opens up for the opposition to have a serious rapprochement.

What to expect from Nicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó?

The new dialogues still have no form, President Maduro opened the door, but there is a long way to go before they become a reality. To begin with, the opposition is fragmented, the political wear of the "interim president", Juan Guaidó, has broken with the unity he had in 2019. Although it could seem an advantage for Maduro, it also adds difficulty, since he will have to dialogue with the different fronts of the opposition if it does not regain unity.

The president said on state television that he awaits a response from the opposition, his starting point is clear, he seeks to lift international sanctions on Venezuela and its government, in addition to respecting the November electoral process. Guaidó for his part has promoted the National Salvation Agreement, a movement that has "the commitment to fight until the second Independence of Venezuela", according to his own words collected by the National Assembly.

According to a video posted on his Twitter account, the agreement has four main points: free and fair elections, entry of humanitarian aid into the country, democratic guarantees, and transition with the support of the international community. Guaidó highlights that he mistrusts the regime's willingness (as he calls it) to negotiate, as he considers it a distraction similar to those used in previous dialogues. Maduro and Guaidó's sights are on the November elections, which could define the course that Venezuela will take. To avoid a repeat of the failure of other dialogues, Guaidó affirms that the international community is required as an integral part of an agreement.

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International pressure

The opposition and Chavismo have had constant negotiations, especially since Maduro is in power. The deepening economic crisis has generated pressure on his government that has sparked protests. In the international community, it has not gone unnoticed, Venezuelan migration has been seen throughout the Americas, which is why a division has been created between those who support the Maduro government and those who recognize Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country. Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China support the Maduro government. While Ecuador, Chile, the United States, Colombia, and the European Union can be counted among those who support Guaidó. This division is not fixed, the changes of government in each country can modify these supports as happened in Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Brazil.

However, the sanctions of the United States and the European Union have been more notorious. Thus, the pandemic, inflation, the humanitarian and economic crisis, the Venezuelan exodus, and accusations of repression have weakened the government's position. If Trump and Biden agreed on something, it was in their policy towards Venezuela, the current US president supports Guaidó's position of leading the country towards free elections within the framework of observance of the international community.

Also, Biden has extended Executive Order 13692 of the Obama administration, which includes sanctions on Venezuela, to exert greater pressure and force it to negotiate. The real question is whether Maduro is really willing to negotiate his position as president or if he is just looking for time to find some way out that will allow him to perpetuate himself. For now, Juan González, the representative of the Biden government for the negotiation, has begun to coordinate with the opposition the agenda that they will carry, including what they may or may not give up and the deadlines determined for the agreement to work.

Failures in previous negotiations

Maduro has been open to negotiate in the past, as evidenced by the dialogues held in the Dominican Republic between 2016 and 2018 and Norway in May 2019, where both parties had representation without reaching an agreement. Two rounds of negotiations took place. However, the third was broken due to the death of Rafael Acosta Arévalo, a military officer accused of conspiracy to carry out a coup, which generated protests such as that of Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs. Negotiations later continued in Barbados in July 2019, but now it was the Maduro government who withdrew in protest of the United States sanctions.

Mexico as the venue for these new negotiations is striking. The AMLO government is an ally of Nicolás Maduro through López Obrador, who in turn offered himself in 2019 as a mediator of the conflict in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The Mexican president relies on the diplomatic tradition of his country as a mediator in Latin America, for example with the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords that ended the Salvadoran conflict or the Tlatelolco Treaties that meant the denuclearization of the region.

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