Venezuela: Can the opposition trust Nicolás Maduro?

Despite the recent agreement between Chavismo and the opposition, how reliable is the word of Nicolás Maduro?

Nicolas Maduro

Photo: Government of Venezuela

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Venezuela: ¿Puede la oposición confiar en Nicolás Maduro?

After members of the Venezuelan opposition and delegates from the government of Nicolás Maduro reached an agreement, the atmosphere and the hopes of various detractors of the ruling party are not measured or skeptical.

Due to years of political persecution, criticism of the guarantees of the elections, and mutual mistrust, the question that arises is whether this agreement will be the beginning of a restoration of democracy in Venezuela or will only serve as a method to wash the face of a president and a party that has screwed itself into power.

Agreement Between Chavismo And The Opposition

After resuming the dialogue table in Mexico, on November 26, the group sent positive news to all those who are following this meeting. Both parties reached a partial agreement that would mean releasing the funds blocked abroad to be invested in the protection of Venezuelans. These funds had been frozen because several countries around the world were unaware of the figure of Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate president of the Venezuelan State, which made it impossible for him to access these funds.

It was agreed to deliver the money to a Social Protection Fund so that it can be invested. This fund will be managed through international procedures and with the oversight and approval of different organizations.

Additionally, a Social Attention Table was established that will be dedicated to meeting the social needs of Venezuelans. For example, this body will address health requirements, the electrical system, and public education issues, among others.

A Grim Past

Nicolás Maduro became president of Venezuela in 2013, after defeating Enrique Capriles electorally. Despite criticism for possible fraud in the ballot, Chavismo and the opposition maintained a relative relationship that allowed future elections in which both participated. However, with the passage of time and other elections, the protests and the opposition's refusal to maintain a questioned system generated greater confrontations between both sectors.

Since Hugo Chávez's successor came to power, there have been 5 different formal negotiation processes.

In 2014, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, which represented the majority of the parties and movements opposed to Chavismo, carried out the first negotiation with the Maduro government. The so-called conversations in Miraflores had the facilitating role of the Vatican, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. According to the MUD, the dialogue at that time failed due to the lack of will of the ruling party.
Then, it was in 2016 when the MUD and representatives of Nicolás Maduro returned to seek a negotiated solution to the political and social crisis that was worsening every day in the Caribbean country. This, was after the Judiciary, annulled the proposal for a recall referendum. Well as compiled by Cronica.Uno, at that time, agreements were agreed on 4 issues, but they were lifted when the Vatican asked the Maduro administration to comply with the agreements.

Then, in December 2017, under the role of Dominican Republic as a guarantor country, and the accompaniment of the governments of Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and San Vicente.
However, the call for early presidential elections in 2018 ended up sinking this new attempt. It was not until 2019 when now members of the self-proclaimed government of Juan Guaidó and Chavismo established a dialogue mediated by the Kingdom of Norway. The dialogue was held between January and July, but after new US sanctions on Venezuela, the Government Maduro left the table.

Finally, the last attempt at the dialogue was the one initiated some time ago in Mexico. The negotiations that seek a new negotiated solution to the crisis in Venezuela were lifted after the capture and extradition to the United States of Alex Saab, who is accused by the North American justice of being a figurehead for the Government of Nicolás Maduro.

However, as Maru Morales explains in Crónica.Uno, most successful negotiations are preceded by several failures. This shows that a new defeat cannot be taken for granted without first starting. It is said that the most important thing is that each failed attempt can give an experience so that the next one is more fruitful.

As Guaidó's representative in the United States, Carlos Vecchio, told CNN en Español, at the time, the negotiation would only advance if Maduro's departure was on the table. Today, with a much more favorable context for the Venezuelan president, it can be much more beneficial for the expectations of both sides to be closer to what they can achieve.

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Despite the little hope that this recent agreement may bring to most Venezuelans, it is important to understand the potential consequences of these agreements. Today, Nicolás Maduro and his entire government have a position of power more significant than that of the opposition.

Today, it is a major player in the energy crisis taking place due to the war in Ukraine that has resulted in the slowing of the flow of gas from Russia to Western Europe. Thus, Venezuela's oil and gas are needed to supply the United States and Europe and keep prices "low." Additionally, Maduro today is on a friendly regional political map. Left-wing governments that maintain a friendly (or at least impartial) relationship are much better than a few years ago, when it was surrounded by unfriendly governments, especially in Colombia, Brazil, and Peru.

This can give an idea of the goals or results that these negotiations can find. Surely, the ousting of Maduro as president will be an unlikely goal, if it was not achieved in the past, it will be less likely now. However, to be able to guarantee basic democratic liberties so that the opposition has the possibility of competing under relative conditions of parity and international surveillance that allows the holding of upcoming elections that give greater relevance and power to groups outside of Chavismo. For example, not let what happened in the last legislative elections be repeated, when the opposition achieved majorities in the Assembly, but the ruling party ignored these results, establishing a Constituent Assembly that replaced the work of the legislature.

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