Venezuela’s Opposition not Interested in Talks, Only Seizing Power

By Alvaro Verzi Rangel on June 3, 2019

The opposition is pressing, particularly in their collective thinking, to make the Nicolas Maduro Administration resign and pave the way for elections under international control; otherwise it will be evidenced to the world and Venezuela’s civil and military sectors that they are refusing to reach an agreement.

Talks in Norway between the Venezuelan Government and representatives of the self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido created expectations in the political scenario, though the opposition said their requirements were not accepted and the Government said the meetings represented “good news.” The international mechanism is going to keep waiting for the delegations to come back with an agreement reached by their leaders, regardless of the versions spread by the hegemonic media.

These are fruitless talks; it is not a dialog that the opposition leaders are going through again. Maduro appeared to be optimistic about the Norway meetings though, following months of “secret conversations” and he reiterated his calling for dialog as the only path, stressing that the process reduced to “good news.” We should only believe what Norway says, the rest is only fireworks, says an international diplomat who trusts Dag Nylander, the negotiating specialist, who was part of the Colombia peace process.

Whatever the result is, talks in Oslo are inevitably crossed and conditioned by confidence, a basic moral resource which directly influences the dialog’s credibility and legitimacy. At the same time, it is a crucial element for mutual respect and recognition, which entails reciprocity of expectations and obligations, rights and duties, subordinated to the relation of confidence itself.

All of it is without underestimating “rational” or objective elements which may back that belief, such as results of previous dialog attempts, commitments previously endorsed and/or failures which may undermine ethical foundations of confidence, said Venezuelan sociologist Maryclen Stelling.

“In Venezuela’s case, different dialog attempts have been undertaken from mistrust and suspicion about if the other is genuine, plus a deteriorated reputation of the adversary. That’s all contrary to the values entailed by a moral contract among actors who dialog among themselves and with the country,” she added.

Meanwhile, the scene is changing.

Some events have revealed a change on the situation about Venezuela’s crisis as a reflex of what is going on in Oslo, now marked by expectations created by the talks in Norway. For instance, questioned by GloboNews about how if he was following the situation, Donald Trump answered: “I’m just watching… There are many talks under way.”

Meanwhile from the United States business sector, Greylock Capital CEO said “Trump should be part of Venezuela’s talks so as to reach consensus;” Chevron is pressing the U.S. Government to lighten the sanctions so as to continue doing business with Venezuela in a moment in which businesspeople continue having tensions due to the economic and financial sanctions imposed against the South American country, reported Venezuelan political expert Leopoldo Puchi.

The British-based company De La Rue reported a loss of 18.1 million pounds when “a client in Venezuela was not able to transfer funds due to sanctions not related to the United Kingdom.”

The financial blockade is imposed across the board by the banking system in all fields, including health and medicine. The most striking cases are related to the blockade of payment orders issued by Venezuelan oil company PDVSA for medical treatments to children abroad.

The option of a military uprising or an armed foreign intervention continues moving —though with less intensity—, while the Government of Brazil decided not to accredit a Juan Guaido envoy to that country. According to a report by Midiapart, opposition leader Gustavo Tarre “is thinking particularly about July 5, the date when the (Venezuelan) high-ranking military command is expected to be renewed.”

In Venezuela, the National Assembly —presided by Guaido— passed the country’s joining to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance and extreme right leader Maria Corina Machado sent a letter to Colombian President Ivan Duque to request the fostering of “an international force.”

A negotiated solution would need an aspect where all parties win, said Bernard Aronson, special envoy of the Barack Obama Administration for the Colombian peace process. “Even if Maduro was willing to resign, it would be necessary to find a way for him and his circle to feel safe. Nobody is going to leave power precisely to go to jail.” A diplomatic way to highlight Guaido’s lack of internal support.

On behalf of self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, Fernando Martinez Mottola acted as chief of the team. He was accompanied by ex-deputy Gerardo Blyde, second vice-president of the National Assembly Stalin Gonzalez, and ex-rector of the National Electoral Council Vicente Diaz. On behalf of Maduro those taking part in the talks were  Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez, Miranda state governor Hector Rodriguez, and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.

Media outlets that support an aggression against the constitutional Government report that he is trying to play with time, with terms, pressed by the crisis. The opposition delegation tried to come up with the suffering of the population, a topic widely presented by U.S. think tanks, supposing it would be a sensitive issue for Norwegian negotiators —especially when they talked about the children who died due to the lack of medicines and resources to continue their treatments as a result of the fierce blockade imposed by the U.S. and its allies and associates.

But this is not the only stage of rapprochement (or distancing) of the parties. Another one is the attempt made before the Vatican by Donald Trump’s special representative for Venezuelan, Elliott Abrams, who pressed Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin with the support of Venezuelan Cardinal Baltazar Porras. But there are also contacts going on between the United States and Cuba as well as the United States and Russia.

With representatives of the European diplomacy, headed by Federica Mogherini, foreign ministers of Portugal and Uruguay, the Lima Group and the International Contact Group are going to meet Monday in New York to tackle the Venezuelan crisis and to try and put an end to the political conflict, in response to an invitation sent by the Lima Group. On Monday there would also be between the foreign ministers of Russia and Colombia, Serguei Lavrov and Carlos Holmes Trujillo, to talk about Venezuela’s situation.

Europeans are trying to impose Uruguay’s Enrique Iglesias (former director of the Inter-American Development Bank, closely tied to the IMF, ex foreign minister and leader of Spanish businesspeople in Latin America) as mediator in the conflict.

Guaido spokespeople have announced new actions on behalf of allies/accessories of the Washington plans and pressed the official delegation with this possibility, together with the speculation over an increasing civil and military unrest among Bolivarian supporters, after it was evident the lack of support of demonstrations announced by the self-proclaimed backed by the U.S..

And they talk about the soldiers who backed Guaido and fugitive Leopoldo Lopez on the fake coup d’etat on April 30 and who allegedly refuse to appear involved in a coup but who —according to them— are also pressing for negotiations.

Is Guaido floundering?

Guaido’s speech, which has opened up cracks within the opposition, is speculating with the U.S. strategy of starving Venezuelans to death, boycotting the Government’s food program (hindering the arrival of supplies to the country), affirming it will start a terminal crisis due to the lack of financial resources as a result of the economic and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. and its allies/accessories, as well as due to the piracy of Venezuelan funds and assets abroad.

The truth is that Juan Guaido’s leadership is floundering; part of his team has disbanded and plenty of opposition (let’s say) leaders have distanced themselves from his project.

For the U.S.-Venezuelan opposition team, Oslo seems like a necessary scale to reach the final stage, showing the public opinion (especially abroad) that they also took the path of negotiations in which they seem to have proved that the only problem is that Maduro continues in power.

Maduro’s exit, they think, is the first step for the military to abandon its support. Their strategy is (was?) showing that the Maduro Administration had closed the doors for a political solution.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau