Venezuela:  Government-Opposition to Meet Ahead of UN Report

By Aram Aharonian on June 30, 2019

Trump leaving G20 meeting

The government of Venezuela’s constitutional President Nicolas Maduro and representatives of the opposition leaded by self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido are expected to resume talks this week to find a way out of Venezuela’s political and economic crisis, the location is yet to be determined between the chilly Oslo (Norway) or the Caribbean Bridgetown (Barbados).

A key day for upcoming results will be July 5 —Venezuela’s Independence Day and historically commemorated with a military parade — when United Nations High Commissioner Michelle Bachellet would release her final report on the human rights situation in that South American country.

The opposition rank-and-file expects the report to be tough on the Maduro Administration in order to cite a “failed state” and demand once again a foreign military intervention. They are trying to raise hopeful expectations about the possibility of getting rid of the Revolution and, at the same time, to bring anxiety among citizens through their usual cocktail of hatred and fear.

According to Argentinean media accounts, Representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Chile — members of the Lima Group (allies/accomplices of U.S. and Guaido) — coincidently condemned the “repression and systematic violation of human rights of Venezuelans by the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro” during the G20 Osaka summit.

A preparatory media campaign has already been launched, followed by the announcement of the death in custody of former Navy officer Rafael Acosta Arevalo, accused of being part of a plan to murder the Venezuelan President. He talks about assassinating the President in a video recording released through the social media, in which he used the nickname of Gonzalo. The Maduro government has launched an investigation and two members of the military have been arrested in the death.

So far, we hear about talks, rapprochement, because dialog entails other processes than just media attacks, such as reunion, recognition, negotiation, agreement and ethics, information and communication, independence and national responsibility, democracy and peace . Pressures to resume talks are coming from the Vatican and social democratic groups in Europe, with the support of Russia and China.

“The United States never said that its effort in Venezuela would be limited to one round,” said a spokesman of the National Security Council (NSC) in Washington after the Washington Post reported about the setbacks of the so-called operation freedom, aimed at ousting Nicolas Maduro.

The Post said Trump was not happy with the results of the policies launched by John Bolton and Mauricio Claver-Caronne through the NSC and that he had complained that his advisors had underestimated Maduro, now seen as a “tough nut to crack.” It also reported that given the frustration caused, it was reasonable to think that the strategy would be reformulated, as in the goals and tactics.

Guaido played down the possibility of making a great advance in the talks, insisting on the condition that any negotiation must include immediate presidential elections, repeating a chant that everybody knew was completely unfeasible.

His advisors admit Guaido is being more and more pressured by the United States and other foreign governments not to break off negotiations and allow a symbolic victory to the Constitutional Government. The opposition complained that Maduro has used previous negotiations backed by the Vatican and other entities to gain time.

The two parties met in Oslo last May at the request of Norway but they did not get an agreement. Details were not released despite some rapprochement was reached about specific issues.

BRICS — made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — also expressed a willingness to find a solution to Venezuela’s situation through dialog. Russia’s Finance vice minister Serguei Storchak said at the G20 summit in Osaka that, “The bloc is going to help to solve this process as far as possible.

Meanwhile the Organization of American States was meeting in Medellin, Colombia, simultaneously with the G20 summit where a new failure for Washington and its obsessed policy to undermine the Chavista Government was taking place. The Uruguayan delegation abandoned the meeting after being surprised, together with the representatives of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Mexico, with the unexpected accreditation of Juan Guaido’s spokespeople, the first legislator in the history of Latin America who self-proclaimed himself president.

The failed 49th OAS General Assembly passed a resolution proposed by those who demanded “free, fair, transparent and legitimate” presidential elections in Venezuela “as soon as possible.” The resolution counted on 20 votes in favor, eight against it and six abstentions.

Mexico “deeply” lamented that the OAS “claims for” powers that it does not have. Colombia demanded a regional response in the face of the migration of Venezuelans and to analyze the option of treating them as refugees, but there was not a consensus about it in the resolution.

This meeting exposed the split within the OAS, with the U.S. that Maduro “is not a man we can negotiate with” so they demanded that his exit was the first step to restore democracy in that country.

Is the U.S. reformulating its strategy?

During the last weeks, the White House has softened its rhetoric against Maduro but official sources claim the efforts to press the Chavism continue even though they are not made public.

At a press conference at the end of his participation in the G20 Osaka summit, Trump was asked about whether he is thinking of changing his strategy towards Venezuela given that he has not managed to remove Maduro from office, he replied, “I have five different strategies I could change at any moment. So many people are leaving Venezuela now… Venezuela is going to be a ghost town.”

“We have a lot of things in store if we have to do that. We do not want to get involved to the extent that you may be thinking,” Trump said referring to the military option.

But, as the Norway space appeared, Elliott Abrams took over from the State Department and accepted the meetings in Oslo, a negotiation that were not being considered when Vice-President Mike Pence said last February that “This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action.” But the actions organized and funded by the U.S. did not reach any of its targets.

In an article posted by the Herald Tribune, Abrams paved the way for negotiations, admitting the role that Chavism would play in a political future and omitting the previous condition of removing Maduro prior a new election process. This distanced him from the rigid formula of “ceasing usurpation” even though Trump brought up the possibility in his press conference.

The complete reformulation of strategic goals, aimed at putting Venezuela back into the U.S. geopolitical orbit, is in consultation and constantly in the making. Washington has not given up its goal of a complete transfer of power to the opposition without a prior agreement for coexistence and joint participation in the different spaces of power in the State and society.

Houcine Abassi, member of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, highlighted, in a visit to Caracas, the role played by the civil society “as mediator and convening power” for peace and dialog to strengthening democracy. This is, putting the interests of the country above political and personal interests, as well as preventing the meddling of foreign actors during negotiations.

As dialog in Venezuela is an important factor in the political confrontation, Abassi’s advice is remarkably accurate. In the face of these advises, sociologist Maryclen Stelling reminds us that dialog entails other processes such as reunion, recognition, negotiation, agreement and ethics, information and communication, independence and national responsibility, democracy and peace.

Peace, just as dialog, is a process that cannot be reduced to a formal agreement or a paper, a signature or a simple handshake, neither to a pact or a picture. It is a slow process that takes time to be presented to the society and to be assumed by its citizens.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano, translation, North America bureau