Third round of dialogue process between Venezuelan government and opposition concludes

The recent round of dialogue and negotiation process between the Venezuelan government and the platform of far-right opposition forces began amid conflict with the mediator Norway and concluded without reaching significant agreements

September 29, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Venezuelan delegation arrived to Mexico for a third round of talks in September 2021. Photo: Jorge Rodriguez

The Venezuelan government and the platform of far-right opposition forces held a third round of dialogue and negotiation process in Mexico City, Mexico, on September 26 and 27. The recent round began amid conflict with the mediator country, Norway, and concluded without reaching significant agreements.

The meeting had been scheduled to begin on September 24, but was suspended following recent comments by Norway’s outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Solberg expressed “concerns” over an alleged “decline in democracy and respect for human rights” in Venezuela at the United Nations’ 76th General Assembly last week.

After engaging in “long conversations” with Norwegian mediators and an official statement assuring Norway’s “neutrality” in the talks, the Venezuelan government accepted Norway’s apology and resumed the negotiations.

Following the third session, on September 27, Norwegian mediator Dag Nylander read a joint statement and reported that both parties “moved closer in the search for solutions to the challenges in social, economic and political matters.”

Nylander said that both sides “agreed on the need to ensure a gender-based approach in the development of dialogue and negotiation, as well as in the agreements that were reached.”

He also reported that the delegations committed to “hold consultation sessions with diverse national and international political and social actors to set up an efficient mechanism for consultation and participation.”

The Norwegian representative also said that “the delegations expressed their rejection of the acts of xenophobia against Venezuelan families that occurred in Chile, which constitutes a clear violation of human rights.”

Reportedly, the talks were scheduled to discuss the constitutional rule of law in the country, particularly in judicial and institutional areas. However, the parties didn’t provide details on the development in negotiations on these matters. Additionally, no date was set for the next round.

This weekend’s meeting followed successful encounters in August and early September. In the previous two sessions, the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition led by US-backed Juan Guiado, reached important agreements. On August 14, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Dialogue. On September 6, they signed two agreements, recognizing Venezuela’s sovereignty over Guayana Esequiba and establishing mechanisms to recover Venezuela’s resources overseas to support the population amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of these negotiations, opposition politician Freddy Guevara was released from prison. Additionally, the far-right opposition sectors, which have been boycotting the elections for the last five years, announced that they would participate in the upcoming November 21 elections. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also transferred  5.1 billion USD to the country’s international reserves.

This negotiation process is crucial for Venezuela and its people, as it could provide for lifting of the US imposed sanctions, which have greatly impacted their ability to access basic, everyday items such as food, medicine, and fuel. It is one of the major demands of the Venezuelan government as they have cost billions of dollars in economic losses to the country.

President Maduro, during a public address on Monday night, said that both sides were “advancing towards a permanent and stable peace.” The head of state highlighted that the consensus achieved on three key points: the well-being of the Venezuelan people, the cessation of the conspiracy, and the recovery of assets abroad.

Maduro also reiterated his call to the international community to refrain from interfering in the dialogue process, referring to the recent statements of the United States unofficial ambassador to Venezuela, James Story, residing in Colombia. In a social media post last week, Story tried to promote his government’s own agenda for the talks, citing statistics on the alleged presence of political prisoners in Venezuela and indirectly ordering the opposition to demand their freedom during these negotiations.

Meanwhile, the government delegation used the negotiations to respond to the US’ efforts to extradite Venezuelan envoy to the US Alex Saab. After landing at the Mexico City international airport, the representatives appeared before the press with posters demanding Saab’s release.

Saab has been detained in Cape Verde since June 2020 for an alleged crime of money laundering. He was arrested in the African country, at the request of the US government, during a stopover en route from Iran to Venezuela. Recently, the Cape Verde Constitutional Court confirmed the legality of US’ extradition request, despite the fact that the two countries did not possess an extradition treaty.