The Government and the opposition of Venezuela are going to a fourth round of dialogue in Mexico one month before the elections (and with several short circuits)

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The representatives of the Government and the Venezuelan opposition will meet in Mexico this weekend at a key moment: just over a month before the regional elections in which it has been confirmed the participation of all sectors of the political spectrum.

In the fourth round of dialogue, mediated by Norway, eyes are on the November 21 election process because its celebration constitutes a milestone for the opposition, which is back on the electoral track, and for the Government, which has insisted that the Politics is the only way to resolve conflicts in the country, without external interference.

However, the experience in Venezuela has shown that everything can change at the last minute. The untimely withdrawal of the opposition from the previous dialogues, the external pressures of hostile actors – such as the US – or the fractures within the local right have been elements that, on other occasions, have derailed the efforts. Therefore, on this occasion, secrecy is the rule.

The pitfalls

Like any negotiation, the early agreements have been the least controversial for the parties: the first, on the guarantee of the social protection of the population (whose rights have been violated especially by the sanctions policy promoted by the opposition); the second, on the inalienable rights of Venezuela over Guayana Esequiba; and the third, on electoral guarantees and international observation in the elections.

On that last point, this week alarms went off. The statements of the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, in which he assured that the EU electoral observation mission would or would not legitimize the elections in the South American country, caused the rejection of the Venezuelan referee and the reaction from the chief negotiator of the Government, Jorge Rodríguez: “If so, better not come“, said.

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The European bloc, whose participation in the regional elections in Venezuela has been negotiated since the beginning of this year, had to go out and clarify that its electoral mission was going to respect “fully the principles of impartiality, objectivity and independence.”

But the bottlenecks of the agenda continue to be those related to the lifting of sanctions and restoration of assets of the country, confiscated abroad, especially because of the dispute over them in the opposition. While the wing of the party of ex-deputy Juan Guaidó refuses to give up control it has of these assets, other sectors of the right have criticized his opaque management and have demanded accountability, in view of the scandals and irregularities that surround to their current administrators.

External actors, such as the United States and Colombia, also enter into this struggle. Washington because it has greater power over the assets, resources and goods of Venezuela, due to the unilateral sanctions that it has applied against Caracas, while Bogotá is pressing to try to illegitimately appropriate Monómeros, a key Venezuelan company for its own food security.

In the middle, actors such as the so-called “chancellor” of Guaidó, Julio Borges (currently a fugitive from justice), complained to the former deputy for his questionable management in Monómeros and asserted that the opposition parties did not have to control the confiscated assets . For him, who supported and promoted the US sanctions policy against Caracas, the “discussion of companies is not the focus”, but rather “Maduro’s departure” from power.

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Borges’s position on the Venezuelan president is not the same as that of one of the opposition negotiators in Mexico. This week, former deputy Stalin González (who is part of the group of four parties with the most power within the right) affirmed that the dialogue table “it’s not for anyone to leave, but for Venezuelans to live in peace. “

Pending points

The reform of the justice system, the agreement on respect for the Constitutional State and the Law and the one referring to political and social coexistence are yet to enter the decision agenda.

However, the development of the electoral schedule could be key for progress in this regard, since the recognition or not of these results by all the actors would mean an advance to the state of “catastrophic draw” experienced by both the Government and the opposition in recent years.

If there are elections, it is because in Mexico there is an agreement. This is not going to solve the whole problem, but it is an important step to rescue the vote as a fighting mechanism and prepare for the future, “González said this week. From the Government, the only return of the opposition to the electoral stage is looks like a triumph.

But nobody sings victory yet. While progress is encouraging, the fragility of the agreements is notable for the number of conflicting interests. That is why the spokespersons speak little and are cautious, in any case, they know that in Mexico it could be defined whether or not a play is unlocked that affects, immediately, 30 million Venezuelans who observe the actors outside the negotiating table.

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Nazareth Balbás

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