A delegation from the Union de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR) arrived in Venezuela today to try to help bring a diplomatic solution to the country’s woes.
The delegation – comprised of the organization’s secretary general, Ernesto Samper as well as several chancellors from member states – met with Maduro and other high-ranking government officials in Caracas today.
At the conclusion of the meeting, UNASUR issued a statement, part of which reads:
The three founding principles of UNASUR are: maintaining peace in the region, safeguarding human rights and defending democracy. Every UNASUR nation are in agreement with the defence of the continuation of democracy in Venezuela.
UNASUR considers it essential that differences be resolved in a democratic and peaceful manner, as well as within the framework of the constitution and of the law.
Samper raised eyebrows when he stated that a separation of powers exists in Venezuela:
We’ve expressed our worry over the judicial events that have taken place. We know that there is a separation of powers in Venezuela.
Samper appeared to be referencing a string of high-profile cases (including those of Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma). The cases have been highlighted as evidence that there is no separation of powers in Venezuela, and that the judiciary is simply an extension of Maduro’s will.
Turning his attention to the scarcity crisis, Samper asked countries in the region to help provide Venezuelans with the food they need:
We’re calling on all of the UNASUR countries to help strengthen the country’s production and distribution.
UNASUR Did Not Meet with MUD
The UNASUR delegation did not invite the country’s official opposition bloc, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, to meet to discuss the situation in the country. Instead, UNASUR invited a select number of opposition leaders, none of whom officially represent the MUD.
The bloc’s leader, Jesus Torrealba, explained:
They invited a few political figures, some of the representatives from the different parties, but they did not invite the MUD. We think that this was a trap (…) so that the Venezuelan opposition would refuse to attend the meeting, so that they could tell the world that we don’t want to talk.
Torrealba said that despite the snub, the MUD agreed to be represented by two opposition figures who were invited: Henrique Capriles and Henri Falcon, the governors of Miranda and Lara state, respectively.
Speaking on the possibility of re-starting a formal dialogue with the government, Torrealba said:
If they [the government] want to talk, they should know that Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez will be at the negotiating table. Our political prisoners will be there to represent the voice of our democratic country.
National Assembly Deputy Carlos Berrizbeitia echoed Torrealba’s sentiments, and said that a meaningful dialogue was impossible as long as there were political prisoners in the country. He also asked the UNASUR delegation to visit the Ramo Verde military facility and la tumba, located in the basement of the SEBIN headquarters in Caracas.
Capriles argued that a political resolution to the crisis requires a government that is willing to work within the law:
In our country, the government needs to respect the constitution. They have on numerous occassions violated it. They are the ones who use power to send people to prison.
Rodriguez Torres: Resolution 8610 “Unnecessary and Provocatory”
Former Minister of the Interior and Justice Miguel Rodriguez Torres broke away from the government line on Resolution 8610 today, calling it “unnecessary and provocatory”.
The resolution has been decried by the opposition, since it allows for the army to use deadly force to stop peaceful protests.
Torres explained that while he believes that the resolution’s intention is “good”, it misses the mark:
… I believe that it is unnecessary and provocatory [and gives rise] to a debate that, sensibly, should be undertaken with due carefulness. I want to make clear that the Bolivarian revolution and its institutions have rescued the sacred and fundamental essence of human rights, going as far as amplifying their values across time and space.
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