On the eve of what was supposed to be the start of a Vatican-brokered dialogue between the PSUV and the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), fifteen of the opposition bloc’s parties have issued a joint statement saying that the “the conditions for dialogue are not present”, potentially killing the talks before they have even begun.
The statement is addressed to Jesus Torrealba, the head of the MUD. Torrealba drew the ire of many top opposition leaders – including Henrique Capriles and Henry Ramos Allup – when he apparently agreed to a MUD-PSUV dialogue on Monday. Torrealba defended himself by suggesting that because he was the MUD’s top representative he had been in a position to make that call.
The document calls for no dialogue to take place between the two sides until a date for a recall referendum against Maduro is fixed for 2016 and all political prisoners are released, among other demands.
Below, my translation of the statement:
Mr. Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba, Executive Director of the MUD
Dear Mesa de la Unidad Democratica colleagues:
The political parties which have signed this document, as members of the MUD, face a serious situation by confronting a regime that has strayed from the constitutional path, as has been confirmed by the National Assembly.
This being the case, we found out through the media about a meeting between the government and elements of the MUD under the auspices of international mediators. We believe that it is time to clarify some things given the transparency that the Venezuela people deserve.
First of all, the conditions for a dialogue do not exist given the fact that the government insists on blocking all peaceful, constitutional and democratic means to transition from the worst government that we have had in Venezuela’s political history in peace. Moreover, the regime continues to promote political confrontation, persecution, violence, and attacks against all of us who oppose them.
We consider it necessary to clarify that the meeting scheduled for Sunday, October 30 is only a meeting and is in no way the formal start of a dialogue process. This clarification is important because of the international implications of using the term “dialogue” and the popular demobilization that it would generate. This clarification is necessary because as everyone knows, the President of the Republic Nicolas Maduro and his government have the bad habit of using dialogue as a way to evade its constitutional responsibilities and in order to buy time and laugh at the civic struggle the people of Venezuela are engaged in.
It is timely to remember the futility of the last dialogue attempt. Nicolas Maduro broke all of his promises even though we in the MUD did inf act maintain ours. Today, Ivan Simonovis is still imprisoned (under house arrest) even though his release was agreed upon. And, as if that were not enough, the list of political prisoners, the exiled and persecuted has grown.
The MUD has always promoted the need for a sincere and efficient dialogue, but history forces us to remain alert and not be naive. When the word “dialogue” comes out of Nicolas Maduro’s mouth we sense a trap, and we feel a great level of distrust. The dialogue would only make sense if there are guarantees that the constitutional order will be restored. On the contrary, we run the risk of falling into a new trap.
Moreover, we have the duty to acknowledge the risk of proceeding [with the dialogue?] from a strategic point of view, given the fact that a very important meeting is taking place in Cartagena as is the Summit of the Americas [sic], and much more so when governments in the hemisphere like that of Peru have proposed discussing the seriousness of the situation in Venezuela.
In light of this, we wish to put our position on this matter in writing.
We propose that the meeting scheduled for Sunday October 30 between the Vatican, members of UNSAUR and some ex-presidents be attended only be Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba as executive secretary of the MUD so that he may deliver in writing the starting conditions for the dialogue, with an understanding that he will only represent the conditions which we members of the MUD have agreed to put in writing.
From our point of view, these terms [are necessary for starting the dialogue]:
- It is fundamental that other international organizations be present at the dialogue, such as the Organization of American States (OAE) along with other former leaders of the continent in order to guarantee the impartiality that the situation requires.
- With relation to the spokespersons from the Democratic Forces and the MUD, we consider it necessary to broaden their representation not only to include members from four parties. We believe that it should also include rising political leaders, civil society and other sectors that are fundamental to the defeat of this dictatorships such as universities, workers, students and others.
- We demand the release of all political prisoners; an end to the persecution of MUD leaders; the lifting of travel limitations and prohibitions against opposition leaders and to allow the return to the country of all those who have been exiled for expressing political ideas.
- An immediate end to the abuses of the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) against the National Assembly. We demand that the people’s will be respected, as it is represented by the legislators elected on December 6 of last year and the autonomy of the legislative branch.
- The immediate opening of a humanitarian corridor to allow the MUD to organize mechanisms to help with the necessities of our citizens.
- It is unacceptable to us that Mr. Jorge Rodriguez act as a representative from the government. He recently promoted the violent takeover of the National Assembly. This individual in particular has acted cruelly and with cynicism during previous dialogue efforts, ironically stating that the agreements that the MUD announced were “mere fantasies”.
The goal of the meeting should be very clear from the start. It is to agree on terms for a transition in 2016, either through the fixing of a date for the recall referendum in 2016 or through the resignation of Nicolas Maduro or the National Assembly declaring his post empty.
The dialogue can only exist with a respect for the Constitution, the laws and the rights that all Venezuelans have for the recall referendum, the same that president Hugo Chavez once faced and won, a result which the opposition recognized and respected.
The referendum is not the result of a government’s whim. It is a right consecrated in the Constitution, and its violation by this regime – which swore to respect it and uphold it – constitutes a coup d’etat as recognized by the National Assembly, international governments and the OAS through its secretary general.
The only agreement or dialogue that can take place is the one that will take place once the recall referendum has taken place in order to cement the conditions for peace and accords for the transition to a new government.
We must remember that the path set out by the National Assembly is a compromise for a struggle that we must all undertake, taking on the same risks as our legislators.
Our priority is for a joint advance both through institutions and through street protests in order to achieve the restitution of the Constitution and democracy by calling for presidential and constitutional elections in 2016.
The following MUD member parties have signed this document:
Alianza Braco Pueblo
Unidos Para Venezuela
Unidad Vision Venezuela
Noticeably absent from the list of signatories are the MUD’s three largest parties: Primero Justicia, Accion Democratica, and Voluntad Popular.
Maduro Backtracks, Skips Cartagena Meeting
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The Ibero-American Summit is an annual meeting of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister: “Still Concerned About” Venezuela
Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Heraldo Muñoz spoke from the Ibero-American Summit today, and said that Chile was “still concerned about the polarization” in Venezuela, and for the continued human rights violations taking place in the country. Muñoz also said that the Chilean government would like to see a dialogue between the PSUV and the MUD, as this path is the most likely to result in a peaceful end to the animosity.
Peruvian Congress Declares Maduro “Dictator”
The Peruvian congress has approved a measure formally recognizing Maduro as a dictator, and has asked President Kuczynski to recall Peru’s ambassador from Caracas.
Congressman Jorge Del Castillo told NTN24 that while the government is “not obligated” to comply with its request, he hopes that it does given the situation in Venezuela.
In recent weeks, Peru has become the most vociferous opponent to the Maduro government in the region. Just today, President Kuczynski told dignitaries that the Ibero-American Summit that their meeting had to include a serious discussion about the “tremendous crisis of the economy and of political and human rights” that Venezuela is facing.
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