The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) and the PSUV will meet tonight for what could turn out to be conclusion to a tenuous dialogue between the two sides. Today’s meeting will be the second time in as many weeks that the opposition bloc and the governing party will sit down to try to talk through their differences and find a peaceful resolution to the country’s political crisis.

The head of the MUD, Jesus Torrealba, said earlier today that he wanted the Venezuelan people to be “certain” that today’s meeting would yield “positive” results. He also spoke directly to opposition supporters who argue that the MUD cannot sit down and talk with the government giving the life-and-death crisis affecting millions of Venezuelans, saying:

I respect that many compatriots say that the conditions for a dialogue aren’t there, that we can’t dialogue as long as there are political prisoners, repression and people eating garbage on the street. The only thing I want to point out is that if these negative situations and actions that the government takes didn’t exist, then there would be no need for a dialogue because this would be a normal government.

Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles – who has publicly expressed skepticism over the dialogue in the past – appeared hopeful this morning, saying through his Twitter account:

Today, November 11, Venezuelans hope that the government will respect the constitution and all of their rights found therein. [We want to see] results!

The meeting is scheduled to begin at approximately 5:00 PM Caracas time.

Torrealba Lays out Hopes, Contingency for Dialogue

Speaking in a telephone interview on the Globovision network yesterday, Torrealba explained what the opposition was hoping to hear from the government today. Torrealba said:

[We want to see] the government meet some of the gestures that it agreed to meet. If that’s the case – if they announce the release of political prisoners and some other things, including something about elections – we would be heartened by that not as an achievement by the negotiating team, but rather as an achievement of the Venezuelan people in the struggle for liberty and democracy.

Torrealba also spoke on what would happen if the government did not demonstrate a willingness to work with the opposition, saying:

If the government doesn’t meet any of the agreements, or if it just settles on the releasing the five political prisoners they have precariously committed to (…) then it would be abundantly clear to the entire planet that a government that cannot even keep its promise to a dialogue group is not in any condition to lead a country out of a crisis.

Were the MUD to walk away from today’s dialogue unsatisfied with the government’s work so far, Torrealba said that the “truce” announced by the Vatican last week would officially be over.

TSJ Rules Against Restarting Recall Referendum

The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) shocked the country on October 20 when it put a halt to the recall referendum process against Maduro, citing “precautionary measures” after lower courts in several states issued simultaneous rulings earlier that day saying that fraud had been committed in an early stage in the process.

Shortly after the postponement of the recall, a lawyer by the name of Julio Alejandro Perez Graterol filed a motion with the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), the nation’s top court, calling the CNE’s decision “a violation of the right to suffrage” and demanding that the recall process be restarted immediately.

Last night, the TSJ issued a ruling in which it rejected Graterol’s motion and refused to restart the recall process against Maduro. In its ruling, the TSJ rejected Graterol’s argument, and found instead that the opposition bloc had “accumulated inept pretensions” about the recall process, in effect establishing that the MUD simply had the whole process wrong.

The TSJ’s ruling can be found here, in Spanish.

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