After surprise news yesterday from the French government that the Mesa de la Unidad [MUD] opposition bloc and the Maduro regime would begin a new set of talks in the Dominican Republic starting today, the MUD released a statement clarifying the announcement, and stressing that no new dialogue was in fact taking place. In a press release issued yesterday, the MUD stressed that the two sides are in fact engaged in “exploratory talks” through international mediators as a prelude to what might eventually become a new dialogue.
According to the press release, the MUD is in fact sending a delegation to the Dominican Republic today at the invitation of the country’s president, Danilo Medina. The delegation’s job will be to present president Medina with a list of demands that the Maduro regime must meet in order for a new dialogue to take place.
The press release also makes it abundantly clear that this gesture does not represent the start of a dialogue with the PSUV.
Below, the MUD’s statement regarding the possibility of a new set of talks with the Maduro regime:
The MUD assures Venezuela and the world that until there exists a serious negotiation that is respectful of the Constitution, the dialogue with the government will not re-start. The [MUD] reiterates that the dialogue has not re-started, and wishes to inform Venezuela and the world what the conditions for such a dialogue are:
1. The [MUD] has stressed in different opportunities its willingness to defend the national constitution and [democratic principles] on each of the stages that the Constitution outlines.
2. As a result, we have launched intense political activities both nationally and internationally in order to earn the support needed to defend Venezuelan constitutionality and democracy, which is an answer to the demands that our people have made on the streets of the country.
3. As a result of this combined civil mobilization effort, [along with] parliamentary action on the international front and national political action, the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, has extended an invitation to explore with international facilitation the conditions under which the opposition would engage in a serious negotiation with the government, [a serious negotiation that would] meet [the MUD’s] demands.
4. The decision has been made to send a delegation to meet with President Medina, which will present him with the objectives of the national struggle for democracy.
5. These are the demands for which we Venezuelans have [launched a campaign of] civil rebellion in order to recover the constitutional thread of the country:
A) The re-establishment of the vote as the only source of the state’s power at every level. This includes [the publication of] a full and unrevokable electoral schedule that includes the dates for the regional and municipal elections, [and also the date for] the 2018 presidential election as established in the constitution, [and that includes] international observers.
B) The release of political prisoners, the revocation of [judicial orders banning opposition politicians from running for/holding office], and an end to persecution.
C) Respect for the independence of the state’s powers, and the recognition of the constitutional powers of the National Assembly, which was elected through popular vote.
6. President Danilo Medina’s invitation DOES NOT represent the start of a formal dialogue with the government. The time for symbolic gestures as ended. In order to start serious negotiations, we demand immediate actions that demonstrate a true willingness to resolve the country’s problems, [instead of a willingness to] simply buy more time.
7. We will let the country know if these [exploratory talks] have any kind of validity, and if they contribute to opening up a path forward for Venezuela.
El Nacional reported today that the MUD delegation to the Dominican Republic is headed by National Assembly president Julio Borges.
Borges: No Dialogue Until Demands are Met
Speaking from the Dominican Republic, National Assembly president Julio Borges stressed that the opposition was not engaged in a dialogue with the Maduro regime, and that no such dialogue could ever take place unless the PSUV met the opposition’s demands.
Borges was terse with his statement, telling reporters:
To reiterate to Venezuela and the world: there is no dialogue today, and there will be no dialogue until the conditions named in the [MUD] press release are met.
Borges also reminded reporters about one of the results of his tour through Europe this past week, which is the fact that the European Parliament issued a statement denouncing Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, and vowing to reject all of its acts and decisions due to its inherent illegitimacy.
On the increased international focus and pressure on the Maduro regime, Borges said:
I hope that the words pledged by the international community about finding a way forward for peaceful solutions in Venezuela will be kept up and met.
Rodriguez Hopeful that Talks Will Prove Fruitful
Jorge Rodriguez, the head of the PSUV negotiation team, said today that he was “certain” that the exploratory talks with the MUD would yield positive results for the country, and that they would ultimately result in a dialogue that would help “consolidate the spirit of peace” in Venezuela.
Before walking into his meeting with the MUD representatives, Rodriguez said:
It is through speaking that people understand one another. That’s we are here: to talk, and to sit and discuss so that we can reach an agreement.
Rodriguez is joined in the PSUV negotiating team by his sister, Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez, and former minister of foreign affairs Roy Chaderton.
CELAC-EU On Hold As Int’l Pressure On Maduro Regime Keeps Up
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) appears poised to cancel a highly anticipated joint summit with the European Union that was scheduled to take place in El Salvador on October 27-28, due as a direct result of the increased international pressure on the Maduro regime overs its hard turn towards authoritarianism.
While CELAC has yet to make a formal statement on the matter, EFE reported today that the body was seriously considering cancelling the event, citing a “diplomatic source”. The unnamed source is cited as having said the following:
We are undergoing a critical moment in Latin America given strong convulsions in Venezuela, mainly. So, it’s not known [if the summit] will be postponed, or suspended, or what decision will be taken about it.
Last week, the head of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, announced that he would not attend the summit given the Maduro regime’s continued, systemic human rights violations, as well as its continue drive towards authoritarianism.
CELAC is one of the few international diplomatic organizations that at least apparently supportive of the Maduro regime. Other organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and Mercosur, have at different times denounced a wide array of regime abuses.
US House of Representatives Holds Hearing on Venezuela
The United States House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing this afternoon titled “The Venezuela Crisis: The Malicious Influence of State and Criminal Actors”, during committee members heard testimony from experts on the ways in which parties across the world may be taking advantage of the chaos in Venezuela.
The testimony presented to the committee came from three witnesses: R. Evan Ellis, a scholar from the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Francisco Toro, the executive director of the popular Caracas Chronicles website; and Harold Trinkunas, a scholar with the Center for International Security and Cooperation and Stanford University.
A video of the hearing, along with transcripts of the experts’ statements to the committee, can be found here.
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