Talks between the ruling PSUV party and the opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) bloc continued in the Dominican Republic today, the last of a two-day negotiation effort between the two sides that is being mediated by a panel of representatives from six of the region’s nations.
Today’s talks began with a clarification from the MUD regarding the progress made during yesterday’s session. At the conclusion of yesterday’s meetings, Dominican president Danilo Media suggested that the two sides had come to an agreement regarding four key points, the details of which were not spelled out.
Through its official Twitter account, the MUD explained today that in fact no agreements had been reached, and that President Medina’s “four points” comment only meant that four points had been discussed yesterday.
Below, the MUD’s clarification tweet:
We are letting the country know that the second day of negotiations is beginning. Yesterday, Friday, we discussed four points, and today we will discuss the two others. No agreements have been reached yet.
A second tweet from the MUD specific which four points had been discussed:
The points that were discussed yesterday, Friday, were: electoral guarantees, the humanitarian channel, the economic crisis and institutional collapse. At the end of today’s meeting, we will update the country.
The MUD has two goals for the negotiations: the first is to find immediate relief for the economic crisis affecting the country–by, for example, allowing international aid to enter the country–and to ensure that next year’s presidential election is not stolen via fraud by the PSUV.
Rodriguez: Talks “Tough but Cordial” So Far
Minister of Communication and PSUV negotiator Jorge Rodriguez said today that the talks with the MUD had so far been “tough but cordial”. Rodriguez made the comment to reporters this morning prior to starting the day’s negotiation.
Rodriguez also said that both sides had succeeded in maintaining decorum throughout yesterday’s session, a fact that he considers vital to ensuring an “honest negotiation between the two sides”. He also said that he hopes that the talks will result in a “coexistence agreement”, which is something that he believes would be supported by all Venezuelans “without any doubt”.
Health Minister Takes Stand Against Humanitarian Aid
Minister of Health Luis Lopez said during a speech on the state-owned VTV network today that he will not allow any humanitarian aid to enter Venezuela, citing his contempt for the international community and the Venezuelan opposition.
No one is going to kneel here before the empire [the U.S.], much less allow the right wing to impose so-called humanitarian aid when our people are being taken care of by President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela is currently experiencing the worst healthcare crisis in the country’s history, a fact that is causing untold suffering on millions of Venezuelans. Basic medicines are scarce or non-existent in the country. The average Venezuelan hospital can only count with only 22% of the medicine and supplies that it needs to operate. Diseases like tuberculosis diphtheria, malaria and tuberculosis–once rare in the country–are claiming more lives today than they have in decades due to poor healthcare management and lack of vaccines.
Just last week, the Federacion Medica Venezolana [Venezuelan Medical Federation] (FMV) issued a statement in which it blamed the “healthcare holocaust” gripping the country squarely on the Maduro regime. Part of the FMV’s statement reads:
The reason why we use the term “healthcare holocaust” is because the government is keeping hospitals in a precarious situation by not allocating to them the correct amount of supplies needed to treat emergencies. This may sound harsh, but it is the reality.
According to the Maduro regime, each one of the country’s problems is due to an ill-defined and elusive network of enemies both foreign and domestic, including the governments of the United States, Spain, Colombia, the European Union, as well as media outlets and the Venezuelan opposition.
The topic of humanitarian aid is a particularly sensitive one for the regime, since allowing humanitarian aid to enter Venezuela would require the regime to admit that there is a humanitarian crisis underway in Venezuela.
Venezuelans Take #1 Spot for U.S. Asylum Requests
Spain’s El Pais published an article today in which it reveals that Venezuelans have taken the #1 position when it comes to asylum requests in the United States. Citing official figures from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the article points out that by the end of the third quarter of this year, 21,407 Venezuelan citizens have claimed asylum in the country.
While the figures for the fourth quarter have not yet been released, that number is already 6,679 more than the number of asylum requests by Venezuelans in all of 2016.
In all of 2013, there were only 786 asylum requests made by Venezuelans in the United States. The staggering in asylum claims is testament to the collapse of the Venezuelan estate and the Maduro regime’s brutal repression of dissent.
According to Javier Torres, director of the Migrants Foundation in Florida, the total number of asylum requests by Venezuelans might reach 30,000 by the end of the year. Torres points out that December is typically the month which sees the highest migration numbers from Venezuela. He explained:
December is the month that sees the most migration from Venezuela with the excuse of visiting family. With November coming to a close, we’re already noticing an increase.
Angel Dominguez, a Venezuelan immigration lawyer out of Miami who specializes in asylum claims, reminded El Pais that the asylum claim process is a complicated one that does not always result in the request being granted. He pointed out that a common error made by claimants is that they cite Venezuelan’s collapsed economic as a reason for their asylum request. According to Dominguez, asylum can only be granted to individuals who prove that they are being targeted by the Venezuelan government due to their “race, religion, nationality, membership to a social group or political opinion“.
Venezuela Identified as Humanitarian Crisis Hotspot, Only One in the Continent
ACAPS–an independent research institute focusing on “humanitarian needs analysis and assessment”–released an overview of humanitarian crises in the world with an eye to likely developments in 2018.
The report summarizes the Venezuelan situation in the following way:
The economic crisis, political deadlock, and insecurity are likely to increase health and food needs, and continue to drive displacement.
Venezuela is the only country in the continent that has been profiled due to its humanitarian crisis.
According to the report, Venezuela is likely to experience worsening conditions next year when it comes to three broad areas: “food security & livelihoods”, “health”, and “displacement” of people seeking a better life elsewhere. The report cites the “slow erosion of democratic institutions” under the Maduro dictatorship as driving force in the “fragmenting” of the Venezuelan state, a fact that ACAPS considers will exacerbate the crisis in the country.
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