News Latin America What is expected of the International Conference on Venezuela in Colombia?

What is expected of the International Conference on Venezuela in Colombia?

Everything is ready for the International Conference that seeks to promote political dialogue in Venezuela and give relevance to the situation in the country, in the midst of wide differences in terms of expectations about the results, agree political consultants.

The delegation of the opposition Unitary Platform, which met with Colombian President Gustavo Petro over the weekend, hopes that Tuesday’s initiative in Bogota will result in an “exhortation” to return to negotiations with the government in Mexico.

The Colombian Foreign Minister, Alvaro Leyva, assured, after the meeting, that at the conference they will work to find a solution, on the basis that the agreement is “between Venezuelans” and that it implies an electoral schedule with guarantees and lifting of sanctions “in parallel ”.

“It makes Colombia a guarantor country, headed by the president, of what comes out there. Naturally it is not easy but we are not going to evade this commitment, we want to be precipitators and guarantors of an agreement that, I have the feeling that it is going to take place”, Leyva affirmed on Saturday night.

The preparation of the conference in which 20 countries will participate evidenced an important political movement. Petro, who denies being a mediator in a negotiation process in Venezuela, but who, in this sense, has played a very active role since he took office, met last week with his American counterpart, Joe Biden to address the matter.

Petro had assured that the objectives of the summit are “zero sanctions and more democracy.” After the meeting with Biden, he spoke of the construction of “two rails” that promote an electoral schedule with guarantees, the return of Venezuela to the Inter-American Human Rights system and a progressive lifting of sanctions.

But the US ratified its position that it will only lift sanctions if significant progress is made for democracy in Venezuela and recalled that it could “take more measures” in the event that the Maduro government “does not negotiate in good faith or does not fulfill its commitments”. .

In this regard, in the opinion of Jose Vicente Carrasquero, a mathematician with a Master’s in Political Science and consultant in Public Opinion and Electoral Campaigns in Latin America, Petro came out “convinced enough.”

Carrasquero maintains that the summit in Bogota is a “good opportunity” to point out that “there are no degrees” in democracy.

“Either there is democracy or there is no democracy. In the Venezuelan case, unfortunately, there is no democracy. The same applies to the elections, either they are free or they are not free and therefore they are not elections”, he exposes VOA.

Luis Rendueles, a political scientist, political consultant and professor at the Rafael Urdaneta University, considers that the conference will be a space to “bring closer” positions on Venezuela. However, he qualifies as a “mistake” that the Venezuelan delegations have not been invited to sit next to the participants.

“I don’t think the conference will replace Mexico, they are complementary processes, I think it can help to resume the process in Mexico,” he says.

Consulted by VOA about the factors that would make a difference in making a return to the dialogue table in Mexico, Carrasquero believes that it could be an “act of courtesy from Maduro to Petro.” However, he also affirms that courtesy does not characterize Chavismo.

“What has been noticed for a few months is that there is pressure from the Puebla Group to make Venezuela change its image before the world and it is not just opening up the economy a little, it is giving signs of confidence in terms of progress to a democratic opening, Maduro could take advantage of that”, he maintains.

However, he is not “optimistic” regarding the resumption of the process in Mexico immediately after the meeting in Bogota.

The Maduro government has conditioned political dialogue on the lifting of “all” sanctions imposed by the international community. Meanwhile, the opposition Unitary Platform insists that the dialogue in Mexico be restarted “without further delay.”

The ruling party and the Unitary Platform signed an agreement in November to create a Fund of 3 billion dollars for Social Care with resources frozen abroad, which will be administered by the United Nations (UN), to attend to the most urgent needs. urgent in Venezuela, but the funds have not been released.

In January, the coordinator of the Delegation of the Unitary Platform for the negotiation in Mexico, Gerardo Blyde, denied that they are breaching the agreement signed last year, as high government officials affirm.

electoral scenario

The outlook for the 2024 presidential elections presents disqualified political leaders and a characteristic advantage in the electoral processes of recent years. Along these lines, Rendueles reiterates that the government should make “significant concessions” in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

On several occasions the Maduro government has suggested that elections could be held this year. For Rendueles, it would be a scenario that would favor Chavismo for having control of the “agenda, media” and a defined candidate, however, although he sees it as a probable scenario, he considers that it will not happen.

“I think it is a threat in a defiant tone, but in the end it is a speech directed at the Chavista bases, which provokes the opposition, but I think that Chavismo is not going to take that step. They understand that if they want the lifting of sanctions, they cannot take that blow, which for the international community will be one more arbitrariness,” he told VOA.

Carrasquero recalls that “there is nothing” in the Constitution that allows the Executive to set a date for the elections.

“Hence the illegality of those he did in 2018. The elections are perfectly measured in the Constitution, they are carried out according to a calendar that derives from the electoral law, which is an autonomous power, which does not depend on Maduro,” highlights.

“Maduro can hardly set the date of the elections, it is a clarification that must be done because in many countries with parliamentary governments, it is the governments that call the elections, that is not the case of Venezuela,” explained Carrasquero.

Solutions with respect to human rights

Nine civil society organizations value “positively” Petro’s statements on the strengthening and activation of regional and international mechanisms for the protection of human rights and claim to see with “welcome” the efforts to promote dialogue scenarios among Venezuelans.

In this sense, they request that the bilateral agenda promoted by the Palacio de Narino with the Venezuelan authorities include respect for and guarantee the fundamental rights of Venezuelans.

“The Colombian government could discourage the implementation of greater restrictions on civic space in our country, given the violations of the rights to freedom of association and assembly; freedom of expression and information and the right to peaceful demonstration”, states a statement in a letter delivered last week to the Colombian ambassador in Venezuela, Armando Benedetti.

Source: VOA Espanol



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