The negotiating table in Mexico remains deadlocked and it does not look easy to reactivate it in the short term in view of the demands of the parties. According to sources familiar with the situation, Nicolás Maduro has made it conditional on returning to talks with the opposition to release Venezuelan funds frozen abroad and to grant a license to state oil company PDVSA. There is no way out now
Washington got the message through Juan Gonzalez, Joe Biden’s adviser on Latin American and Colombian diplomacy. The United States insists that gestures such as the release of prisoners and the impeachment of opposition politicians are required from the Chavista government. Only in this way, he can agree to release the money that will be created under the supervision of the UN to combat the social and economic crisis that Venezuela is experiencing.
When the government and the opposition last met in Mexico in November, they agreed to freeze billions of dollars in government funds abroad. It was not fulfilled. OFAC, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, warned that the assets could be claimed by creditors owed to the Venezuelan government. Maduro believes that Biden has no real desire to release these funds, and the situation is settled. Since then, there has been no movement that could open up the situation.
In Mexico, an exact date must be set for the 2024 presidential election, and the opposition must promise to be able to challenge Maduro for power with minimal guarantees. The opposition is going to hold a referendum, from which a candidate will emerge who will in principle have the support of others. Over the years the anti-Saavists have struggled to unite and made the government’s work easier. Earlier in the year, they removed the interim presidency of Juan Quito, who had been used by the United States as a substitute president to isolate Maduro. It didn’t work. Guaidó has lost all support and, in parallel, the international climate has favored Maduro, entrenched in power more than ever. Countries that until recently were at odds with Chavismo, such as Spain and Colombia, have re-established diplomatic ties and reopened their embassies.
Precisely the president of Colombia, Gustavo Pedro, has taken the initiative to lead Venezuela to what he calls a liberal democracy. In his first meeting with Maduro, he used the term in a joint press conference before the stone face of the Venezuelan president. They have seen each other four more times and this issue is always on the table. Pedro, as reported by EL PAÍS, is going to organize a forum with the opposition and plans more ambitious meetings. Maduro asked the moderate opposition to be included in what he considered space parties, but Chavismo called the anti-Scorpions contemptuous. They feel that these organizations are playing Chavismo’s game and surviving in its shadow. PETRO That wasn’t a good idea.
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Jorge Rodriguez, Maduro’s right-hand man, is known as a skilled negotiator. He wants to put a license to sell Venezuelan oil on the table. Although Chevron made some concessions late last year by allowing operations, the US is blocking it with sanctions. It was a gesture to reach out to Chavismo, whom he had come to regard as a proper interlocutor as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. America must seek alternative energy providers. Domestically, the licenses Rodríguez is seeking will be a breath of fresh air for Venezuela’s coffers, and it will need to restructure its oil businesses after the ouster of that branch’s minister, Tareck El Aissami. The government has identified a $3,000 million hole in PDVSA as a result of corruption.
Colombia, for its part, has deployed its entire diplomatic arsenal to resolve the Venezuelan crisis. Armando Benedetti, the ambassador, has established strong ties with Chavismo and has traveled to Washington to carry secret messages back and forth. Pedro entrusted this task to Luis Gilberto Murillo, the ambassador to the United States, who was very secretive and cautious. Foreign Minister Leiva plays a relevant role, but above all Caracas has focused on solving some thorny issues, such as helping Colombia with peace operations and extraditing Aida Merlano, a former senator who sought refuge in Venezuela while wanted by authorities. To buy big votes. In other words, the normalization of Venezuelan political life is on the agenda of the president, who considers himself capable of solving problems. However, Venezuela and the United States have their demands, and for now he never wants to give up.
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