San Francisco, June 4th, 2014. (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Today, the 44th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) met in Paraguay. There, general secretary José Miguel Insulza referred to the peace talks between opposing parties in Venezuela, which have come to a standstill in recent weeks.
In April, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) agreed to facilitate dialogue between the Venezuelan government and lead opposing parties, at the request of the OAS. Both organizations, and Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, hoped the talks would bring an end to the violent anti-government protests that have left 42 dead since February.
“We note, with sadness, that the dialogue is not advancing,” Insulza said today before the OAS member state representatives. “Once again, we call upon the government and the Venezuelan opposition to seek an understanding the whole country longs for.”
However, the secretary expressly noted that “the solution should be achieved without pressure nor sanctions,” reiterating OAS disapproval of the US House of Representatives decision to pass a bill that includes sanctions on the South American nation. The bill is still pending, and must ultimately be approved by US president Barack Obama before becoming law.
In his weekly radio program, President Maduro said this morning, “The Democratic Unity Table [MUD, the alliance of opposition parties] put and end to the dialogue… but we’ll keep waiting for them [to re-join.] If they don’t come it’s their loss; we’ll just continue our path that Chavez marked for the future.”
The MUD issued a list of pre-conditions, which include the release of those they consider political prisoners, and the formation of a non-partisan, trustworthy “Truth Commission” to investigate violent crimes committed during opposition unrest.
Yesterday, however, Ramon Allup, general secretary of the conservative Democratic Action party, a member of the MUD alliance, reserved his support for the MUD strategy.
“There are those who are using these conditions as an excuse to avoid entering in dialogue. If we start listing demands as pre-requisites for dialogue, when in reality they are issues to be discussed, we are impeding the possibility that the meetings take place… which is the intention of some.”
The “political prisoners” include the 224 Venezuelans indicted since February for crimes related to violent protest; hard right leader Leopoldo Lopez, accused of instigating the violence; and Ivan Simonovis, ex-municipal secretary for security in Caracas during the 2002 coup attempt on Hugo Chavez. Simonovis was ultimately sentenced in 2009 for assisting in the murder of two of the 19 victims, the majority pro-government supporters, who were shot down by snipers or otherwise killed as the events of the coup unfurled.
Maduro responded to the demands this morning on his weekly radio show, exclaiming “I am supposed to free Simonovis after he led the massacre of April 11th ? Don’t ask me to free Simonovis: that [decision] is the responsibility of the court… What about justice? And the rights of the victims?”
He then reiterated the government’s plan to press charges against the United States in light of a recent plot for his assassination, uncovered by Venezuelan intelligence agencies after they intercepted emails and tapped the phone lines of suspects who have called for his ouster. At least two US diplomats were cited in the seized documents as having financed or otherwise participated in the alleged plot.
“If the United States wishes to see our evidence, we are at their service,” Maduro said.