UNASUR Economic Team Gets to Work in Venezuela, UN Urges Dialogue

The regional team came together last week and is tasked with helping the Venezuelan government deal with the ongoing economic crisis. 


Caracas, May 23rd 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – An economic team from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) was set up in Caracas on Friday, where it will be developing recommendations to help the national government deal with a worsening economic crisis. 

Headed by former Dominican President, Leonel Fernández, the economic sub-committee was formed in response to an official request for assistance from President Nicolas Maduro earlier this year.

The new team will work on developing an agenda to rejuvenate the Venezuelan economy that is in line with the government’s Bolivarian project. 

“Our management will try to contribute to the peace and relief of Venezuelan families, as well as to the re-activation of its economic model,” said Fernández on Twitter. 

“In the future, it is fundamental that Venezuela again takes up the path of stability with economic growth, for the good of the whole region,” the former president added. 

Fernández and the economic team held a meeting on Friday with top ranking government officials before sustaining a one-on-one meeting with the Venezuelan president.

According to Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry, the two politicians discussed an economic agenda that had been devised by the subcommittee earlier on Friday. 

“President Nicolas Maduro met with ex-president Leonel Fernández! They revised an agenda to defeat the economic war,” tweeted Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez. 

Over the past two years, Venezuela has dealt with a deepening economic crisis due to plummeting oil revenues which has seriously eroded ordinary Venezuelans’ living standards. Politically motivated acts of economic sabotage, such as hoarding and speculating, have also been registered against the government. 

The deteriorating situation delivered an overwhelming victory to the government’s political opposition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), at National Assembly elections last December, provoking a stalemate between the executive and legislative branches of the Venezuelan state.

Not only will it fall on Fernández to head up the new economic UNASUR team, but he will also be responsible for leading a tricky set of negotiations between the government and its MUD rivals. 

Since arriving in Caracas last Tuesday, the former head of state has held meetings with a series of government officials as well as with politicians from the opposition coalition. Former Spanish Prime Minister, José Zapatero, and ex-Panamanian head of state, Martin Torrijos, are also involved in negotiations.

The country’s political scene has been infamously polarised since the election of the leftist Bolivarian government in 1998, which has since undergone numerous attacks from rightwing opposition at home and abroad. 

In an official statement on Saturday, United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon praised attempts to stimulate dialogue in Venezuela’s notoriously heated political environment. 

The UN head said that he was “encouraged” by UNASUR dialogue and urged both parties to “address the country’s current challenges through meaningful dialogue, adhering to the rule of law and the Constitution, for the benefit of the Venezuelan people”. 

Last week, opposition legislators officially petitioned the Organization of American States (OAS) to invoke its democratic charter clause against Venezuela. 

However, the move was rejected by a number of regional bodies and politicians. Instead, UNASUR has insisted on meaningful dialogue. 

“The Secretary-General of UNASUR has not, nor will it stop, putting its faith in dialogue, cohabitation, and definitely, in the peace of Venezuela, attempting to find alternatives to strengthen the political stability and economic recovery that our sister republic deserves,” reads an official UNASUR statement signed by Secretary General Ernesto Samper on Monday night. 

For his part,  Maduro requested that mediators work to convince the opposition to cease all attempts to oust his government.