Puebla, Mexico, September 15, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s government and opposition will hold a new round of dialogue in late September, according to an announcement Thursday.
Dominican President Danilo Medina and former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero said the talks will take place on September 27, under the observation of a group of regional countries. The meeting is set to be held in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.
“A commission of friendly countries was agreed upon,” Medina said, explaining Mexico, Chile, Bolivia and Nicaragua will all oversee the talks. Two additional, yet-to-be-named countries will also be joining the process, according to Medina.
The announcement was welcomed by the Venezuelan government, which has argued dialogue is the only solution to the country’s current political turmoil.
“This is a dialogue of peace that is set up so that Venezuela can resolve its affairs – between Venezuelans,” said Jorge Rodriguez, the government’s chief negotiator at the talks.
During a televised cabinet meeting, President Nicolas Maduro said, “Zapatero and President Medina know very well that I have been calling for this dialogue and I accept this new round of talks.”
The main opposition coalition, the MUD, said the dialogue is part of a broader effort to “save” Venezuela from “the regime of Nicolas Maduro”.
“Our strategy includes the systematic use of all political tools: pressure in the streets, political negotiation, international pressure and electoral participation,” the MUD said in a statement.
The move has also garnered the support of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, whose office said he “encourages the Venezuelan political actors to seize this opportunity.”
“The situation in Venezuela requires a political solution based on dialogue and compromise between the Government and the opposition to ensure peaceful coexistence among all Venezuelans,” a U.N. spokesperson stated.
Medina made his announcement a day after the first round of new exploratory talks between the government and MUD on Wednesday. Medina said the first two days of talks showed positive signs, but gave few details.
“We can report that yesterday’s meeting was good, and today’s meeting was better,” he said.
He added, “We made progress on defining an agenda of Venezuela’s major problems.”
Previous rounds of talks in recent years have largely failed to overcome the deepening stand-off between the government and MUD.
While Maduro has argued negotiations are the only solution to the crisis, the opposition has been divided. Much of the MUD’s far-right has dismissed dialogue as a delay tactic by Maduro. Advocates of talks say they’re only participating to push their key demands, including ending a controversial National Constituent Assembly and early presidential elections. A previous round of talks broke down in December 2016, after the MUD walked out.