Bogota, November 17 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Venezuelan government and the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition have both confirmed that they will reinitiate previously discontinued talks on December 1 in the Dominican Republic.
The news comes after both sides expressed willingness to continue with internationally mediated dialogue efforts following regional elections on October 15 which delivered a landslide victory for the goverment.
“We inform [the public] that on December 1 and 2, a meeting will be held in Santo Domingo with the Venezuelan government and the opposition, alongside accompanying countries in the process represented by their foreign ministers, and which will be presided over by the government of the Dominican Republic,” reads a brief statement from the Dominican Republic foreign ministry.
The ministry also confirmed that an “exploratory” closed-meeting had been held between delegates from both sides in the DR Thursday to discuss the methodology of the upcoming talks. The meeting was attended by former Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas.
“We hope that the international community will support this process and the parties [involved] have the best disposition, for the benefit of democracy and the people of Venezuela,” continues the government statement.
The meeting was confirmed after a rocky start earlier this week when the MUD suspended the dialogue, announcing that it would not meet with the government until foreign ministry representatives from allied governments in Mexico, Chile and Paraguay were assured a place at the talks. Nonetheless, the coalition later said it would proceed with negotiations after having “consulted with” government representatives in the three countries, who guaranteed their presence.
The December talks will be the third time that negotiations between the two sides take place.
In 2016, dialogue mediated by the Vatican and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) came to an abrupt halt in December after the MUD withdrew, accusing the government of failing to meet its demands. At the time, the government hit back by accusing the opposition of constantly shifting the goalposts, and issuing ultimatums that had not been agreed upon.
The MUD also walked out of talks facilitated by the Dominican Republic and Zapatero earlier in September this year, citing concerns over the October elections as well as the government’s failure to release so-called “political prisoners”, despite there being no mutual agreement in this respect.
The Venezuelan opposition coalition is deeply divided between parties that support dialogue with the government, and others that oppose all negotiations and wish to oust the Maduro administration by force. The coalition almost fell apart following October’s elections, when internal differences came to a head between leading members.