Caracas, December 4, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Representatives of the Venezuelan government and opposition sat down for internationally-mediated dialogue in the Dominican Republic over the weekend in a bid to resolve the South American country’s ongoing political standoff.
Taking place over the course of Friday and Saturday, the talks were mediated by Dominican President Danilo Medina, former Spanish President Jose Luis Zapatero, as well as foreign ministers from Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Among the demands of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition are the opening of a “humanitarian corridor” to Venezuela for the shipment of food and medicine, the release of whom it terms “political prisoners”, new appointments to the National Electoral Council, and a solution to the standoff between the opposition-held National Assembly and the judicial branch.
The government, for its part, is urging the MUD to end its support for US financial sanctions, which it says are impeding the country’s access to international credit and delaying payments for vital imports.
Speaking during his weekly television program Sunday, President Maduro praised the “cooperative spirit” of the opposition.
“I have called for dialogue 375 times and I thank God, because we have succeeded in getting the opposition to sit down and dialogue with us,” he declared.
In a public statement Sunday, the MUD’s negotiating team confirmed that the talks went ahead “in line with previous agreements”.
However, in a controversial blindside against the government, the right-wing coalition laid the blame for the country’s current impasse squarely at the feet of the Maduro administration.
“The culprit for the humanitarian tragedy and misery in Venezuela is the failed economic model that the government has sought to impose,” the statement reads.
While no agreements were reached, Dominican President Danilo Medina confirmed that both parties will return to the table for a second round of talks on December 15.
In the meantime, President Maduro extended an invitation to the MUD Sunday to attend a follow-up meeting at Miraflores Presidential Palace this week in what he described as an initiative to “open a path for a mechanism of permanent dialogue”.
He said that the meeting “is going to help the success of the dialogue next December 15”.
Nonetheless, opposition spokesperson and National Assembly President Julio Borges refused the president’s request.
“We have a date and an agenda for the next meeting and clear rules that we must respect,” he said via Twitter.
This weekend’s talks mark the first time the government and the opposition have sat down for negotiations since dialogue efforts were relaunchedon September 13.
A subsequent meeting was scheduled for September 27, but was boycotted by the MUD, which claimed at the time that “propitious conditions did not exist [for them] to attend”.