Biden and the turn of Europe lay the foundations for a new attempt at dialogue in Venezuela | International

Nicolás Maduro on January 22, in Caracas.MANAURE QUINTERO / Reuters

There are no negotiators, much less a defined timetable, but a new attempt to dialogue in Venezuela is closer today than yesterday. The Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House after four years of Administration of Donald Trump —A triumph of rhetoric against Nicolás Maduro without concrete results — and the turn of the European Union to Juan Guaidó in themselves they lay the foundations to rehearse some contacts between Chavismo and the opposition. Any negotiation in the South American country is presented as an obstacle course. All recent processes have failed. However, with a government increasingly installed in power and its adversaries harassed and divided, the only alternative to an agreed solution, starting with elections, involves perpetuating the serious emergency suffered by millions of Venezuelans.

The 27 member countries of the EU again avoided, this week, recognizing Guaidó as interim president, a position that was assigned, with broad international support led by the United States, two years ago in the face of Maduro’s deep crisis of legitimacy. On January 5, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) regained control of the National Assembly after parliamentary elections to which it attended practically alone, without competition. The opposition leader thus lost the status of head of the legislative branch and was effectively left out of the institutions.

Brussels continues to accept the politician as a privileged interlocutor in Venezuela, but the position of Europe, in favor of exploring new conversations, clashes with the plans of the anti-Chavez sector that he heads and that made the word dialogue a taboo. The last time Guaidó agreed to negotiate, timidly and through envoys, It was in the summer of 2019 during an attempt promoted by Norway in Barbados. Last year, in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Chavismo and the opposition reached specific agreements on the management of the health crisis, which shows that everything is a matter of political will. But from there it did not happen.

The European Union is committed to an “inclusive process of dialogue and negotiation”, although the high representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, acknowledged in an interview with Efe that there are currently no signs that an exploratory phase is going to open. To this is added that even Henrique Capriles, another prominent opposition leader, also openly departed from the strategy of Guaidó and Leopoldo López, who seek to return to a stage of permanent mobilization on the street. Capriles even opened the door to participate in the parliamentary elections in December, although he finally resigned due to lack of guarantees.

“There are several communiqués from democratic governments and multilateral organizations insisting on the search for a peaceful and negotiated political solution that alleviates the suffering of Venezuelans,” wrote the founder of the Primero Justicia party two weeks ago. in a gallery published in EL PAÍS. “The countries that support our democratic struggle speak of negotiation, because let us align all the parties and insist on achieving the new Electoral Power that Venezuelans have been denied as well as a Supreme Court, a prosecutor and a comptroller that they give to the institutions a republican balance recognized by all ”, he exhorted.

Distrust

The distrust between the parties is enormous. If the opposition has always had a serious leadership problem to concur united in an electoral process, Chavismo has not been willing to make concessions and has managed to convince some sectors of public opinion, also abroad, that its rivals they are the real responsible for the crisis. This argument is fueled by protests, riots, attempts to break up the Armed Forces and the economic sanctions of the United States. None of that helped.

Biden’s victory, who took office on January 20, opens a new scenario, although at the moment there is no clear definition. The Democrat’s decision to review the measures adopted by Trump against Cuba points to a shift in focus in regional policy. According to several analysts, the new Administration will relax the sanctions against Maduro and Petróleos de Venezuela and will seek some contact with Caracas. But that change will be gradual. For now, the only thing clear is that Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has made the Venezuelan crisis a priority for US foreign policy in Latin America.

Blinken spoke with Colombian Foreign Minister Claudia Blum on Friday and discussed the situation of the Chavista regime. “The Secretary and Chancellor Blum discussed their shared commitment to the restoration of democracy and economic stability in Venezuela,” said a State Department spokesman. The new head of US diplomacy also ratified “the importance of efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia and throughout the region.” The ball, ultimately, is on the White House roof.

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