Sources with knowledge of the negotiations have revealed to Caracas Chronicles, exclusively, the outline proposal José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero brought to Leopoldo López cell in Ramo Verde. The deal would have committed the opposition to desisting from its call for a recall referendum, waiting instead for 2018 presidential elections, in return for the MUD’s wish-list, which ended up being whittled down to:

  1. Agreeing to free political prisoners
  2. A reform to expand the Supreme Tribunal’s Constitutional Chamber from seven magistrates to fifteen, with the opposition appointing seven new magistrates, and an eighth being agreed between the two sides.

The proposal was vigorously rejected,first, by Henrique Capriles (whose position is not always necessarily aligned with his party, Primero Justicia) who has become the strongest advocate of a recall in 2016 at all costs. Other parties, such as Manuel Rosales’ Un Nuevo Tiempo, were more open to this deal.

Since the deal didn’t have unanimous MUD support, Rodríguez Zapatero then sought to leverage Leopoldo López’s blessing, turning up in his cell in Ramo Verde alongside Jorge Rodríguez. López refused to talk to Zapatero in Rodríguez’s presence. One on one with the former Spanish Prime Minister, he backed Capriles’s position, ending any possibility of a deal.

Our understanding was that Leopoldo’s rejection of Zapatero’s proposal was categorical, telling him he’d rather be the last political prisoner to come out of jail instead of bargaining a 2016 constitutional change of government. As Zapatero was leaving, Jorge Rodriguez skulked around to Leopoldo’s cell.

A legendary tweetstorm ensued, including this key tweet:

This is the context to that leak in El Nacional yesterday saying Zapatero was seeking a solution that sidestepped a 2016 referendum, and its story – mirrored in Spain’s ABC Today – saying that Zapatero admits his mission has failed.

Interestingly, the story points to a new alignment in the opposition: with AD and UNT pushing for a negotiated solution that gave up on a 2016 referendum, and a reconstituted “Capoldo” (Capriles + Leopoldo) front nixing the idea.

Which, for a relationship that has been under such impossible strain for so long, is pretty remarkable really.

80 COMMENTS

      • Podemos hacer un pacto nacional en el que gente adulta, a cargo del destino de la nación, promete no hablar o escribir como si fueran adolescentes? Propongo elimiar los “Marico,…” Guevon,…”, etc.

        • Eso va en contra del populismo, y ya sabes, antes que derecha, izquierda, arriba, abajo, comunista o capitalista, Venezuela es estúpidamente populista.

  1. I think it’s great they both have integrity left. It also makes sense why Zapatero was allowed to visit Leopoldo. I had assumed that a the regime had allowed it before hand, but I had no idea Rodriguez actually went with him. Figures.

    The MUD should stop pursuing these deals, since the government lays the rules so they end up winning in the end. Nothing good will come out of it.

    • I’d be willing to bet that “integrity” has more to do with the huge boost the move will give LL in some future presidential election after he’s finally released. But that’s just me, I tend to see that as most people’s prime motivator rather than coming from a particularly generous endowment of morals.

  2. Outrageous that AD even considered giving up the RR! Although not surprising…

    My womanly right to gossip craves more on this—>
    “López refused to talk to Zapatero in Rodríguez’s presence” and “As Zapatero was leaving, Jorge Rodriguez skulked around to Leopoldo’s cell”

    Quiero la novela!

  3. Really the MUD wanted to negotiate for a Curul on the TSJ? Really they wanted to extend this pointless government? Reaaaaallyyyyyyyy?

  4. Well, a new Capoldo is the worst thing that could happen to the rest of the MUD, in terms of political survival; no wonder they’d rather settle now and look forward to new opportunities in 2018. But also they must believe the RR won’t happen anyway, so better to take something out of it instead of ending the year empty handed.

    • Leopoldo Lopez is the Hothead, Capriles is supposed to be the pragmatic one, if BOTH of them agreed on this it means they ARE already empty handed. There’s really nothing to negotiate on. IF the government actually agreed to anything it means it doesn’t have the full support of the only stakeholder that matters: Padrino Lopez.

      • Nonsense. This deal was nothing. If the government agreed to this deal, all they would be agreeing to would be to release prisoners in exchange for no RR and keeping Chavista control of the TSJ. Of course Padrino Lopez would support such a deal. It would have delegitimized the opposition and secured the regime.

        • My point is, Nicky and his clique were offering nothing in exchange for the MUD losing whatever leverage they have. So, IMHO, Capriles and Lopez were right to reject that deal. The fact that Nicky & Co actually bothered to offer ANYTHING at all means that they think they don’t have the full support of Padrino Lopez

    • On the contrary, the fact that the government even bothered to make a proposal, means that they cannot find a way to extend the RR to next year.
      The RR has been Capriles’s call from the start and will stand to it.
      And on LL side, I don’t believe he did a genuine selfless decision, he is betting and hoping this will increase his popularity… nothing altruistic on his part.

  5. This scoop of yours could have enormous repercussions. This might have been “Plan A” all along for the Maduro government, nix the RR through the release of political prisoners. They were probably counting on this, an appearance of legitimacy to potential investors. Now that it’s officially dead, they might have dug themselves an even deeper hole. No potential outside loans for the government from anyone. It’s over. Now they really will be cut-off economically from the rest of the world. This is the hottest scoop CC has ever come across. Well Done!

  6. Man, I’ve powers. Thats exactly the kind of stupid negotiation I was thinking about, and thats the same kind of rejection I expected.

    “See, for the fabulous price of you not forcing us to violate the constitution in an even more obvious way and wipe our asses with the referendum request, you get us to do what we should be doing already, and dubious promises of kinda having to share power that we can undo in a second after you waste your time and then cant make the referendum on time”.

    Not to mention, that great reform of the TSJ comes from exactly who? I mean, is their toy and they can change it when they fucking want?

    • The crazy thing is that after all of the willful constitutional violations, anyone in their right mind would expect that the government would keep up their end of the shitty bargain.

      It’s like a guy who burglarized you last week offering you a deal to clean your house.

      • Exactly. More like a guy who burglarized you, killed your pet, mocked you about it relentlessly, then made a deal to clean your house then really just messed it up more, then burglarized you again and beat your kid in the process…then comes back to offer you another deal.

        Who the heck would even consider this so called deal?

  7. Glad to see that LL didn’t Play along with these shenanigans. It’s pretty damn patronizing when we see the presidents from other democracies negotiating our constitution away. You can b sure they wouldn’t do the same if it was tenor countries’ at stake.

    Nagel why are you so surprised with Zapatero’s position. That guy is a total sleazeball.

  8. It is very Simple, its a question of WHO and HOW Maduro its succeded.

    From PSVU line of tought move the time line over 2017 give them a Say in Who come Next (Via Vice Presidente election a Maduro prerrogative), its clear to all other member of the MUD other than Capriles-PJ Leopoldo-VP that they dont have a real candidate for a Presidential Election in 2016 (HRA its not a real option in a election) so they decide to make a Deal.

    Its very clear the reason, why LL said No to this, it would mean for him, the dead of his story of sacrifice, he clearly prefers a PJ center Mud Goverment, than a AD-UNT center MUD goverment.

    It is sad how some factions (ID. AD UNT) are playing our chances of chanching, over there chances of power.

  9. The Chavistas must have been very disappointed by the rejection of their offer. No recall and the elimination of foreign pressure as a result of the political prisioner release would have allowed the Chavistas time to wait for increased oil prices which I guess is their real plan to survive. The very fact they made this offer, albeit totally one sided in their favor, suggests the weakness of their position. Patience will reult in better offers and each better offer will weaken the will of the Chavistas further. Maybe rhis crisis can end without horrific bloodshed at least that is what this socialist hating yankee hopes for Venezuela. Hmmm, this sounds naive….

    • Well, with a source running to publicize the offer, the chances of another, good or bad, are significantly reduced. I don’t know if that was the strategy behind the leak or not. CC should be congratulated on the scoop, and I have no problem with it being published, but I have to wonder about the wisdom of the source exposing the back and forth of negotiations at this point. A negotiated transition is, it seems to me, the only alternative to drawn out instability and violence, and you don’t get rational negotiations if one or other side is running to the court of public opinion on every pass. I’m not familiar with strategies for negotiating with hostage takers, but I imagine one is not to run to the press with the back and forth while the possibility of a resolution is out there.

      • There will be no negotiated transition. Maduro crossed the Rubicon a long time ago. Better for LL to reject the deal, stay in prison, keep the moral high ground.

  10. The way I see it is, it all comes down to the military…. If we win the RR or have an actual fair TSJ will not change anything. The people in power have proven that they will not back down “por las buenas”.

    So… what are we getting at? We are trying to corner the military into taking a definitive stance. So far, they have been able to weasel their way out of responsibility thanks to the TSJ and their “constitutional mandate”. But one thing the military will not be able to avoid is a resounding recall on the president on behalf of the people. Then we will really see who we are dealing with and to what extent the military will back the government.

  11. “Since the deal didn’t have unanimous MUD support, Rodríguez Zapatero then sought to leverage Leopoldo López’s blessing, turning up in his cell in Ramo Verde alongside Jorge Rodríguez”

    Seriously? The man has spent 2 years in prison. Why the hell would Zapatero expect him to sell out now?

    This deal would basically be his freedom for…. Nothing. Maduro would still be in power and there will be no compromise candidate. All this deal would do would legitimize the regime.

    Lopez needs to continue suffering, and he knows it. His jailing gives the opposition the moral high ground they needs. People need a symbol to rally around.

  12. I believe LL crowd had the slogan “el que se cansa, pierde”.

    So last week’s OAS mandate for Zapatero to have dialog is sunk. Big surprise. Will Almagro rally the foreign ministries of the Americas behind the Democratic Charter?

    Paraguay was very firm last week in its rebuke to Venezuela, and sure enough they started suing Paraguay for oil bills. It is of course known that Paraguay has an ax to grind for the Lugo-Unasur-Chavez affair. But still Venezuela will throw it’s oil weight at anyone that crosses it, which probably intimidates the islands in the Caribbean.

    I wonder if Almagro started this Democratic Charter fight with a clear plan for victory. I would hope that as seasoned diplomat and politician he would have it. I hope.

    At any rate I bet the international pressure should pick up in the next few weeks.

    Then there is the impending bond payments and expected default. Even though that is already factored in the market, I believe the PR damage to Chavismo will be great. Moreover, I understand that once the credit event goes into effect there is a real blow delivered by the financial system to the country.

    Inside Venezuela there are daily spontaneous looting and unrest feeding into a foreboding national mood.

    So this is what Maduro is playing the Little Dutch Boy waiting for a miracle.

    Now the opposition must continue the pressure in the streets as show of strength, if MUD has any real strength and endurance as LL’s crowd states.

  13. Unclear from the below-noted tweet, but what I can gather: Amanpour interviews Capriles on CNNi at 3 PM ET:

    Christiane Amanpour ‏@camanpour 59m59 minutes ago
    .@hcapriles: We will win referendum and change Venezuela. My interview airs in an hour and a half, on @cnni.

  14. And who is paying José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero for his wicked deals? Where did the guy come from, what were his interests? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$PDVSA money, courtesy of Cabello.

    • Henry, good questions and the answers should be forthcoming. This has been brewing for several years and the timing coincides with current events

  15. Zapatero’s plan was telegraphed through Armando Durán’s column a couple of weeks ago. I associated this as a “El Nacional” kingmaking delirium, and left it at that. Though “El Nacional” favoured LL over HCR since 2013, who knows what they are up to.

    I’m indeed glad LL and HCR are on the same page.

  16. KonZapata.com ‏@konzapata 2h2 hours ago
    Lilian Tintori acaba de desmentir que Zapatero ofreció a Leopoldo la libertad a cambio de parar el revocatorio…

  17. I celebrate Capoldo for making the right call. Chavismo is quite adept at buying time and turning the tables on you, even if they negotiate, they’ll do it with a knife behind their backs, it’s what they’ve always done and always will.
    However the mere fact that they’re willing to free Leopoldo if a RR doesn’t happen means that these guys are seriously concerned. It means you gotta keep pushing. Who knows what the reds can come up with if we give them time? No, don’t allow them to “wash their face” and free the prisoners out of “democratic soul”. Eff that.

    It’s nauseating that some are willing to negotiate. Have you learned nothing of how chavismo works

  18. Great news, it’s about time for Lopez and Capriles to agree on things . I hope that this results in a comprehensive PJ-VP treaty that’ll be the basis of post -Chavismo politics for a long time.

  19. :O

    For fuck’s sake. This was the thing, what all the pressure was for. Goddamnit. I’m glad I at least got to see Capriles’ true face.

    For all those not keeping track: legislativr and half TSJ would make 1 1/2 out of three. Now they have a useless third and a hail mary that executive now has no reason not to bulldoze.

    Enjoy Aristóbulo you useless fucks!

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