For Wednesday, September 14, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Tuesday, Libertador mayor Jorge Rodríguez used the excuse of advancing the complaints presented against the Democratic Unity Roundtable before the National Electoral Council, to mask his statement’s only purpose: breaking the MUD’s credibility -like it happened before with the meetings held in the Dominican Republic in May. Once more, the MUD engages in private talks and the regime uses a gesture of political goodwill to break the opposition’s unity, violating -as malandros always do- the code of discretion. Rodríguez didn’t say that they were the ones to break off from negotiations, that they didn’t go to the third meeting because the MUD established the recall referendum for 2016 as a condition. The government seeks to demonize dialogue after calling for it. Jorge Rodríguez managed to recover the PSUV’s agenda, undermine the MUD’s call for protests on September 16th and even give the CNE more time. If they’ve already violated their own rules at leisure anyway, what incentives would they have now to give the date for the 20% signature collection drive if the PSUV has compromised the success of street demonstrations?

Nicolás’s version

Nicolás tried to be prudent and measured, but he had to react “to the opposition’s evil.” If I were the PSUV, I would’ve left Jorge Rodríguez deal with this one on his own. I would’ve silenced Nicolás any way possible. Why? Because he mixed two agendas yesterday with tremendous clumsiness: the talks and the recall referendum. About the talks, he only said that they were secret as per MUD’s request, that they took place last Friday and Saturday and that they’ve established a schedule of possible meetings for September and October. He elaborated on the referendum, in a sea of mistaken assumptions about respecting public powers but refusing to be blackmailed, demanding answers about the MUD’s fraud with the 1% signature collection process and you can and add anything you want from there. An important mistake, like everything he does.

The MUD’s mistake

An opposition that has the support of the majority of the people -even with the government as an enemy- must do whatever they can to ensure elections. They have to talk, negotiate, reach agreements. If you don’t agree, I hope you’re already founding a political party to group the majority, or a paramilitary movement to take power by force. If that’s not the case, then think about the challenge of trying to negotiate anything with Elías Jaua, Roy Chaderton, Delcy and Jorge Rodríguez. The mistake was allowing the PSUV to reveal the news, so they were left to give explanations later; denying what they did, and later admitting that they did it and explain why. We all fear a lousy negotiation, another defeat, because the urgency to end this disaster is enormous.

What’s the cause of criticism?

The lack of transparency. The alarms about “backstage negotiations” are supported by two events: lawmaker Timoteo Zambrano thanking Rodríguez Zapatero for Gabriel San Miguel’s release, and María Corina Machado’s statement that they shouldn’t count on her for a recall in 2017. UNASUR’s triplet of former presidents -responsible for the imaginary dialogue- comes and goes without providing any account of whatever it is they’re doing, besides giving Nicolás more time. They only blurt out new age phrases about dialogue and the future. There’s no way of trusting the government or the former presidents, and that forces the MUD to be more transparent, clearer, to reveal the information first, to say it right. It was enough that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court denied that any complaints had been submitted by Lilian Tintori (Leopoldo López’s wife) against Nicolás, or that Tintori herself denied David Smolansky’s statements where he claimed that Zapatero had negotiated the recall referendum for Leopoldo López’s release. Enough.

The new Seguridad Nacional

Maybe that was the most effective way Nicolás found to celebrate Acción Democrática’s 75th anniversary, but it’s still alarming how they’re amping up their repression while they impose propaganda about the NAM as a forum of nations that fight for just causes: Iran, North Korea or Zimbabwe? They threaten with laying off dissident public employees in Margarita, they arrest more Polar employees, while SEBIN issues informal summons for opposition supporters, but when these people go to the Prosecutor’s Office to ask for any investigation against them, there are none. This was confirmed yesterday by Alfredo Díaz, mayor of Mariño municipality.

And then, Human Rights

In the Human Rights Council’s 33th session, the High Commissioner of the United Nations for this matter, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, criticized Venezuela for preventing their experts to enter the country, despite the serious complaints about committed abuses. He also spoke of the erosion of branch autonomy, the decay of social and economic rights, hunger and the failing healthcare system. Venezuela served as an example of countries that deny access to Human Rights experts, undermining the efforts made to denounce the abuses. Zeid ratified that they’ll keep observing the country’s situation and reporting on their concerns.

And in that regard

Chile condemned the statement recently issued by Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs ministry, remarking that they’ll keep demanding compliance with the guarantees Venezuela must observe in virtue of international agreements on Human Rights. Add this to the concerns expressed by the head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, and the statements issued by Brazil’s Foreign Affairs minister, José Serra, in view of the recent proliferation of arbitrary detentions in Venezuela, which have taken place “in violation of due legal process and in clear disrespect of fundamental liberties and guarantees,” the statement says, adding that this situation puts even more obstacles for the dialogue between the government and the opposition.

The immoral one

Not a single word about SEBIN’s summons, about houses illegally searched, about persecution against the opposition. Not a single word about Delson Guarate, mayor of Mario Briceño Iragorry municipality, who suffered an internal hemorrhage and had to be hospitalized, considering that it’s difficult for this circumstance to arise without physical violence to explain it. However, Ombudsman Tarek William Saab claimed yesterday that: “It’s immoral for pinochetista sectors from Chile to think they can school us on Human Rights (…) pinochetismo keeps governing Chile, their Constitution favors them (…) it’s peculiar for Spain and Chile, with their criminal models, to attack Venezuela.” ¿Así o más claro?

Nicolás was still talking as I wrote this. We’ll know today if he said anything important.

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  1. I don’t care what anyone says. And Jorge Rodriguez can spin it all day long. The fact that it’s been revealed (regardless of which side revealed it) that this government agreed to “dialogue meetings” in any form, is a huge blow to them and their supporters.

  2. If your thinking of negotiating and your are a thug then you take as many hostages as possible to use them as a negotiating card, you tell your opponents ´’if you forego the referendum then we will release so many hundred of hostages (oppo figures arbitrarily imprisoned) ‘, but then maybe your are only playing with having a go at negotiations if you figure you can gain something , on the cheap, without giving back anything of substance ….that’s probably the case, thus if you realize thats impossible (because the Opo insists on the referendum) then at the very worst you use the negotiation attempt as propaganda to sell yourself as always ready to be conciliatory while sowing the seeds of division among MUD backers…!!

    I do think that whatever the mistrust you feel for this ruffians regime the MUD is conscience bound to explore the possibility of negotiating with it , of course without abandoning even for a moment the street and other pressures against the regime and the call for a referendum to be held this year.. Nothing wrong with this , As a practical matter it is customary for negotiations not to be open to public scrutiny while they are being attemptd because otherwise they become impossible as every one wants to join the band wagon of directing the negotiation efforts every which way…..!! any professional negotiators will tell you so…..!! I f the negotiations between the US and Cuba conducted with the Vatican as go between has been conducted publicly you can be sure that external pressures would have made thm impossible…!! So as a practical matter I have absolutely no quarrel with beginning then with the utmost secrecy , besides by making them secret you make sure the regime doesn’t exploit them as propaganda…!!

    By blowing the cover on the ongoing discussions the regime may be attempting to abort the negotiations before they even get underway, use them as propaganda to show their ´´good will and see if they can break up the MUD’s unity.

    By the way I did hear the Vicepresident of the AN declare to the media that discussions with the regime were being explored ……even if apparently no one picked up on the statement he gave….!!

    • You’re absolutely right Bill. You can’t have public negotiations. The “closed door meeting” is a fundamental requirement to orderly and rational discussions. Leaks and grandstanding undermine the whole process. If people don’t trust the people delegated to engage in the discussions, well, that’s a problem of a completely different kind, and open negotiations won’t address it or fix it.

      • One thing is closed doors, another thing is “secret meetings”… HRA saying there’s been not dialogue and five minutes later the goverment leaks the info… C’mon!!! We’re dealing with low-life, worthless scums! How come MUD trust them? They’ve been doing shitty things since for ever… Remember Juan Carlos Caldera was framed at Rupperti’s apartment??? MUD guys must be crystal clear in their shenanigans…

        • What would be nice to see, is every time the regime betrays a confidence, or the hard liners try to undermine the process with the trash talk, the opposition can impose a consequence. If you do this, we’ll do this… etc. In a negotiation, you don’t have to trust the other side, and you can negotiate with scum, but you need a lever. I don’t see the lever yet. (And unfortunately, its not the Pope)

  3. I would not fault the MUD for meeting with the government. At least it can only help them in understand their foe.

    We are used to the logic and reality defying rhetoric. This is normal modus opernadi. What is telling is the way the government is betraying the confidence of the talks and using it to bludgeon the MUD with it. This is on top of the scores of political prisoners they are accruing in the past few weeks. It seems as if the government is pegandole a la MUD hasta con el tobo. Something of a total war which is showing clear desperation and weakness.

    It is clear that delaying el revocatorio into 2017 is the game plan, which is a achievable even with Maduro’s current weakness. With thoughts of desenchufe and a standard dictator retirement plan (which is death or jail, ask Gaddafi) they will make a wild run for it.

    The referee to this mortal struggle was be the military, but the whole general yuca and admirante pesca’o scheme pulls them into the game and sets them up for failure along with the government. Sooner or later, they will realize that they cannot save the sinking ship. Moreover, the military will not want to end as the Argentine military, an institution tarnished beyond redemption for generations (good at disappearing unarmed people but feckless warriors against real armies)

    On top of that PDVSA seems to be rushing into a default in a matter of weeks. Their production continues to diminish and they seem to be doing wild negotiations for their debt. Even the little money they have is drying up.

    As Christmas draws closer to the saddest one ever lived in Venezuela, it is going to be very hard for people not to riot.

    Reason would have that we are in a death watch for Chavismo. But Chavismo has defied reason since its inception.

  4. Naky Soto Parra
    15 mins ·
    Cómo quebrar a un opositor
    Déjenme decirlo así: ​lamento y mucho que la MUD no incluyera en sus escenarios posibles que el Psuv volviera a traicionar los términos de la negociación. Es un error táctico indisculpable después de tantos años en esta historia, un autogol. Quiero creer que la ola de represión fue un incentivo para la MUD, porque ha aumentado significativamente, mientras el Consejo Nacional Electoral asoma la ilegalización de los partidos opositores, tuit a tuit, como una tontería. Mientras perseguir opositores sea más barato que ilegalizar a toda la oposición, lo seguirán haciendo y hay que denunciarlo, aprovechar esta anómala distancia entre el Ministerio Público y el Sebin.
    El diálogo es un instrumento del Gobierno, con el que ha ganado mucho tiempo, un tiempo que no merece. Cualquier ejercicio de diálogo con el Psuv, demanda transparencia, una agenda pública aunque las reuniones sean privadas y por su puesto, la rendición de resultados, porque somos más que unos votantes o gente que rellena marchas. La opacidad es un error, porque cualquiera tiene el deber de asociarla con algo más, con la acción de un político que asume que este es su chance, al margen del país. Ante una oposición tan heterogénea como la nuestra, la estrategia óptima es dividirla, dejar sin cabeza a la mayoría, amainar el ánimo de protesta porque no crees en los que te convocan.
    Los errores de la MUD no superan la indignación que me produce ver a personas comiendo de la basura, no encontrar las medicinas de mis padres o que las que encuentro no pueda enviarlas a otra ciudad porque está prohibido, por solo citar tres elementos que me han atormentado esta semana. No superan la pérdida de libertades y derechos y tampoco le restan vigencia a nuestra procura, a la urgencia de cambiar y a la evidente necesidad de cohesión civil para que ese cambio sea posible.
    Ya me quebraron las cuentas, la despensa y las certezas, no me van a quebrar la convicción sobre nuestra mayoría electoral edificada en buena parte por el rechazo común a su gestión, no por la militancia en partidos opositores. Haré cuanto pueda para lograr unas elecciones, soportando las cadenas de Nicolás para resumir su estupidez y hacerla digerible, escribiendo, discutiendo, marchando, formando a otra gente con lo que sé. Soy opositora, esa condición no van a quebrantarla los malandros del Psuv. Como la mayoría, demando a la MUD: respeto, transparencia y eficacia.

  5. I just feel that neither the government nor the opposition really know what to do with the size of this crisis at this point and they’re both behaving like a cat chasing its tail. Meanwhile the problems are real, they are many and they are serious!

  6. I would not place too much significance on these meetings. Even countries that at open war with each other have communications and negotiate. Diplomacy never stops. Also, such contacts serve to help understand the enemy and gauge what they are thinking.


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