After an all-nighter at La Rinconada, the government and the opposition (minus VP) have set up a wide-ranging, Vatican-mediated dialogue effort to try work through the crisis.

A tense series of handshakes were the preamble to a marathon session that yielded a complex, four-front approach to negotiations: with the Vatican leading one table, and each of the three former Presidents (Zapatero, Torrijos and Fernandez) leading the other three.

Naky has all the details.

In his messaging, Chúo Torrealba is stressing the election of a new National Elections Council board.

For opposition supporters, this raises all kinds of longstanding, deeply entrenched fears about getting played again. Because we’ve seen this too many times: the government only seems to want to talk to us when it’s against the ropes, playing for time, looking for ways to demobilize opposition protests.

Nobody is more aware of this dynamic than MUD, which have been on the receiving end of this kind of tactic. This, of course, is why MUD insisted on — and obtained — a credible mediator, in the form of the pope’s personal envoy.

In his messaging, Chúo Torrealba is stressing the election of a new National Elections Council board. The thinking seems to be that there’s a real threat that you’ll just never have another fair election again without it. But of course, all the old demands are on the table too: freeing political prisoners, allowing the Legislature to legislate, moving towards early elections, etc.

What’s underlying all this? I think, basically, it’s that Chúo and MUD’s other moderates agree with Rodrigo that you can’t improvise non-violent resistance, and in current circumstances, radical street action would surely turn violent. On his RCR show this morning, Chúo argued that there’s nothing the government would like more than a violent confrontation on the streets, because violence is the only domain where they’re clearly superior to us.

For one thing, Perú’s call the Interamerican Democratic Charter to be activated is now surely a non-starter.

Where does this leave the escalating agenda MUD promised just a few days ago? I have no idea. Chúo can repeat that “dialogue is jut one more arena for our struggle” until he’s green in the face, he can keep saying that the street agenda will run parallel to dialogue from now to kingdom come, and it won’t make it true.

For one thing, Perú’s call the Interamerican Democratic Charter to be activated is now surely a non-starter. Talk of “political trials” and abandono del cargo is thin on the ground as well. The crisis is volatile as ever, but MUD’s seeming inability to stick to one course of action for more than a day or two is…not doing much for our confidence.

Amaneció, y todavía no hemos visto…

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


    • The fact that the Vatican, therefore Francis I, thinks that the Maduro government is a righteous and worthy adversarial party to MUD, is appalling. Leopoldo Lopez and many other innocent political prisoners sit in jail cells and the Vatican assumes to give these people who put them there equal footing at a conference table? Really? My God. Socrates had it right many centuries ago: “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.” This Vatican is simply ignorant of the evil staring them in the face. Depressing.

      • “The fact that the Vatican, therefore Francis I, thinks that the Maduro government is a righteous and worthy adversarial party to MUD, is appalling. ”

        You don’t know that at all. Maybe the Vatican recognizes the fact that the Maduro government is in power, has all the guns and all the money and all the thugs, and is trying to get them to the table so the country avoids massive civil violence and deaths and instead has some sort of peaceful transition.

        Do you have any understanding how any of this works in the real world?
        If the Vatican, and every other international player, simply said “the regime is criminal, they all should go to jail, there is no compromise”, what woudl happen? The entire regime would unite AGAINST any compromise or peaceful transition, and unleash the full force of their violent factions against protestors and opposition whenever they want. They have nothing to lose by doing that anymore.

        • I think you’re right, Rory14. This is a time for calmer heads and not hot heads. Otherwise, the bloodshed could be huge. There must be some compromise on both sides, so that that violence is limited. I think the Pope is no fool and will try very hard to get this to work. It’s good to keep the demos up at the same time as the dialogue; that adds to the pressure on Maduro. They must understand if they do not compromise properly, the demonstrations will be overwhelming and that there will be a serious risk they will not be able to contain the situation.

        • The present day Vatican CANNOT be straddling the fence on the issue of a dictatorship vs an opposition seeking a LEGAL right to a recall vote. It is wrong in every respect.

        • Furthermore, Pope John Paul II understood the “real world” with both compassion and a strong sense of political justice. He did it quietly and behind the scenes, but raised the staff of St. Peter when the occasion demanded it. Pope Francis is mostly a befuddled Pope with little understanding of economics and evil political machinations.

      • Francis I has never said he believes that Maduro is righteous or worthy, he has been silent as any mediator trying to reach peace between two parties should be.

        In the 1940s Pius XII was the Pope, and while he was publicly silent against the horrors of the Nazism, he was supporting conspirations to kill Hitler.

        In politics, silence is a very useful and powerful tool.

        • Also, it’s been a very indiscrete silence, as he named Monseñor Baltazar Porras, a very well known oposicionista, Cardinal a week before the negotiations began.

          • Yeah, “oposicionista”

            I see where that adjetive is going to, you’re another of those rear-hurt people who think that the only “worthy” cardinal should have been a brazen chavista propagandist.


  1. “in current circumstances, radical street action would surely turn violent”

    Venezuela can’t afford to become a violent country at this point, it’s the last thing it needs. Wise decision.

        • there’s a sure difference between violent crime (emphasis: criminal) and civilian violence (normal people, political)

          The civilian kind is much worse
          because it entails Venezuelans working for the govt. harming/killing fellow Venezuelans,
          because they get paid for it by the govt. that is supposed to protect them as civilians,
          because we are talking about the army’s/forces full resources, including all sorts of arms like high capacity rifles, live ammo, vehicles to cover terrestrial and aerial grounds , gas ….
          vs. CIVILIANS, i.e. regular people with maybe some small guns between them, at best,
          with most civilians having no particular interest in becoming soldiers of any armed movement of any kind – MUCH LESS THEIR VICTIMS

          we are talking about the possible development of a civil war, the numbers we would have then, would pale our tragic criminal deaths, by many factors.
          we could be seeing the number of deaths that occur in Venezuela in ONE week due to crime, happening in a few hours! times 2! x5…..!

          The fact that alarming numbers are already dying due to armed crime is EGREGIOUS, adding any MORE to those awful numbers, IF WE CAN DO EVEN ONE THING TO PREVENT IT AND YET CHOOSE NOT TO, IS EVEN WORSE…that is, I believe, what would truly be absurd

          I think that the fact that we already count as one of the most violent countries only makes the possibility of having more deaths, at greater rates, CARRIED OUT BY THE GOVT., much worse!

          just because we already have so many deaths doesn’t mean it is reasonable to act in ways that could bring about more
          we already know that deaths will probably happen, and not pretty deaths, painful deaths in the midst of gas del bueno, perhaps slow deaths…perhaps due to lack of basic resources that would have saved them if they were in any other country, or our own country a few years back…

          It is easy to condemn the efforts to avoid civil unrest that can end in violent deaths, not so much when the one that could be experiencing such a death is yourself, or your family member, friend, conocido…

          so yeah, we really cant’ afford to become even more violent, we have suffered, mourned, died …more than enough already!

          that is at least what I think and I believe that these efforts show this thinking too, especially considering that the leaders could be held accountable for any tragic death/ conflict/ riot that could result thereof — you might attribute that as politicians trying to cover their asses, but more than that, I don’t think that anyone would particularly like to have such responsibilities (even if we argue that they really weren’t responsible) over their heads …

          ergo, wise decision indeed.

          • “the possibility of having more deaths, at greater rates, CARRIED OUT BY THE GOVT., much worse!”

            And you still think that the regime isn’t the direct and only responsible about the slaughter of thousands of people in the country?

            You must be eating pretty good to say something like that.

          • of course they are responsible! nowhere did I even remotely imply that they weren’t!

            the big difference is WHO is doing the killing

            the govt. is responsible for crime INDIRECTLY

            deaths by govt. forces,with govt. resources, following govt. orders, granted impunity by the govt. — THAT IS DIRECT RESPONSIBILITY

            when govt. kill their own people we begin to talk about DEMOCIDE, that is a whole other playing field

            I mean do you see where I am getting at? I might not be expressing myself well enough here…

            Me having this opinion is clear evidence that I am in fact not having a great existence in my beloved country! – why would you call my opinion that advocates for less (not more!) deaths as demonstrating any sort of well-being?? I don’t understand at all …

            I see it all as a big tragedy, I hope we can prevent awful deaths at the hands of fellow Venezuelans , I have had more than enough deaths in my acquaintance circles…

          • Your point is that the fact that thousands of people are murdered by chavista zealots in a short span of time (highly unlikely), is “worse” than having tens of thousands of people murdered by chavista zealots and policies in a longer span of time.

            Even the last person getting killed since 17 years ago has chavismo as the direct culprit of that murder, there has been not a single kill carried out by any opposition person, ever, in these 17 years.

            Your logic is the same one that Capriles used to chicken out in 2013 and that the MUD’s previous incarnation: Democratic coordinator, used in the previous years: “Better stay low and pray for chavismo doesn’t notice you, rather than daring to say anything because the boogieman will get you!”

  2. Last week I was starting to get my hopes up and thinking that the oppos had finally gotten their act together and were moving in the right direction. Now this, being played by the chavistas as fools again and walking right into the trap set for them. They appear to have got nothing for even agreeing to these delaying tactics, not even a token release of 2 or 3 political prisoners or the permission for some medical aid to enter the country. Nothing!

    As Daniel D. points out, the optics at the negotiating table were terrible with King Maduro sitting in the centre as the arbitrator of the negotiations. I want to have some faith/hope that the oppos know what they are doing, but realistically, I have none.

    • According to Chuo, it was a agreed that since the Vatican was part of the negotiation that Maduro could do an opening speech of 10 minutes after the opening words of the Vatican representative. After that, Maduro gave a hand shake to every MUD member that was there and then left the meeting as agreed upon beforehand.

  3. In my opinion, the scalating protest agenda is just a façade to meet with the people’s need for action, and not be directly against the radicals thirst for violence; a ‘paño caliente’ to keep them all aligned and controlled under the MUD’s scope.

    In the meanwhile, their preferred option (remember they’re virtually lead by HCR) is a negotiated escape (RR, Nicolas resigning, etc.) that avoids countless fatalities, vendettas and private business destructions that would only lead to even more misery for the middle and lower classes, and would finally end in yet another win from the ones with most guns (them).

    For the very first time, I think the MUD *is* sticking to a plan, but we just can’t fully get it yet.

  4. MUD’ strategy is a mess. Enmeshed in contradictions, unlogic and vanity arguments. On the one hand, they agree on meeting with the regime in a board following the Maduro’s terms. And on the other hand,they claim they do not trust the regime. Please leave the ambiguity.

  5. What I see is a big stall plan. As Obama sails into the sunset, one of his main legacies is Cuba. Obama is not out of the woods yet. Cuba can turn back on him spoiling that legacy.

    The last thing the US administration needs is a problem in Vz. Zapatero was brought into this by the US on suggesting of Brazil’s Dilma. Why is the US State Dept listening to Dilma? Who is Dilma taking orders from? Havana?

    The US is now playing ball with Havana over Vz. It’s not the first time the US gives the top Venezuelan (drug) bosses oxygen.

  6. So, if I understood Chuo correctly on his radio show from this morning, they will consider calling off the protest towards Miraflores if the government releases political prisoners plus other things discussed at the meeting.

  7. For the dialogue to work, I would like to see (and quick!) from the government – in order of importance- (imho) the following:

    1 The heads of at least two of the CNE chavista reps
    2 A balanced TSJ – appointment of new opposition-approved judges (according to the law)
    3 Freedom for all political prisoners (and amnesty)
    4 Acceptance of National Assembly and its laws
    5 Regional elections

    They get:
    1 To keep part of the money they’ve stolen
    2 RR in 2017

    Will that be ok?

    • I think you are on the right track… You are missing survival of the PSUV even if is a small party, for those that did not steal enough

      • More than the removal of Maduro (unlikely anyway to have the RR on or before 9 Jan 2017 I think) I would prefer to see the return of the rule of law – a fair CNE, a fair TSJ, an impartial attorney general, an ombudsman that really works for the people, an Assembly that can do its job. I could then stomach the chavistas (but probably not Maduro) in power until Dec 2108(?) . So yes, I would swap the RR for all the above.

    • Personally, I think that any deal that leaves Chavismo in charge of the executive branch for any length of time is unacceptable. Even if you restore the CNE and TSJ, the institutions are too degraded to to resist following the orders of the executive branch. Officials will just keep following the orders of the executive out of institutional habit and momentum. There is nothing to stop Chavismo from ignoring newly reconstituted institutions the same as they ignore the AN, no matter what they promised in front of all the mediators.

  8. regarding “negotiated escape” and other resolution theories, keep in mind the US is holding trump cards on the entire red narco crew. It has been a political decision not to indict Venezuelans and this can be seen in the ratio of Colombians vs Venezuelans indicted and extradited. Anyone here think this crew is just going to leave to another country knowing the US can freeze their euro-dollar assets globally and arrest them in most of the world’s countries?

  9. “In related new, it’s Halloween”. So far, score 1 more for Attrition, but, hopefully, something good/concrete will come from these “dialogue” meetings.

  10. I know the MUD has to attend the dialogue for international legitimacy but yesterday proved to be a farce. First, the theatrics of Maduro in all white sitting at the center of the table, talking about love and then vanishing to let the kids play as if he’s not one of the sides of the conflict. Then the actual outcome was just as bad. These 4 comically themed committees aren’t set up to resolve anything but just stall. I hope the opposition continues with its march to Miraflores on the third. This dialogue will be a miniscule part of the way forward.

  11. The “early elections” thing will be stacked again against Venezuela, because chavismo will look to do yet another kick to the table: Outlaw the MUD and all the opposition parties, with the elections being held only with chavista candidates.

  12. Another thing to consider in these “negotiations”… Assuming that Maduro even agrees to any of the demands, does he have the power within Chavismo to affect any concessions? I would not be surprised if any agreements he does make get repudiated by the more radical factions.

  13. No question the Chavistas will stall, but they can’t be allowed to stall per political prisoners. That means that they have to give up Lopez. Can’t see it. Hard to imagine how any headway can be made. Hope burns eternal but giving up Lopez would be an act of self sabotage.

  14. State Dept #3 Tom Shannon who reports to Kerry flew to Ccs today. This includes immediate release of American hostages with an s. The nephews are on the table

  15. Nephews will be offered say 5 to seven out in two. Its designed to satisfy Aunt Cilia and keep nephews from blabbing. USG has to content itsrlf with capture but no cigar. There are plenty more…

    • If this is true, and I have my doubts, that would be really sick.

      Do you think that the Justice Dept., already under fire for the Clinton emails, is going to let Foggy Bottom go through with this?

      Trading an American hostage for letting those punks off easy doesn’t ring true. It’s possible, but not probable.

  16. OT – The Bolivarian idiots were obliged to make a payment of $ 650 million to Gold Reserve by close of business today under their arbitration award agreement. Any one have any idea whether this payment was made or did they forget? And if it wasn’t made, does this trigger default provisions?

    • From the Gold Reserve website:

      …We have temporarily suspended the legal enforcement of the Arbitral Award in contemplation of Venezuela making the installment payments pursuant to the Settlement Agreement in a timely manner, at which time we would formally cease all legal activities related to the collection of the Arbitral Award. If the first installment with respect to the payment of the Arbitral Award is not timely made by Venezuela, the Settlement Agreement would terminate in accordance with its terms. To the extent the first payment is made on a timely basis, and thereafter the second payment is not timely made by Venezuela, we would have the right to terminate the Settlement Agreement by written notice, without requiring any decision from any judicial authority…

  17. This is amazing:

    The Pope and the Catholic church will promote dialogue…DATE? 2016? Nope, 26 February 2014.

    First debate between the opposition and the government with moderation of church and UNASUR…when?
    April 2014.

    Shortly afterwards: several other meetings between the opposition and the regime until about July of that year. What did we get? Absolutely nothing. What did they got? They were seen as people who wanted dialogue and so they could buy two years time.

    And now? We are going to give them again two years time…

    Qué idiotez!

  18. That criminal dressed in white is beyond aguantable.
    The venezolean situation differs in one important aspect with South Africa, India and even Eastern Europe, except Romania.
    In all these conflicts where non-violent resistance worked, the oficialista side had stronger incentive to exactly not escalate violence. I think now, its a fact for the GDR. The people in command were communists, but they renounced to use heavy violent means to stay in power. Some of them wanted, but they did not get the upper hand against other more responsible and more sympathetic communists. I got to that conclusion, after reading/watching a lot about the details of the events which lead to the fall of Berlin wall and the downfall of the GDR. Its not so obvious in shorter summaries of the events, though its a very important point.
    I guess, that it was quite similar in colonial India the and the conflict rassists in the south of the US vs. civil rights movements, if you really deep dive into the issues.
    I think, Chavismo cares far less to let violence spin out of control.

    • For chavismo, violence is a tool to force control over the population.

      That’s why Chávez ordered to slaughter the people in april 11.

      That’s why Maduro ordered to slaughter the people on 2014.

      That is why chavismo has let criminals loose on the people during 17 years with 99% of impunity.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here