Pulling out of Dialogue

Your daily briefing for Thursday, November 24th, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Wednesday was marked by reports that the government was pulling out from the dialogue that hasn’t happened, but didn’t. Several sources reported it early on and throughout the morning, information went from all-out leaving the dialogue to temporary suspension, to “who knows?” to “we’ll let you know shortly.” There were two versions to explain it: either this was a reaction to the National Assembly’s discussion about the Narcosobrinos case, or it was a sanction against the National Assembly for not obeying the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s decision about withdrawing the 3 Amazonas lawmakers.

What happened in the morning?

Opposition spokespeople explained that the government’s delegation stopped going to technical table meetings and used the words of the former presidents to support their perception that the government had officially left negotiations, since José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Martín Torrijos are in the country. Additionally, at mid-morning it was revealed that Thomas Shannon was also in Caracas. The head of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, Jesús Torrealba said: “I can confirm that the government irresponsibly froze the dialogue process by refusing to go to the meetings of the convened technical committees,” adding that Nicolás didn’t offer explanations regarding these absences.

The day’s meetings

the dialogue table’s still active, that it’ll keep consolidating and that by March, it’ll be strengthened.

Julio Borges, Chúo Torrealba, Luis Aquiles Moreno and the nuncio Aldo Giordano met with Rodríguez Zapatero at the Meliá Caracas. In this first meeting, Zapatero only pointed out that the government was reconsidering the meeting set for December 6th.

Then, US under secretary of State Thomas Shannon met with Nicolás, but they took no pictures and issued no statements about this meeting. Next came Rodríguez Zapatero’s turn, accompanied by signature-verifier Jorge Rodríguez and Foreign Affairs minister Delcy Rodríguez. Soon after, Nicolás appeared -disguised as an optimist- accompanied by Zapatero, to teach us about the importance of overcoming attitudes and behaviors of those who “break signed agreements,” adding that the dialogue table’s still active, that it’ll keep consolidating and that by March, it’ll be strengthened.

Meanwhile, Zapatero said that he trusts the government and the opposition: “dialogue is Venezuela’s hope and the international community is awaiting good results,” he said, adding that it’s necessary to be respectful and push aside political insults. Zapatero then went back to the Meliá, to meet again with opposition representatives and the Nuncio. His statement reflects many things: “I said what I had to say.”

The meeting ended at 8:40 pm, and the participants left without offering statements. Only Primero Justicia released a communiqué in which they demand Rodríguez Zapatero tell the truth and enforce the dialogue’s agreements. Did the government back down? Did Shannon and Zapatero encourage that decision or had the government lied to the former presidents? Did the former presidents lie to the MUD instead? Or the MUD to the country?

Let’s remember the agreements

Nothing to be said about institutional support for the dialogue or the possible meeting on December 6th. Only Delcy understood the point about the Esequibo, so the three agreements that interest us are:

  1. Taking measures to provide medicines and food: the government hasn’t complied. In fact, yesterday the SENIAT declared that a load of medicines donated by Cáritas de Venezuela (their retention was reported for weeks in the media) was abandoned, and committed the infamy of assigning it to the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security.
  2. Nullifying the National Assembly’s state of “contempt:” causing the lawmakers for Amazonas to request their removal from their seats on November 15th. Yesterday, the TSJ demanded the AN to formally complete the removal and the decision includes that all of Parliament’s acts will continue to be illegitimate as long as it remains in contempt, for disobeying the Judicial Branch, and Parliament will be forced to repeat them for them to have any validity. The TSJ has done nothing to nullify the contempt and the National Electoral Council hasn’t said a single word about potential legislative elections in Amazonas.
  3. Releasing political prisoners: only lawmaker Rosmit Mantilla was benefitted by this agreement, more than a hundred people still remain in prison. Check yesterday’s reports regarding journalist Braulio Jatar, humiliated, mistreated and in a severely delicate health condition.

The absurdity

17 years after robbing the company with impunity, Nicolás claims that the PSUV will have “zero tolerance with corruption and treason.”

This Wednesday, Nicolás decreed “an absolute overhaul and a new direction in PDVSA starting today to break corruption and bureaucracy.” If it’s a lie that $11 billion were embezzled under Rafael Ramírez’s presidency, why change directions in a context as beat-up as the dialogue table? It was terrible to hear the chorus of his audience in uniform: “Limpieza, limpieza, limpieza en PDVSA,” because it’s unacceptable to have dissidents within the industry. Before charging Eulogio del Pino with going to Russia to sign the agreement with OPEC and non-OPEC countries, he pondered about socialism and the impossibility of building it with “bureaucrats, kleptocrats and traitors.” In summary, the message was to turn every worker in PDVSA into a PSUV militant and if someone doesn’t like it, they better leave.

Minutes after saying that “Venezuela has to break away from oil rent dependency,” he claimed that country hangs on PDVSA’s performance, with the lie that starting now, the working class will take the leadership of the company at every level and a warning for them to be wary of theft: “I know what I’m saying, I have proof of a hose they disconnect here and place there.” 17 years after robbing the company with impunity, Nicolás claims that the PSUV will have “zero tolerance with corruption and treason.”

Nicolás imposed a cadena so his audience could sing him happy birthday, so he could dance joropo with Cilia and improvise with the order of the same ideas he always repeats, if they can be called ideas. “I don’t want to abuse of your time, your energy,” he said. I wish it were true.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.