What’s a nice guy like Asdrúbal Oliveros doing in a negotiation like this?

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Photo: 2001

My WhatsApp went crazy when news broke that Asdrúbal Oliveros was going to participate in the upcoming “dialogue” between the government and the opposition. Within seconds, people started texting me: what’s he thinking? Is he a Chavista now?

I know Asdrúbal well. He used to be my boss. I respect him immensely. I can’t and won’t try to speak for him: Asdrúbal speaks for himself (often via his twitter, @Aroliveros). But even the fact that people were asking that question says a lot about the credibility of the opposition.

For a few moments, I was perplexed. What on earth is Asdrúbal doing going to that “negociación”? There’s something disreputable about engaging dialogue with the most vile and corrupt government Venezuela has ever had, isn’t there? They’ve never ever negotiated in good faith with anyone before. Why go?

Before his presence was announced, I had little hope that any real progress will come from a new set of talks being held between the “malandro” government and our lame opposition. Neither side commanded the least bit of credibility. Personal political agendas seemed to dominate the meeting. The actual Venezuelan people the ones who are really suffering were an afterthought.

But Asdrúbal’s participation made me think twice.

I’ve always seen him as one of Venezuela’s most trustworthy, even-handed economists. He’s a patriot through and through, motivated by what’s best for the country. He understands that for a better future for all of us we all need to make some compromises, and not only in the way we decide as the “pueblo” how to govern the country, but in the way we as Venezuelans decide to live our lives.

Under the control of the dictator, what good could possibly come from providing the regime diplomatic cover like this?

Asdrúbal’s a straight shooter: the kind of guy who will point out the obvious and evident lack of common sense of Capriles’ economic proposals over twitter on the same day that he goes on TV explaining the economic crisis and the responsibility of the government for it. This makes him enemy #1 of a government that can’t stand a straight shooter in the economic war.

The first thing that he told me when I was his intern was: for us working in Consultancy, credibility is everything, it’s our biggest asset, without it we are worth nothing, so you had better be objective, honest, transparent and balanced. They’re words I still live by. Who’d want to be the crazy economist that no one listens to and who is obviously biased?

So I believe Asdrúbal, and for many reasons. But especially for this reason: he’s there, suffering the consequences of this economic disaster and the unravelling of our social fabric. In person. He could easily get a top job abroad with a few phone calls, but he won’t.

But doesn’t he face a conflict of interest? Asdrúbal makes money from providing market analysis and information. Is he just going to the D.R. to get his hands on inside information for his reports, or even for his own private benefit? What’s his game?

And then that same, gnawing doubt: with the country on the verge of hyperinflation, amid economic disaster, under the control of the dictator, what good could possibly come from providing the regime diplomatic cover like this?

He’s there, suffering the consequences of this economic disaster and the unravelling of our social fabric. In person.

The question has raged across my social media all week.

Like any good Venezuelan, and in keeping up with all the emigrant cliches, I’m in a number of WhatsApp groups. One of them, with two dear and honest economist friends, Gorka and Cristina, has been thick with discussion on this new dialogue. While we all want a better country, we differ in the “how,” and the conversation has been harsh and emotional.

For me, the only leverage the opposition has right now is the regime’s belief that MUD controls their access to external financing. In truth, there are far bigger reasons that will prevent Maduro’s government from successfully issuing new debt (and these will be explored further in future articles), but chavismo thinks the opposition has some control over it, and that matters.

Maduro has shown time and time again that he won’t cede any actual political power if he has any kind of choice. And then there’s the fact that they still don’t have complete control over the issue, as OFAC had some beautiful words when they laid out what they “would consider” (https://goo.gl/fNPJrT see 522 ) in granting licences for any trading in new debt or refinancing. I’m not a lawyer, but the ambiguity opens up many different possibilities.

And then there’s the fact that the opposition does not have popular support. After the disaster of the last election, would you go to protest for an opposition that you don’t believe in? Would you support part of a group that incorporates AD in all its macoyero glory?

There are far bigger reasons that will prevent Maduro’s government from successfully issuing new debt … but chavismo thinks the opposition has some control over it.

In the end, though, we all agreed that Asdrúbal’s presence at the meeting will be a good thing, especially if the alternative is just some other opposition lawmaker seeking his or her piece of what’s still not been looted or embezzled away.

But as we go through these permutations, we tend to leave out an essential, and much bigger question: is refinancing the debt really what Venezuela needs?

And if refinancing is the only card the opposition has left, how much of it are they willing to give away for a few rectores on the CNE? Does the opposition even still believe that democracy is the way to get rid of the government?

And most importantly: Do they still think they are just negotiating with other politicians? Or have they finally figured out that they are negotiating with malandros? Are they themselves just a rival gang of malandros?

There are more questions than answers, but I think a good starting point is to simply ask ourselves and politicians a very simple question: is this really what we need?

Do I support the latest dialogue process? No.

Do I think it will change anything? Probably not.

Do I want to believe I’m wrong? Yes, I really do.

Does Asdrúbal’s choice to take part make me think maybe I am? It sort of does, actually.

37 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting points raised. But while you wonder what leverage the opposition (whatever that rally means) has, the same question can be asked of Maduro and Co. What cards does he have to play while staring down at 150 billion worth of debt? If he can’t manage a restructuring, what else might he do? Are we to really expect that the Chavista’s can survive much longer with no money, or that they can keep backdooring oil to whoever pays and avoid getting said dough garnished or simply nabbed by voracious creditors who the gov. decided to stiff. I don’t see Maduro as having ANY real leverage. What conceivable plan do they have to change course? How far into Zimbabwe-style deprivation will they go and how long will the gente keep quite, waiting for their CLAP bags?

    How much longer is any of this actually sustainable?

      • I’ve been predicting the demise of Chavismo since 2002, but like death, their demise is inevitable too but when?

        I thought Chavez was done in 2002 but then came the commodities super cycle, that saved him.

        I thought Chavismo was done in 2015 when they lost the elections, but Chavismo changed the game, it was no longer going to abide by DEMOCRATISH elections.

        So here we are in 2017 with the hyperinflation and the collapse of their only source of income, PDVSA. Even by Marx’s own Historical Materialism they should be done.

      • As someone who is foreign to Venezuelan history and one of the newer commenters here, your response to Juan Largo seems very arrogant, like many from the authors here since the gubernatorial elections.

        To the content of your article, I have begun to look at the situation differently since reading your article. It is not the regime that needs the negotiations with MUD for legitimacy but the opposite. Maduro, et al surely are aware that restructuring of loans depend on more than the vote of the national assembly. They have very expensive hired hands to explain this to them. They probably want recognition of the ANC but will live without that.

        The MUD may need the regime to go to talks to look relevant (and of course preserve their nearly worthless “espacios”) in the eyes of the population. The “opposition” seems to no longer support the MUD after multiple let downs or outright betrayals.

      • Mr. Largo’s question deserved more than a complete brush off. Maduro doesn’t have much leverage if the opposition is content to let the situation play out until conditions on the ground improve for them. The most they can hope for is to be a junior partner in a coalition government faced with almost impossible economic problems.The opposition would be crazy to help Maduro out of his hole before the 2018 presidential election.

        • “The opposition would be crazy to help Maduro out of his hole before the 2018 presidential election.”

          Which is why we should expect just such an announcement coming out of the soon-to-be held talks…….not that the outcome of the “election” depends on it.

      • ” stop underestimating el chavismo.”

        Those who underestimate chavismo have been those who believe that after an election they’ll agree to hand out all the power and insolent privileges they’ve hoarded.

        Underestimating chavismo comes from those who believed that “white hands protests” wouldn’t be crushed with gunfire-fueled repression because “chavismo would feel ashamed to repress people”

        Those who believe that ANY dialogue where they sit to validate ANYTHING chavismo does bring ANYTHING good for Venezuela are GROSSLY UNDERESTIMATING chavismo.

  2. As I’ve read some articles in the past few days to realize that even now, Chavismo is interpreting the economic reality completely wrong. One explained hyperinflation as some nefarious action of mafias in the Colombian border while the other one said the new general heading PDVSA is going to address the SABOTAGE going on! These are not propagandist tales only, but truly held beliefs by the elite, both civilian and, not surprisingly, military.

    As I read the outlandish editorials of Aporrea, I commonly reach the conclusion that the writer is some unsophisticated Pablo Pueblo that has placed his religious needs in Marxism. What becomes ever more clear is that this wacky way of understanding the world is held all the way to the highest places in Chaverment.

    A note about the military wielding power.

    In the Latin American armed forces, when leadership potential is identified by the time an officer reaches the rank of colonel they are groomed with “estado mayor”, “agregadurias”, and hanging out with the elites. Their world view is greatly expanded from the insular world of lower level officers. But in 19 years of Chavismo, the grooming the officers have gotten is with backward countries (Cuba mostly) and backward people in power (think Diosdado or Carreno!).

    Across the negotiating table Mr. Oliveros will encounter pre-modern interlocutors which may as well talk different languages.

    • The thing is that, as in many other aspects, they are the kind of Marxists that manage to get Marx ideas in their heads upside-down. Which is most of them…

      If for Marxism politics is, in the end, economy, for this bunch economy is, in the end, politics. Their operating theories of the world are not about economic systems but political systems, and not sofisticated political systems but just the plain old undignified fight for power. So inflation cant be a process in an economy but a political act by somebody, Shortages, the same. They cant even understand what would be clear to anybody – if you put conditions that make it very profitable to, say, smuggle things, you dont NEED a political opponent to engage in a campaign to sabotage you by smuggling stuff out of the country; everybody and his dog will try to get into the business, including the ones you send to “control” it.

  3. Lesner, I too have considered Chavismo dead various times, but always for political reasons. Recently, or at least most glaringly, Chavismo has been seen not to be governing, so to speak, but acting like an occupying force to which all the gente have to swear fealty lest they starve. But all the while, Chavismo had access to at least SOME MONEY. Now they are worse than merely broke, they own billions and bond holders will not be swindled nor will they back off, and they’ll pay no attention to accusations of them “hording” all the money. So I’m not underestimating Chavismo, or dictatorial power, rather I’m wondering if there is any instance in known history of an occupying force carrying on with no money. Staying power is one thing, but what at this point do you see the Chavistas having to bargain with? What are their hole cards, or any cards? Rhetoric and military might can’t feed anyone. They can’t even keep their embassy’s open. The oil sector is supposed to reorganize while at the same time slash overhead by 50%. Epidemics are about to explode over the land. Malnutrition is rampant. What the fuck are the options you seem to be suggesting? I’m not seeing them.

    • I don’t believe not paying bond holders will end this government. Actually forecast they won’t pay but rather use whatever income they have to buy the presidential election. The gov and military have too much to lose. Once the screw the debt, the thieving will only increase. The Pueblo is powerless.

      • The people will remain powerless only as long as chavismo can keep buying tanks, tear gas and most important, BULLETS.

        Taking the regime’s money out via sanctions and default will undermine their capacity for repression, which will mean its end.

    • Hello, this is my first comment here, I’m a foreigner but a longtime reader and close observer of Chavismo since 2006. First of all, congratulations to all of you on building what’s probably one of the most accurate websites, with certainly one of the highest levels of discourse, on the tragedy of murder and misery that has taken over Venezuela, a situation without paralel in modern Latin American history for its deadly combination of corruption, incompetence, and plain evil methods, objectives and ways of thinking.

      Secondly, and to answer your comment, it would be pertinent to look at the recent declarations made by José Khan, President of the BCV, calling on Venezuela to “learn from the socioproductive experience of North Korea”.

      This comment, taken on its face value, is ridiculous and insane. What could possibly be worthy of emulation from a country like North Korea, fighting head to head to be the most mismanaged economy in the world along with Venezuela, and where 1 to 3.5 million lives were lost to starvation and mass famine in the 1990s, and many still suffer and die from it today?

      Yet, like many other statements I’ve observed from Venezuelan authorities over the years, I think it responds to a certain pattern of doublespeak, where veiled threats are hidden behind seemingly nonsensical statements. Like Maduro’s comment before the AN elections saying that “a triumph of ‘imperialism’ would mean a time of massacre and death, whoever wants to listen may he listen” and so on, this responds to the same pattern: Mindless propaganda to be taken at face value by someone uneducated, a nonsensical insane statement for someone with knowledge of the situation, and a veiled threat for those that can read between the lines.

      The way I understand this reference to North Korea, coming just at a moment the country is unraveling, with oil production collapsing, default, and increasing repression and transition into an open dictatorship (rather than one hidden behind democratic socialist rethoric) is that “there are levels of survival the Venezuelan leadership has prepared to accept”.

      Indeed, North Korea despite the complete collapse of its economy has survived, based on food aid from China, sheer repression, and the heroin trade to replace its dissappearing sources of income.

      China, in this case, is becoming an unlikely source of support. But Russia might just play that role, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of having another foothold on South America (with the largest oil reserves in the world!) to Putin’s neo-Soviet imperialism.

      To sum up, if this comment is to be interpreted like I do, it signals to the world that the Venezuelan government is not willing to hand over power by any means, and it’s prepare to go the North Korean route (sheer repression, international sanctions, mass famine, financing with narcotics, what’s left of its oil, and the arco minero) if things come to a head.

      They do still have a considerable amount of leverage. No negotiation would be possible or advisable with such a regime.

        • Thank you! I don’t think there are any easy choices for the opposition in Venezuela… but past experience shows that when a tyrannical govenment’s hold over the military is firmly entrenched these type of power-sharing agreements do not work, and only serve to legitimize the government and buy them time to increase their hold on society, often opening channels for humanitarian assistance that help the population in the short term but also help the regime which more often than not rebrands the subsequent aid and improvement of the situation as its own accomplishment. This has been the case in Burma and Zimbabwe, both cases very similar to Venezuela because of the military nature of these regimes.

          I feel that most of the Venezuelan opposition is walking into a trap (more out of naïvete and desperation for the situation rather than maliciousness in most cases) as there is no way any humanitarian assistance will not be rebranded as CLAP/government aid, they firmly hold the reins of power and will exploit any caveat.

          • I think that Russia’s support would be half-hearted. We got wheat from them because they had a record crop and there is a glut int he Wheat Glut market right now. The agreement to supply us with wheat expires on June 2018. I’m pretty sure that if the next year’s wheat crop in Russia is smaller or the Market Glut subsides they won’t bother renewing it They refinanced a US$ 3.15 billion debt but gave no fresh cash. For the Chinese to minimally help help North Korea stay afloat is rather easy. They’re neighbors. The logistics of the help Russia would have to give us to stay minimally afloat might just prove to be more trouble than we’re worth to them. The Russians and the Chinese will certainly run as much interference as they can at things like the UN Security Council. But I think that at this stage not even Russia will be willing to spend one more penny here. So, if the Chavistas think they can survive being the level of North Korea, they will certainly try (and we’ll have no choice but to endure it). But I don’t think they will be able to.

  4. I have also erred in pronouncing the regime dead only to watch them outmaneuver the opposition again and again. I will take a leap of faith and say why I think this time is different.
    When PDVSA was producing around 2.5 million barrels per day, they had the highest lift costs of any OPEC member. The bloated payroll had a lot to do with this and the inability to get any true numbers from the PDVSA management demands that I make assumptions. Although payroll costs must be lower now simply because the workers are being paid with worthless paper, any foreign contractors will still need to be paid in Dollars.
    PDVSA lift costs were in the $27 per barrel range. For every 2 barrels produced, 1 barrel goes to other commitments such as paying Russia and China, the PetroCarib supplies that allowed Maduro to maintain friendship and support with other OAS countries and Cuba. Domestic consumption that is sold for less than the cost of production is also a big part of this equation.
    OPEC reports that Venezuelan oil production has fallen to 1.89 million barrels per day. The first million barrels of production is not available for sale. The percentage of production that is available for sale is currently about 45% of production and declining. Due to fixed overhead, lift costs will continue to rise as fixed costs are divided by the barrels produced.
    The only place that money can be found is by deferring maintenance and reducing drilling for new wells. PDVSA has been doing this for years. This is why the oil production is falling. The oil infrastructure is collapsing.
    I believe that the foreign reserves that are claimed to be over $9 billion do not exist. Some analysts think $3.5 billion is closer and it is not liquid.
    The regime has been forced to cede control of PDVSA to the military. Not to increase production but to give the military the opportunity to skim money and buy the military’s loyalty. Without money the regime can no longer buy loyalty by giving (inadequate) food to their supporters. There is absolutely no way that the regime intends to participate in honest elections. The opposition are fools or traitors of the people if they intend to negotiate another fraudulent election.
    The only hope that the current regime officials have is to negotiate an amnesty with the opposition. The US has only frozen a small percentage of assets that have been stolen. It is possible that some regime members have lost the bulk of their ill gotten gains.
    The opposition needs to stand united in their demands for a channel to allow aid to come into the country without the regime controlling distribution. When people are not dependent on the regime for handouts to survive, their support will be near zero.
    By refusing to approve any debt restructuring or new debt that the regime so desperately needs, the opposition can force the collapse of the government.

    • The stranglehold the government has over the population, the CLAP program, will not be given up.

      You will never see any humanitarian aid enter Venezuela without the regime exercising control over it. Remove the dependence of the population on the government to acquire some food and the regime falls tomorrow.

  5. I think it is very much possible to be very sceptic about the negotiation and think that its only benefit would be yet another smokescreen of respectability for the gang of thughs, and also very critic and disappointed in some of the MUD figures and parties, without the need of labeling everybody a traitor.

    People that what the same thing that you want may think there are different ways to get it. They may be wrong. You may be wrong. That doesnt mean they arent sincere. People may have different reasons for doing things – personal compromises or loyalty to others, for example. “Hey, we need an economist here, can you please come?” Dont know if it is the case but again, the point is, lets try to reserve the pitchfork-and-torches reflex for when it is needed.

  6. This is absurd:

    The level of VZ debt is so astronomical…and current and prospective ability to pay it down so abysmal…that the issue is now irrelevant. It’s at the BOTTOM of the list of what needs to be fixed/changed in VZ right now if there’s any chance of ever fixing it at all.

    Putting economics center stage right now, with this administration, is about as futile as it gets.

  7. We are the new Burma.
    Long will it continue.
    Negotiations mean nothing at all.
    The military-civil partnership is working well for Chavismo.
    The military will keep Chavismo in power.
    There is no internal threat that concerns Chavismo.
    Socialists do not care how much money they owe, thats because its socialism.

    Asdrubal Oliveras is another fool.
    Merry Xmas one and all.

  8. “Asdrubal’s presence” is a reason to support this sham of a dialogue?

    I can’t believe you guys are still trying to pitch this agenda.

    It doesn’t matter what kind of “respected” personality you try to throw at us.

    Ecoanalitica: “Empresa líder en el análisis de entorno macroeconómico y planificación estratégica.”

    Only the normies are impressed by this kind of BS. It’s pitiful.

    Stop trying to fool the people. We don’t buy it anymore.

  9. They do still have a considerable amount of leverage.
    ————

    Like what? While some rail at the idea of putting the economy on center stage, with no money, claims of leverage hinge on what? Exactly? North Korea is dead without Chinese support. African nations that are similar never had one foot in the first world, as Venezuela did for years. Nor were there 15 million people living in urban centers far away from the agricultural sector and access to food. A strong alliance with the military won’t feed anyone.

    But I do believe that Maduro is willing to see the nation plunge into Zimbabwe level destitution before they cede power. At that time – and we’re at the tipping point already with the sanctions, puny reserves, oil production tanking, and bonds to pay down – Venezuela becomes a humanitarian, health and refugee threat to all of South America.

    Chamos, I just don’t see this as sustainable, even though the Chavistas are apparently cockroaches who can survive most anything.

  10. “North Korea is dead without Chinese support”
    —–
    Exactly the type of support a humanitarian assistance deal with the opposition would provide, enough breathing room to give the regime a temporary respite, allowing the government to consolidate its position while dividing, weakening and de-legitimizing the opposition, as has happened in Zimbabwe and Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi went from being a Nobel Peace Prize respected worldwide to basically becoming a figurehead, a mere spokeman for the Burmese regime, turning the opposition into a shadow of what it was.

    The Venezuelan government ALREADY is a humanitarian, health and refugee threat to all of South America, regardless of whether their leverage is strong or weak (and I think it’s stronger than it looks), the efforts should be focused on dislodging them rather than buying them time and legitimacy.

    In that respect, the initiatives to have Maduro and other government members tried by the ICJ, and the negotiations for Caribbean governments to remove their support at OAS, are better steps in the right direction.

    Like you said, Venezuela is no African nation, and if its lesdership is found guilty at the ICJ then foreign intervention becomes more likely, the only true alternative Venezuela has for a long term improvement of the situation since the Chavistas are NEVER going to give up power willingly.

    It’s better for the opposition to remain united towards this goal rather than divided by a negotiation that intends to do exactly just that – divide them.

    But this is of course just my opinion, I may be wrong and like I said there are no easy choices here. Still, past experiences in other similar military-backed regimes discourage these type of negotiations.

  11. @Juan Largo:

    Yes, Venezuela has tasted better. Venezuelans know what the good living is (Caracas was one giant SUV-ed, breast-implanted, eighteen-year-old-Scotch marinated party, Mr. Nigel dixit yesterday). It is hard to turn around and tell people this crappy existence is the new reality so suck it up. Whereas as North Corea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, came out of a war to be run by despots. They don’t know better.

    @CheshireCat

    Venezuela as foothold for Rusia or China.

    If Russia wanted a foothold in Latin America they have a cheaper whore to engage, namely Cuba. It has a third of the population, who knows no better life and has been Russia’s pawn in the past. Russia has plenty oil. Alternatively, you have Nicaragua.

    As for the argument of the military of government of Myanmar.

    A dictatorship must be effective at running the country. China certainly hits the mark and I would speculate that given the expectations of the population in Myanmar the military meets them too. But Venezuela… Read Aporrea! Those are the revolution friendly writers.

    I would look into the history of Latin America again. Peru, Argentina and Brazil had populist, economy destroying military governments in the 70 into the 80s. They were stubborn, and wielded the gun as needed. But the decay that they had brought on themselves touches their institution and life, so they had to abdicate.

    BTW, some Argentine military were condemned to harsh sentences in Buenos Aires yesterday for the atrocities of 40 years ago.

    • You raise good points… however, I would point out there are two key differences between the military regimes in 1970s-1980s South America and Venezuela:

      1. These were classic military regimes. By this, I mean that their hold of power extended mostly to the political and military aspects, with media censorship. But they did not hold complete control over civil society, the economy or food distribution the way the Venezuelan government does. There was no “carnet de la patria”, no CLAP, the workforce was mostly in the private sector, not in the public sector under threat of dismissal for their political opinions. In this respect, Venezuela’s regime is more of a totalitarian experiment, its chokehold over most private aspects of life is more extensive, resembling more the Cuban experience than anything (still in its early to mid stage, since control is not complete).

      2. Context. The 1980s were a time of worldwide democratization. The wall was coming down. America was becoming the unipolar hegemon. Even so, the militaries gave up power under promises of massive amnesty, which they believed would be carried out. In this respect, the Argentine experience is unique and a regional exception, since nowhere else was the military, from the top brass to the rank and file, put on trial for human rights abuses. (There were also some trials of lower military officers in Chile, but not to the same extent) And even in Argentina, there were amnesty laws that were overturned by the Supreme Court, more than a decade later, under heavy pressure from a vigorous civil society.

      The way I see it, the only way a negotiation with the Venezuelan government could be effective would be with a united opposition demanding their removal, a *credible* promise of amnesty for the government and the whole military with exile in Cuba or a similar country for the top brass guaranteed (as distasteful as it sounds), and the credible threat of military intervention, backed by ICJ convictions and perhaps the US government.

      As things stand today, the Venezuelan opposition is toothless in any negotiation with the government. Power sharing or “elections” are unlikely to give anything except breathing room to Maduro and his henchmen.

      • As a Cheshire Cat i thought you would understand that the fall of Galtieris military junta in Argentina was closely aligned to the weakness shown once they attempted, foolishly, to pick a fight with the British Military in the Falklands.
        Remember also that Henry Kissinger was praising the Military Junta during that whole period of the ‘disappeared’ for eradicating the left.
        Chavismo is not a “totalitarian experiment” it is pure Communism, perpetrated by its Cuban masters.

  12. These are all good points but it’s still unknown or unstated exactly WHAT the Chavistas have in terms of bargaining power? As it sounds, their only hole card is to swear they will never abdicate power unless their demands are met, or else they will ride the country into the shitter. Meaning threats of worse deprivation are their only cards.

    So … they can take power, trash the economy, shitcan the institutions, tank production, gut the health care system, torture, abuse, starve, murder, and steal with impunity, but unless the opposition agrees on an amnesty arrangement whereby they are allowed to walk away Scot free, they will make things even worse on everyone till the opposition finally buckles to their demands.

    Hope that doesn’t happen, but we can be sure the Chavista’s will try to bully/threaten during the negotiations.

    • You are a fool if you think they are interested in amnesty.

      Their response to any crisis will always be… more communism.

      Some people want to outsmart them, but in order to outsmart them you actually have to be smarter than them.

      The truth is there is absolutely no threat to chavismo right now, so it only logical to assume than it will last for decades.

  13. “…the Venezuelan opposition is toothless in any negotiation with the government”

    I agree. It is not the opposition that Chavismo has to fear but their own military.

    The opposition tried and successfully won the democratic/civilized game. So the game is now changed to raw violence. It is the military that can speak this language, probably amongst them.

  14. The person that wrote this article is lying to himself, he first said “you need to keep yourself objective” and then, “oh look, someone that I know (worked with) is going to this “dialogue” now I can trust something good may come out this”

    you are throwing your objectivity by the window now…

  15. This is on DolarToday and is citing El Nacional as the source.

    “With a delay of six hours, the delegation of the government led by the Minister of Communication and Information, Jorge Rodríguez, and the commission of the Democratic Unity Table, chaired by deputy Julio Borges, began the first meeting of a new process of dialogue, in which the government offered electoral conditions such as those of 2015 – the year in which the opposition won a parliamentary majority – in exchange for the elimination of international sanctions against its officials. ”

    “The meeting was not attended by the advisers of the opposition coalition , Alfonso Medina Roa, Jorge Roig, Juan Manuel Raffalli, Colette Capriles, Asdrúbal Oliveros and León Arismendi, among others, because according to the delegation that was not contemplated.”

    Here is the link

    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/gobierno/gobierno-pide-eliminar-sanciones-cambio-las-condiciones-electorales_213830

    Why would the MUD not “contemplate” having advisers in the room? Perhaps they knew how the advisers would advise?

    It will be much more challenging for the US to persuade other nations to impose sanctions on the regime if the MUD agrees to any of this. The regime is saying that they will abide by the Constitution if the sanctions
    are lifted. Effectively this is an admission of unconstitutional acts and the intention to continue the same activities if the sanctions remain in place.

    The regime needs to have the US Ambassador or another representative of the US at the table. I doubt that the US would ever entertain such a ludicrous proposal.

    The regime’s position that the ANC is the supreme authority and the fact that it is populated by people that the regime hand picked, makes the position of President subject to their whims. The ANC is the ultimate parallel authority and will continue to hold power as long as the military supports it.

    Would someone please convince me that the MUD representatives are not this stupid.

    An encouraging thing is that if the sanctions are the stumbling block, they must be working and the MUD does not have the power to unilaterally lift them.

    Maduro claims that the National Assembly is dead and buried. The constitution requires that the NA approve new debt. How this will play out with Citgo being mortgaged for restructuring the old debt will be interesting. Maduro is claiming that PDVSA illegally put up Citgo as collateral.

    You can’t make this shit up.

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