Photo: Washington Post retrieved

How many times have we seen this movie before? Waking up to the alarm clock and going through the same scenario, day after day, and you know where you’ll meet, what they’ll say and what incidents will lead into the next scene, “Groundhog Day” again!

Except, in Venezuela, Groundhog Day has a different name. It’s called “negotiations.”

This is the movie chavistas direct every time there’s a threat to their control, and this time they’re staging it in Norway. Negotiations is their one-trick pony for running out the clock or dissipating the energy of the opposition, and so far the opposition has played its part with aplomb, often because of the exhaustion of street protestors and the level of repression (including mass imprisonments, beatings, torture and murder), leave the political opposition with few other options.

At the peak of the uprising and the repression, Maduro makes a “heartfelt” appeal to the opposition to sit down with him and talk.

But despite rerun after rerun, the opposition, and those they bring in to mediate, discover that it’s all a sham, a trick aimed at crushing the last embers of the fury against the revolution. Like Chávez before him, Maduro never came through with delivering on any of the promises. Just listen to what one of the most respected mediators had to say about the situation when he was called upon to mediate once again this past February: Pope Francis is too nice and polite to name names and call people out in public, but UPI reports that “in answering a request for negotiations from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Pope Francis told the embattled leader he’s always supported mediated settlementsbut past efforts failed because agreements weren’t honored.”

Note the nice, passive tense. Note the capital P Pope talking. The article was published on February 13th this year, and it goes on to say that “according to a letter published by newspaper Corriere della Sera, the Pope said there were repeated mediation efforts in recent years requested by Maduro and carried out by the Vatican that failed to find an ‘exit to the crisis’ in Venezuela.”

Anyone watching this movie in Venezuela knows the script by heart. They’ve seen this rerun a thousand times. At the peak of the uprising and the repression, Maduro makes a “heartfelt” appeal to the opposition to sit down with him and talk. The opposition resists defiantly, and then suddenly its leaders are filing into a room with a big table.

Meanwhile, outside, it’s like a punctured balloon, or more like a slowly leaking tire, or worse, a lifeboat that’s punctured and slowly leaking at sea while all the passengers watch in despair, wondering why they’d ever set sail on such a flimsy seacraft in the first place.

Venezuelans know how this movie ends: The alarm rings. It’s Groundhog Day.

Maybe this time it’ll be different, international viewers may think. After all, non-Venezuelans and we who live outside of the country, don’t know the endless depths of cynicism in the depraved hearts of the chavista nomenklatura. We don’t have to watch them, day after day, lying and making hypocritical statements in support of “the people,” while they starve the population of food and medicine, trafficking drugs and gold, stowing billions of dollars away in the Cayman Islands.

But Venezuelans know better. Unless there’s a clear commitment on the part of the government, signed in blood and delivered to the military and international bodies, stating that chavistas are leaving power and setting a firm date for free elections under direction of the UN and an impartial electoral council, Venezuelans know how this movie ends: The alarm rings. It’s Groundhog Day.

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