Some 15 countries, including Latin America and the European Union, will arrive in Colombia on April 25 for the conference announced by President Gustavo Petro. the meeting seeks to reactivate the dialogue between the opposition and the ruling party of Venezuela. However, there are many doubts about it.
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From the United Nations, the Colombian Foreign Minister, Álvaro Leyva, grants the event that is presumed to have been preceded by the last visit that Petro made to Caracas, in addition to that of his ambassador Armando Benedetti to the United States, paying the ground.
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Although the ruling party and the opposition have been cautious, both parties are expected to attend. Foreign Minister Leyva also revealed that after the conference it is possible that president Petro convenes the different opposition parties to attend a dialogue.
There is still an expectation to know if the United States will participate in the meeting. Leyva assured that Antony Blinken would not go to the meeting. Washington is a main actor in the dialogue process despite the fact that it does not appear as a formal accompanist in the process, unlike the Netherlands and Russia.
Analysts agree that, although it is a favorable initiative, it has its nuances, especially since the Colombian president has shown himself more to the side of Nicolás Maduro.
The Venezuelan leader, in fact, decided to interrupt the dialogue process started in Mexico. First, for not obtaining the release of Álex Saab and, second, because a fund of 3,000 million dollars that had been agreed with the opposition has not been released.
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Thanks to the former ambassadors of the United States in Colombia for receiving me. I informed them of the current state of relations between Colombia and Venezuela, and why it was essential to restore them. pic.twitter.com/07XEWxgwnR
— Armando Benedetti (@AABenedetti) March 20, 2023
For Stalin González, a member of the Unitary Platform, the group that represents the opposition in the dialogue, Colombia’s role is important (…). Petro can help unlock some things and the region starts to talk about the issue of Venezuela,» the leader told EL TIEMPO.
González believes that Petro’s proposal is a new opportunity to “find a way out of the crisis and achieve stability. We appreciate all the initiatives.”
However, analysts and academics believe that several aspects must be looked at, such as the neutrality of Petro, Venezuelan migration, Maduro’s political interests and the real confidence that the opposition may have in the Colombian president close to Chavismo.
“Petro has invested a lot in the relationship with Venezuela,» Theodore Kahn, associate director of Control Risks, told this newspaper. who at the same time highlights the good relationship between Bogotá and Washington, «with whom there may be a meeting before the conference.»
There is still little Petro can do to convince Maduro to make concessions he is unwilling to make.
Apparently, this background gives the Colombian president credentials to be well positioned and facilitate dialogue with the United States as the central actor.
«Now then, there is still little that Petro can do to convince Maduro to make concessions that he is not willing to make,» emphasizes Kahn.
And precisely Maduro has once again charged against the Americans.
“A gringo spokesman came out to threaten Venezuela. He came out to say that if Venezuela does not advance in the political dialogues with the bandit, corrupt and homeland selling sector of the Unitary Platform, they would take retaliation and sanctions against our country. I tell the gringo spokesperson: gringo spokesperson, go to hell because Venezuela is respected! We do not accept threats from the United States Government. Here we are standing by our own efforts and we will continue advancing by our own efforts. Venezuela does not accept threats from anyone,» he said Thursday.
With Chavismo’s performance record, skepticism about the summit and its results comes to the fore. Víctor Mijares, professor of the Department of Political Science and Global Studies at the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, points out that there is a probability that there is no real credibility of Petro in the opposition sectors, but he also considers that this initiative “without a doubt” gives an air of Maduro.
And that air is given because the Venezuelan president «has seen in Gustavo Petro’s Colombia a gateway or re-entry to the international community, at a time when he is still under significant sanctions,» details Mijares who adds that Maduro sees Colombia as a political-diplomatic operator capable of helping to lift sanctions.
«It is a very important opportunity for Chavismo-Madurista in search of reinsertion.»
On this, Khan, from Control Risk, makes a warning that coincides with Mijares, considering that although the Colombian proposal is interesting, it can also disperse the negotiations and this «serves Maduro because it takes pressure off him to return to the table in Mexico, which is the space that the opposition has prioritized and has been insisting on the need to resume.
I will convene an international conference in Colombia with the objective of building the road map that allows effective political dialogue between society and the Venezuelan government.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) March 28, 2023
From the Venezuelan side the tone is more hopeful. Political scientist and journalist from the Central University of Venezuela, Ricardo Sucre, believes that the issue of resources blocked abroad, to which the Venezuelan administration cannot access, may be one of the issues and contributions of Colombia, which for moments is a reliable interlocutor for the government.
“The main contribution that can be put on the appropriate table are the obstacles”, Sucre explains, also alleging that they would not seek to replace the process in Mexico but also that the Chavista government itself feels comfortable and does not seek recognition because it already speaks with the United States and has made it clear that Maduro is the one who has control in the country.
Although analysts do not see Petro’s invitation as a «quid pro quo» due to the talks between the National Liberation Army and the Colombian Government in Venezuela, they do consider that it is part of the implementation of the rapprochement between the two countries and that it gives way to this calling.
Although for the professor of the Central University of Venezuela, Jesús Rafael González, this dialogue process is quite complex, «Any help in favor of Venezuela is welcome and that is why the initiative is important.»
González, who is also a member of the Civic Forum -a space for generating ideas- the complexity of these issues is based on a factor that is not always taken into account, and that is that those who are left in the middle are the citizens, who are not They provide urgent solutions, so it is necessary to «understand that the lives of Venezuelans must be alleviated.»
Colombia must understand its role in the Venezuelan case in a broader way
Ron Rodríguez, from the Observatory of Venezuela of the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, makes reference to this section, with special emphasis on the migration that is in the neighboring country and that is an undeniable reality.
«Colombia must understand its role in the Venezuelan case in a broader way,» Rodríguez points out, out of concern that there are elements «that are not minor and that the Colombian government is going over them and even taking Venezuelan narratives.»
And part of these elements is the migration with which the country must address, since 40 percent of the Venezuelan exodus is concentrated and at this moment Migration Colombia “lost the transparency of the figures”, which gives rise to the Maduro government to dismantle the issue of the diaspora.
Rodríguez also believes that in this call for dialogue, issues such as the possible electoral participation of Venezuelans in Colombia in the upcoming processes that take place in the neighboring country should be addressed.
«The recovery of democracy in Venezuela is linked to peace in Colombia,» says Rodríguez, recalling that it is a joint process that the countries must carry out, knowing that they harbor realities not only migrants but also the increasing presence of the ELN itself. In Venezuela
A definitive contribution from Colombia is to ensure that the dialogue continues in Mexico while the tools are found so that the Government sits down again but also commits to return to multilateral organizations and begin a process of respect for human rights, analysts agree. .
ANA MARIA RODRIGUEZ BRAZON