Since 2013, Venezuela has been on a continuous downward spiral after Maduro assumed the role of presidency, following the death of Hugo Chávez. Little by little, Maduro, with the military by his side, instituted and inserted non-democratic traits into the political institutions such as: persecuting of civil activism, silencing freedom of speech, curtailing free press, shielding fraudulent elections, etc. In addition to the political turmoil; an economic crisis arose due to governmental corruption and sanctions imposed by the international community, which resulted in the impoverishment of the country’s treasuries and resources. According to the UNHCR, more than five million Venezuelans were forced to flee into neighboring countries and across the world in search for a better life.
On August 13th, the regime of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition, headed by Juan Guaidó, met to discuss the future of the country. The negotiations were hosted in Mexico City, mediated by Norway and had three main objectives: end international sanctions, free elections, and humanitarian assistance.
The negotiations was observed by the international community. On one hand, the United States, European Union (EU), and many Latin American countries who have been supporting Guaidó since 2019, whereby his declaration as acting president by the National Assembly of Venezuela . On the other hand, China and Russia, who continuous supports for Maduro’s regime with economic and military subsistence, and, along with political recognition by other Latin American countries like Mexico, Cuba, and Bolivia.
As previously mentioned, the first key point on Maduro’s immediate priority will be sole priority in ending the economic sanctions. Since 2017 Venezuela has been receiving different forms of economic limitations from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and the EU. Many of these sanctions stated that the Latin American country could not negotiate any new bonds or create any financial treaties as long it continues or make moves to propagate violence and to the deterioration of the nation’s democracy. To this end, the EU approved an embargo on weapons or any similar supply that promotes and assists the regime in repressing its fellow citizens.
The oppositions’ objectives, however, are to focused on having free elections scheduled at a given date of regional elections for November and to obtain humanitarian assistance for the people of Venezuela. During the 2018 presidential elections, the opposition has accused the government and the CNE (National Electoral College) for fraud and not making it a free and fair electoral contest for all dissident parties. It is important fact to noted that this event had the least electoral participation in Venezuela’s election history, with only 46% participating, usually having over 80%.
Venezuela continues to suffer with shortages in medical and food supplies causing, as mentioned previously, forced displacement to other countries during the intertwining years. All the way through last year, with the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, the nation’s social-economic fabric continues to worsened at an alarming rate. The public health sector has collapsed and international organizations like Human Rights Watch have called upon the heads of states of the EU, United States, and the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) to pressure Maduro, in letting massive UN humanitarian subsistence in entering the country.
After the first meeting was held between August 13th and 15th, the two participators have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to define a common framework. The development details of this agreement is based on seven key points:
1. Political rights for all.
2. Electoral guarantees for all and an electoral schedule.
3. Lifting of sanctions and restoration of rights to assets.
4. Respect for the Constitutional Rule of Law.
5. Political and social coexistence and renunciation of violence.
6. Protection of the national economy and social protection measures for the Venezuelan people.
7. Guarantees of implementation, follow-up and verification of what has been agreed.
The second round of negotiations that were held at the beginning of the September 3rd to the 6th whereby, two main topics have been discussed by the delegations as follows:
1. The economic recovery to face the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. The agreement for the ratification of the national defense in matters of recovering the Guayana Esequiba territory.
The two delegated parties have reached an agreeable ‘partial agreements‘ on the COVID-19 crisis whereby, they will establish mechanisms to restore the health sector in order to face the pandemic that includes mechanisms proposed by international organizations. One of the proposals was to resort assets or resources such as those provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The priority will be in bring current national assets that have been blocked and seized outside of the country. The final proposal within the document also establishes that each designated party are in agreement to assign three representatives to create a National Board of Social Care to cover different aspects of health and nutrition topics.
This fresh round of negotiations has been a success for the long overdue dispute over the Guayana Esequiba territory dated more than 180 years and counting. The agreement has four key points:
1. To ratify the historic rights that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has over the territory according to the eastern border of Venezuela in which the Esequibo River is the international dividing borderline.
2. To express the disagreement whereby the International Court of Justice on its adjudicating towards an unilateral demand of Guyana.
3. The point of order in calling for Guyana to negotiate directly with the Venezuelan state to reach a peaceful accordance.
4. To emphasize the upmost important point that states in allocating its very best efforts in diffusing Venezuela’s current socio-political status and image from a national and international standpoint as per negotiated and mentioned wherein this agreement.
In the mean time, the efforts shown within these rounds of negotiations between the two participators, which concluded the meeting with a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and signed a consensus agreement in the matter of Venezuela territorial rights. A third round of scheduled negotiations will be held from September 24th to the 27th, to discuss next steps and to further work upon agreements with all the involved parties. There is still a long road ahead in restoring democracy within the Caribbean country, but with the current progress it could be a very first baby step and as ‘a means to an end’ with little hope towards a new future for all Venezuelans’ diasporas scattered across the globe.
Edited by Simon Sundaraj