The movements are happening this week in Venezuela at a dizzying pace. The Government, through the Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, has reported that it sent this Tuesday, September 1, a letter the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres and the High Representative for EU Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell. In the letter, he delves into a series of measures adopted and invites both organizations to be “observers and companions” of the elections that are scheduled to be held on December 6, although he does not refer to the possibility of postponing the elections, one of the claims of a sector of the opposition.
See the full letter
In the text, the Venezuelan Government emphasizes that it has the “assurance” that the “agreed guarantees will be considered as part of the confidence-building measures”, in relation to the negotiations that Chavismo has maintained with a sector of the opposition led by former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. “The confirmation of their participation in this process will contribute favorably to the climate of democratic understanding among Venezuelans and will constitute European support for the political, peaceful and negotiated means that must prevail for the resolution of existing controversies,” ends the letter sent to Borrell. The head of European diplomacy has not yet taken a position on this.
In the letter signed by Arreaza, the Government of Nicolás Maduro assures that “a series of adjustments has been agreed to promote participation and the widest dissemination of electoral offers”, without further details. The chancellor indicates within the extensions of the guarantees the delivery to the participants of elements to verify the election. These include voting notebooks, which in past elections the electoral referee has refused to show because they are, at least under the electoral system that previously governed, the only way to demonstrate fraud because it is the instrument that personalizes the vote. This would be an important concession, but it is a post-election promise.
In 2013, in the election that Capriles lost to Maduro, the opposition leader demanded that the CNE access these documents to defend its minimal percentage difference in the elections that occurred after the death of Hugo Chávez. The body, despite the fact that this is part of the established audits, refused then and has done so on other occasions, including in 2017 when Smartmatic, the company that supported the elections in Venezuela for years, denounced manipulation of the results of the National Constituent Assembly. In the face of the parliamentarians there will be new machines, new software and new rules, as well as the commitment to request the CNE “the inclusion of indelible ink.” “In that sense, it was agreed to establish a concerted and balanced commission to monitor the process, and to address the impasses and problems that may arise ”.
Progress to achieve free and transparent elections is one of the conditions that have been put on the table by both the part of the opposition sector that has advanced talks with Chavismo, as well as the European Union, in the words of Borrell himself after the presidential pardon to 110 political prisoners and persecuted. The entry of Henrique Capriles onto the field of play draws a new route on which all sectors have not yet clearly positioned themselves. The unexpected pardon to the politically persecuted, many of them deputies to whom legal proceedings were illegally opened despite their immunity, fell within the concessions of the Maduro government in the face of the questioned parliamentary elections.
The role of Capriles, and of the deputy Stalin González, has blown up the opposition, which since Tuesday night has not hidden their differences. That afternoon, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavusoglu, revealed that he had held meetings with the two-time former presidential candidate and with González during his recent trip to Venezuela to meet with Maduro; It was the stop of a trip in which he also met in the Dominican Republic with the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, during the inauguration ceremony of President Luis Abinder. Turkey, which has become one of Maduro’s main allies, her food supplier and her financier with the sale of gold, now appears to be entering with a more political role.
Guaidó distanced himself from these efforts with a harsh statement to which Capriles himself responded emphatically. “We make it clear once again that these negotiations undertaken individually do not represent or compromise in any way the National Assembly, the interim Government, or the democratic forces of unity,” said the group led by Guaidó.
“There are those who end up becoming what they criticize. Talking and negotiating is not the same, unless you want to manipulate and lie ”, was the response, through Twitter, from Capriles. “There is no negotiation between Turkey and the opposition in Venezuela. What is appropriate is to speak with everyone who brings us closer to a credible solution ”. The leader added that he will speak “with Chinese, Russians and Europeans” to get the Venezuelans out of this crisis and publicly awarded the pardons. “Today, by my ‘personal efforts’, we feel satisfied with the freedom of 110 political prisoners.” “If a negotiation prevents this conflict from escalating and being more painful for Venezuelans, I will do it as many times as it is opportune,” wrote Stalin González.
Increasingly fractured, the Venezuelan opposition now seems to move between the two fronts. Guaidó maintains her position of abstaining before the parliamentarians and demands minimum conditions such as the change of referee, the registration of Venezuelans in the electoral registry, the lifting of disqualifications and interventions by political parties and the presence of international observers.
Capriles has a more pragmatic position. Postponing, not suspending in any case, the elections would be one of the outcomes that he has bet on, where the context of the pandemic would be the determining factor. Extending the deadlines of the electoral schedule was also a proposal that the European Union put on the table. So far, the Maduro government has only postponed the registration of candidacies on two occasions, but it has not taken a position on the possibility of moving the date to December 6.