Venezuela: Elements of opposition reach deal with Maduro government
Chicago, IL – On Monday September 16, the leaders of several opposition parties arrived at the Foreign Ministry in downtown Caracas to participate in the Roundtable of National Dialogue organized by the elected government of Nicolás Maduro. The Roundtable was established in the aftermath of the fascist violence in 2017, which was a response to the Supreme Court's decision to strip the National Assembly of its powers after its refusal to adhere to the country's constitution.
On the first day of the meeting, representatives from the government and the opposition parties announced six agreements that had been reached as prerequisites to the coming discussions. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its allied parties will have their delegates retake their seats in the National Assembly, a prerequisite to the body returning to its legislative duties. The opposition parties also agreed to work to end U.S. sanctions, to support the exchange of Venezuelan oil for food and medicine, and to support Venezuelan sovereignty over the Esequiba region currently in dispute with Guyana. In return, the government agreed to the selection of new leaders for the National Electoral Council (CNE) and to permit the opening of release trials for imprisoned opposition figures.
This is a significant development. Since the end of the fascist violence over two years ago, the opposition had embraced the leadership of far-right parties such as Popular Will, whose leaders Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó advocated the violent overthrow of the elected government of Nicolás Maduro. At the time, all of the opposition parties belonged to a single coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).
A split began to emerge in the opposition camp though, as it became obvious that the embrace of violence only led to the opposition's isolation from the Venezuelan people. Beginning in the summer of 2017, Popular Will's leaders called on all parties of the MUD to boycott upcoming elections. Several small parties broke ranks and fielded candidates, and in 2018 a handful of parties backed opposition figure Henri Falcón to run against Maduro in the presidential elections. It was when Juan Guaidó's campaign to overthrow Maduro began in January 2019 that the opposition coalition formally collapsed. Several parties refused to participate in a political movement whose only stated goal seemed to be seizing power through a U.S. invasion.
Of the dozen opposition parties, four are participating in the Roundtable of National Dialogue – Progressive Advance, the Movement to Socialism, Solutions and the Movement for Change. While it is unclear if more plan to join, the announcement of today's agreements marks a huge blow to the U.S. campaign against the Maduro government. The beginning of dialogue demonstrates Guaidó's isolation and irrelevance from Venezuelan reality.
It also reveals the failure of U.S. sabotage and sanctions. Far from breaking the unity between the Venezuelan people and the Maduro government, it has strengthened them, to the point where it is now becoming clear to opposition parties that the only way they will continue to exist into the future is if they join the revolution in rejecting U.S. imperialism.