David Smilde and Hugo Pérez Hernáiz
Rumblings about restarting the dialogue between the Maduro government and the Venezuelan opposition have been building over the past month. Yet so far relevant players have sent contradictory signals and there is no clear momentum. New Secretary General of the Union of Southern Nations (UNASUR) Ernesto Samper has mentioned the issue as a priority. And the recent release of Ivan Simonovis generated speculation. Nevertheless, statements by OAS Secretary General Insulza over the weekend made a dialogue restart appear less likely.
The one-month dialogue starting in April of this year was promoted by Unasur and the Vatican in response to the violence occurring in the context of anti-government protests. The talks eventually broke down when the opposition said they were “freezing” their participation until the government acted upon some of their demands.
More than three months passed by with scarce mention of the dialogue by any stakeholders. But at the end of August, Colombian ex-president and newly appointed Secretary General of Unasur, Ernesto Samper said: “the dialogue is frozen, not broken.” Samper continued saying Maduro is “a man of dialogue and peace…I have elements that make me think that within a reasonable time frame it could be possible to restart [the dialogue]. My particular position is that more important than whatever is negotiated in these types of dialogue roundtables, is what is pre-negotiated so that the dialogue does not fail.”