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This week a paper we have been working on and presenting over the past year came out in print in a special issue in the European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
In it we use the social scientific literature on peacemaking and conflict resolution to conceptualize two things at the same time. On the one hand, we suggest that peacemaking efforts are not just passive spaces in which the interests of actors in conflict are tabulated and a result calculated. Rather they are spaces of interaction in which a conflict can be reorganized and sent down a different path. On the other hand, we argue there is no guarantee that this path is a positive one (and that is true regardless of what your “positive” is).
Having presented that framework we look at each of the four major international peacemaking efforts that occurred between 2014-19. We pay most attention to the Oslo/Barbados process. We suggest that despite progressing to a decision point that clarified the issues at play, the process eventually broke down, in large part because international sponsors provided each side with a better alternative to a negotiated agreement.
We aim for this article to be part of a process of debate and reflection regarding the road ahead in Venezuela. It is not an endpoint of our inquiry but rather a stepping-stone to continued analysis and advocacy.
The special issue provides an excellent group of articles. There are two more on the issue of a democratic transition and its impediments from Francisco Alfaro Pareja and Leiv Marsteintredet. The international context is also addressed in pieces on Venezuela-Russia relations by Alejandro Cardozo Uzcategui and Victor Mijares, and on multilateral actors by Thomas Legler. Aspects of the Venezuelan context are investigated in several articles. Javier Corrales looks at the erosion of electoral institutions, Natalia Gan looks at violence and the decline of rule of law, Benedicte Bull and Antulio Rosales look at economic informalization and rentierism.
The special issue was coordinated by Benedicte Bull and Antulio Rosales from the University of Oslo and they provide an excellent introductory issue wrapping all of these pieces up.