On November 26, representatives of the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition Unitary Platform coalition will resume formal talks in the negotiations framework that began in Mexico City in 2021. While the parties have engaged in quiet dialogue in recent months, including in meetings in Caracas, Oslo, and Paris, this would mark the restart of formal negotiations that have been frozen for over a year.
Press reports suggest the parties will announce an agreement to mobilize nearly $3 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, via funds that had previously been frozen by U.S. financial sanctions. These funds will reportedly be overseen by the United Nations, which will prioritize health care, malnutrition, and restoring basic infrastructure. In order to facilitate this agreement, and to incentivize further negotiations, the U.S. government will modify aspects of its sanctions policy.
As a research and advocacy organization that has advocated for a negotiated solution to Venezuela’s humanitarian and human rights crises, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) applauds the restart of these negotiations, as well as the announcement of this humanitarian accord. With as many as 19 million Venezuelans in need of humanitarian assistance, this agreement could benefit a population with grave needs. We urge proper oversight and transparency to ensure successful implementation.
We likewise urge the parties to commit to a comprehensive discussion of the remaining agenda items of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in August 2021. Any discussion of these issues should incorporate the recommendations of Venezuelan human rights organizations and international mechanisms. These include the recommendations of the 2021 EU Election Observation Mission Venezuela to improve future electoral processes, as well as the recommendations that the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela has made in its reports regarding judicial and security reform and advancing impartial investigations. We also join with Venezuelan human rights defenders in calling for the unconditional release of all political prisoners and an end to systemic and widespread extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, amid other abuses. There can be no solution to the crisis in Venezuela without ensuring victims’ right to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition.
Finally we urge the parties to ensure that Venezuelan civil society, including victims and human rights organizations, have the opportunity to make recommendations to the negotiations if they choose, including through the creation of a mechanism of consultation. It is fundamental that this process incorporates a wide array of diverse voices across Venezuelan society.