Since the government and opposition negotiating teams first sat down for a new round of dialogue in Mexico City in August—the fifth such negotiation process in six years—there has been considerable progress in establishing mechanisms to improve coordination and address urgent aspects of Venezuela’s humanitarian and political crisis. On September 27, the third round of negotiations under this process closed.

The first round of negotiations that took place in mid-August saw the signing of an initial Memorandum of Understanding, through which the negotiating teams agreed on a series of concrete objectives and expressed a willingness to achieve partial accords and establish a mechanism of consultation with social and political actors. This last point is an important one, and WOLA has emphasized the need to incorporate perspectives from civil society into negotiations around Venezuela’s political future. The second round, which took place from September 3 to 6, was focused on addressing aspects of Venezuela’s humanitarian emergency, and resulted in an agreement to establish a Mesa de Atención Social comprised of three members from each side to address urgent needs in the areas of health and nutrition. The most recent round of negotiations, held from September 25 to 27, was centered around the restoration of the rule of law and an impartial justice system. The negotiating parties signed a joint statement on September 27 reiterating a commitment to include political and social actors in the process, and emphasizing the need for a gender focus in the dialogue. The talks are being facilitated by the Norwegian government, with delegations from Russia and the Netherlands accompanying the process.

The first three rounds of negotiations have not been without difficulties. At the first meeting on August 13, the government negotiators reportedly initially refused to begin talks due to the presence of Carlos Vecchio, the Guaidó ambassador to the U.S., on the opposition negotiating team. Vecchio was later replaced by Freddy Guevara, an opposition leader who was arbitrarily detained in July and was then released in August to attend to the talks. National Assembly President Jorge Rodríguez, who is leading the government negotiators, announced in September that he seeks to incorporate Alex Saab, a controversial Maduro ally who is currently imprisoned in Cape Verde and faces extradition to the United States, into the negotiating team. Then, the beginning of the most recent round of negotiations was temporarily suspended after the government’s delegates failed to arrive in Mexico City on September 24, the day that the talks were scheduled to begin. The negotiating teams are not expected to meet again until after regional and local elections are held on November 21. (Correction: Since publishing this Weekly, the negotiating teams have announced that they will in fact meet again before the November elections, with the next round of talks set to begin in mid-October.)


Human Rights