|That diner table was certainly better supplied than those of Caracas.|
There was all sorts of activities during the festivities, like Trump hosting a dinner for the heads of a few Latin American states highly critical of Venezuela's dictatorship. Venezuela was mentioned in several speeches at the tribune, invariably condemnatory, except from the usual suspects like Evo's speech, very poorly attended for that matter. We even have the money quote from Trump, who may be wrong and obnoxious a lot of the time, but when he is right, he is right, hands down:
"The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented,
but that socialism has been faithfully implemented"
These expected actions against Maduro's regime is what explains why a few days ago the regime asked for "dialogue" with the opposition, to be held in Santo Domingo.
Certainly, as it has become usual, the regime starts dialogue as a dilatory instrument to bring down Venezuelan opposition when the going gets too intense. But this time around it is different and the regime is not going to get once again a free pass: months of protests, political prisoners and political murders cannot be dismissed by the world democracies. What in last century would have been considered as collateral effect cannot be ignored anymore in the XXI century.
As usual a volley of declarations and counter declarations has been launched since the "dialogue" started. No point going over the confusing details. The summary is as follow:
- all seems to indicate that it is the regime that this time around truly asked for a new dialogue and went out of their to effect it, as the opposition this time around was not in the mood (at least not as long as the regime fulfills at least one of its previous commitments).
- if the regime succeeded in bringing back allies like the Dominican Republic to host the talks, and Zapatero ready for a new failure, it did not go as planned. First, the opposition announced that it would talk only to Santo Domingo president. Second, that a new set of countries would be guarantors of any new talk, not anymore the more complaint countries or devious double agents like Zapatero. e.g., now at least France will be attending for Europe.
- before the talks the head of the National Assembly, Julio Borges, came from a very successful tour in Europe's main capitals (Paris, Berlin, Madrid and London, only Rome missing, for now). He received full support from those who matter: Macron, Merkel, Rajoy and May. On the other hand Venezuela sent its foreign minister to do a counter tour and he was only receive by foreign ministers at best, and scolded each time.
- even though everywhere Arreaza was told that the constituent assembly would not recognized, the regime keeps trying to force its recognition by sending the president of that illegal assembly as its chief negotiation in Santo Domingo. To little effect so far we must say.
- eventually, in front of a losing strategy, as more and more inside the opposition state that there should be no talk until AFTER the state elections, the regime has started sabotaging the process with all sorts of manipulations and lies. The thing here is that the radicals inside the regime do not want any negotiation and the opposition, and the world, only wants a negotiation. Not a dialogue, a negotiation. There is a difference.
The fact of the matter is that the regime is on the defensive. The sanctions are starting to work. The latest sign that credit is withheld on gasoline import is that there are growing lines at gas stations. If it is true that the forced election of the constituent assembly had a perverse way to boost provisionally the regime it is also true that one month and a half has passed since the assembly was sat and there is no evidence that it is doing something positive to solve the problems of the country. The regime is in denial but the truth is that the world that counts is united against the regime. Russia and China, when all is said, may have a limited role since what will bring down the regime is its economic failure. Russia cannot save Maduro with bombers like in Syria...
But at least the regime has one satisfaction: the "dialogue" has divided deeply the opposition, before the crucial elections of next months. Those elections will be fraudulent and more, but going in disperse order with too many promoting abstention will not help. For some reason the lies of the regime about dozens of "secret" meetings, those that the opposition is willing to recognize the constituent assembly (without describing what the opposition will get in exchange) have found a wide public of, well, hysterical oppos. Then again the resurrection of Rosales or Zambrano as envoys to Santo Domingo has not been a PR coup for the MUD.....
So we have all sorts of people that preach that we should not go to vote because this would give some legitimacy to the regime. True, but in part at best for the regime. International opinion at the government levels will not be swayed by an election where harsh handed tactics of the regime will be closely monitored by their embassies.
But that saddest part of it all is that the abstention party virulence, from Maria Corina Machado to twitter warriors of the nebulous "resistencia", is not offering any other strategy. They do not want to vote yet they are not telling us what to do, and even less, are not willing to place themselves in the front lines of whatever it is that they have in mind. Well, Maria Corina would go on the front line, but she is unable to say where the fucking front line is.
I do not know where all of this will lead us. We cannot even be certain whether the regional elections will be held. We can be sure that the regime is following a close pulse of the electoral mood, and in particular the abstention movement who thank the deities seems to peter some already. The point is that the regime must balance the risk of losing badly the regional elections but proving to the world that a democratic transition is coming, or stick to a goal of at least 40% governors, no trickery spared, no political violence too gross. In short, a lose lose of sorts for the regime, with a radical and radicalizing constituent assembly which nobody seems really in control of.
Meanwhile the week ended with Canada imposing sanctions on 40 high ranking dictatorship personnel. The symbolism does not escape us, the 40 thieves of Ali Baba finally starting to suffer consequences.
And Europe sanctions are expected any time soon............