By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- At last, they are talking.
After four months of protest and 124 demonstrators and security forces killed, the Venezuelan opposition and government are once again exploring the possibility for dialogue, one that would certainly make it easier to hold the much-delayed 2017 state elections.
If it wasn’t for, you guessed it, Nicolas Maduro.
The embattled head of state accused chief opposition representative Julio Borges of lying Friday, saying Borges has been for “months” negotiating with the government to set up a dialogue effort after the failing of a Vatican-brokered effort earlier this year.
The reunions started Wednesday, and continued Thursday in the Dominican Republic and have not produced an agreement, so far, regarding the release of Venezuela’s 600-plus political prisoners or anything else really.
However, Maduro claimed “we are pretty close to an agreement”, but did not offer any details. “We are in an advanced dialogue phase,” Maduro said.DIALOGUE, MADURO-STYLE
In spite of everything else he said, Maduro informed that the meetings will continue September 27th , again in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina said that besides the government and the opposition, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico and Nicaragua and another two countries to be named later will act as mediators.
At the upcoming meeting, Borges will represent the opposition.
In any event, the opposition appears outnumbered in the talks.
Bolivia and Nicaragua are vocal supporters of Maduro, critics of the Venezuelan opposition and have long maintained ties with both Hugo Chavez and “chavismo”: both countries have received financial and energy cooperation from Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro.
Medina is clearly pro-Maduro, as the Dominican Republic is also a recipient of Venezuela’s oil cooperation and countries that receive such largesse normally vote for Maduro in the OAS or other regional bodies.
There is also the unexplained figure of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the former Spanish MP who is ideologically close to Maduro but who only weeks ago said he was done with brokering dialogue in Venezuela.
While Chile and Mexico are regional powerhouses, they have expressed no desire to support regime change in Venezuela.
In another show of what dialogue, Maduro-style, means the man representing the opposition is an actual, public victim of Maduro’s repression, having been physically assaulted on the job (he is President of the National Assembly).
Jorge Rodriguez, the Maduro rep in the talks, once also assaulted the National Assembly with a group of Maduro supporters, which resulted in a melee.
Rodriguez is also the brother of Delcy Rodriguez, the President of the Constituent Assembly, a fraudulent body with which Maduro is trying to replace the opposition-held National Assembly.
The Rodriguez's father -- also a radical communist -- was involved in the 1976 kidnapping of an American executive in Caracas. The elder Rodriguez died in police custody, reportedly trying to escape. William Niehous, the abducted Owens Illinois executive, wasn't found and freed until three years later.
Venezuela has been captive to the Chavistas for 18 years now.