By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- After intervention from France, four representatives of the Venezuelan opposition will attend an exploratory meeting at the Maduro government’s behest in the Dominican Republic which could lead to a new round of dialogue talks between the parties, just as the European Parliament approves sanctioning individual Venezuelan officials.
And while only Maduro is talking of dialogue, the opposition has said it wants “serious negotiation”, pertaining such thorny issues as a firm date for the 2018 Presidential elections.
Maduro representatives at the Dominican Republic meeting will be operating under the threat of likely EU sanctions for the first time ever, opposition lawmaker and law professor Tamara Adrian told LAHT.
“This is a new element, a sword of Damocles,” hanging over the already embattled and U.S. sanctioned Maduro administration.
“Game changer, but not yet game over”, was how Adrian, summed up the situation.EUROSANCTIONS
As details of the new meeting were emerging, the European Parliament approved a resolution calling on the EU to “freeze the EU assets of all those involved in the serious violations of human rights in Venezuela and restrict their access to EU territory.”
In a resolution approved by 526 votes to 96, with 59 abstentions, MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] condemned the elections in Venezuela to a Constituent Assembly of 30 July 2017 as being in breach of the separation of powers.
The European Parliament also resolved not to "recognise any actions and decisions taken by the newly established assembly due to its lack of legitimacy."
In addition, the European Parliament called on EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the European Council to "freeze the EU assets of all those involved in the serious violations of human rights in Venezuela and restrict their access to EU territory.”BACK IN THE SADDLE, AGAIN
As far as the "dialogue" in the Dominican Republic that France helped instigate, Maduro designated Libertador municipality mayor Jorge Rodriguez as his representative to the meeting. Rodriguez also represented the government in last year’s failed dialogue effort.
The meeting will happen Wednesday, said MUD, the opposition roundtable in a press release. The meeting, according to MUD, is meant to "explore, with international facilitators, the opposition’s conditions for a serious negotiation with the government which meets the demands repeatedly presented.”
Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina will preside, with former Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero also in attendance. Both Medina and Rodriguez Zapatero are seen as close to Maduro, but the Spaniard had publicly announcing earlier this year that he was not mediating between Maduro and the opposition ever again, citing lack of goodwill on the government’s side.
The opposition delegation will be composed of Julio Borges, Luis Florido, Luis Aquiles Moreno and Timoteo Zambrano. Zambrano's UNT party is less confrontational towards the Maduro administration than, say, Voluntad Popular.
Besides a firm date for the 2018 elections, the opposition also wants “the liberation of political prisoners, the lifting of bans on opposition leaders and the ceasing of (political) persecution” against them, while also demanding “respect for the institutions of the State” and the 'full recognition of the Constitutional competences of the National Assembly” as well as “immediate attention (by the government) to the social and economic emergency” Venezuela has been going through since before Maduro took over in 2013.