CARACAS – Venezuelan lawmaker and opposition negotiator for an eventual dialogue with the Venezuelan government, Luis Florido, said on Saturday that no dialogue has been initiated nor will there be one without certain government guarantees, adding that the talks in the Dominican Republic remain in an exploratory phase.
“They’re exploratory meetings, neither a dialogue as such nor negotiations. We’ve learned a lesson from the government... until the conditions, guarantees and agenda are clearly stated, we’re not going anywhere with the negotiation process,” Florido said.
Representatives of the Venezuelan government and the opposition met this week in Santo Domingo to begin an eventual process of dialogue. The meetings will continue up to Sept. 27.
According to Florido, the opposition laid out an “agenda” in the Dominican Republic that includes transparent, democratic presidential elections with a new National Electoral Council (CNE), international oversight and democratic guarantees for whoever is elected.
Also included is freedom for “political prisoners” and exiles, restoration of the National Assembly’s legislative functions, and an active government role in repairing the “humanitarian emergency that Venezuelans are living in.”
The government representative in this process, Jorge Rodriguez, said on Friday that among the issues dealt with in the talks is the opposition’s acceptance of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) made up exclusively of ruling party members.
However, Florido called the ANC “fraudulent” and said “it is not recognized by any country in the world,” which makes it the first issue without consensus in this process.
The dialogue will be observed by six countries, with three chosen by each of the parties. Florido said the opposition chose Mexico, Chile and Paraguay – though the latter has yet to confirm its participation – while the government picked Nicaragua and Bolivia but is yet to announce its third “friendly country.”
For his part, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday that the two sides are close to reaching a coexistence agreement.