SANTO DOMINGO – Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the government of President Nicolas Maduro is ready to sign an accord with the representatives of the opposition it was to meet with again this Monday in the Dominican capital.
“We’re ready to reach an agreement with the sectors of the Venezuelan opposition that are here today at the dialogue table in the Dominican Republic insisting that Venezuelan issues should be settled by Venezuelans,” Rodriguez told reporters upon his arrival at the Dominican Foreign Ministry, where on Monday the dialogue was to be resumed.
“I believe we should continue to be optimistic...for some time we’ve been very close to an accord and there’s a preliminary document that shows we lack very little to reach an agreement,” he said.
The anti-Chavistas confirmed Saturday that it would attend this meeting “to demand the electoral guarantees that would ensure fair elections,” after the ruling party’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) decreed that the presidential election will be held before May and not at the end of the year as is usual in the Caribbean country.
Members of the opposition complain that the government “has strengthened its boycott position at the negotiating table by proceeding to the illegalization” of political parties and by unilaterally decreeing that the presidential elections, one of the subjects of the dialogue, will be held before May.
The most important aspects for the opposition in this dialogue are guarantees for a fair presidential election this year, the opening of a humanitarian channel that allows food and medicines to be sent into the country, the freeing of those they consider political prisoners, and the restoration of the constitutional powers that have been taken away from the National Assembly legislature, dominated by the opposition.
The ruling party, meanwhile, demands the raising of economic sanctions on some of its officials and the recognition of the National Constituent Assembly, a plenipotentiary body made up only of Chavistas and not recognized by many governments.