Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro said earlier this week that he was willing to negotiate with representatives of the opponent Juan Guaidó, in a new effort at dialogue between the parties that is being coordinated by Norway. According to information circulating in the press, Mexico will host the new round of talks, which should start next month.
However, Maduro’s apparent goodwill ends there. He imposed four conditions for going to the negotiating table: an end to US and European sanctions on Venezuela; recognition by the opposition of all political institutions run by the regime; an end to “violence as a coercion mechanism used by some elements on the right and far right”; and that all political sectors are incorporated into the dialogue. This last condition would open the door for the participation of the soft opposition, the same one that accepted to participate in the legislative elections last year.
In addition to the demands, the dictatorship increased the persecution of the opposition. On Monday, the regime’s political police – the Faes (Special Action Forces) – invaded the building where Guiadó lives.
Elsewhere in the city, on the same day, the Faes arrested Freddy Guevara, a former vice president of the Venezuelan National Assembly and a member of Guaidó’s same party, the Voluntad Popular. Guevara is being accused of “an attack on the constitutional order, association to commit a crime and betrayal of the country”. According to the Chavista Public Ministry, he was arrested for “his links to extremist and paramilitary groups associated with the Colombian government.”
The persecution of opponents did not stop there. On Tuesday, the president of the Chavez National Assembly, Jorge Rodríguez, asked the Public Ministry to capture Deputy Gilber Caro, Juan Guaidó’s chief of staff, Luis Somaza, Voluntad Popular youth leader Hasler Iglesias, and the political coordinator of the same party, Emilio Graterón. Rodríguez said, without evidence and repeating a script already used on other occasions to justify arrests of opponents, that the opposition was plotting an assassination attempt on Maduro.
The next day, regime officials tried to arrest Voluntad Popular activist Javier González, but when they failed to find him, they arrested his mother, brother and cousin. In the state of Lara, leftist deputy Jesús Superlano was detained, according to the secretary general of the Pátria Para Todos political party.
Civil society leaders were also targeted by the regime. This week, Sebin, the dictatorship’s intelligence service, searched the headquarters of the NGO FundaRedes in the state of Táchira and the home of the organization’s director, Javier Tarazona. Tarazona’s mother was detained for several hours. Jairo Pérez, a member of Caritas and an activist from the parish of La Vega, outside Caracas, was also arrested. Earlier this month, the regime had already arrested three members of FundaRedes.
Analysts believe Maduro’s arrests, threats and speech are aimed at undermining negotiations with the opposition represented by Guaidó.
“For several years, Maduro has been trying to build a bespoke opposition. What he wants to bring to Mexico is his own opposition, which has accompanied him in electoral events that have taken place in Venezuela and which has neither the support nor the recognition of the international community,” José Vicente Carrasquero, professor, told the Voice of America of Political Sciences at Simón Bolívar Universities.
For the director of the Center for Political and Government Studies at the Andrés Bello University, Benigno Alarcón Deza, the recent arrests and the attempt to arrest Guaidó “show the totalitarian nature of the regime and the cynicism with which a negotiation promoted from the community is approached. to avoid precisely what we are experiencing: violence”.